Beauty for ashes, joy in the midst of mourning, hope in times of despair – Isaiah 61:3

Isaiah 61:3
— Read on thejoyofthefather.wordpress.com/

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Precious Moments with Pastor Bel

📷 Diliman Campus Bible Church

As I process my grief over Pastor Bel’s loss, I have identified meaningful highlights with him.

2004. My first encounter with him. I read his article, “I have a dream” and started dreaming as a student leader of IVCF WVRU, Capiz chapter.

2010. I finally met him in person. He told me he grew up in Sigma, Capiz before his family decided to transfer in Iloilo. And that he was also an Ilonggo. He and his siblings studied in Iloilo City. He also told me about his conversion experience through his brother’s initiative and invitation in Baptist Center Church’s choir practices and with Pastor Greg Tingson’s evangelistic message. What a humbling moment!

2011. He officiated my installment as a full time member of DCBC. It was very memorable for me because after praying for almost a year, I was finally led to a church where I can continue growing in faith and where I can serve the Lord through my gifts, skills, and training.

2012. I don’t want to continue my studies in ATS anymore. I was severely depressed from a very personal reason. I also loss my scholarship at that time. But he didn’t said a word. I took a leave of absence and Pastor Bel gave me a typing job to sustain my daily needs. The Tagalog edition of his book, First Steps was his writing project with OMF Lit that time. Then he invited me to join their family lunch every Wednesday and spent time encouraging me. I was able to grow my relationship with the Magalit’s because Pastor Bel & tita Lety opened their home for me.

2013. He and tita Lety constantly checks on me and spent time with me in prayer and encouraged me to continue my studies in ATS. I went back to ATS as a part-time student.

2014. I was on a crossroad. I took another leave of absence from ATS. Pastor Bel was one of the people I sought for advice and counsel. Pastor Bel told me that he’s not giving up on me.

2015-2016. I resigned from work, got employed as a part-time church worker in DCBC, and went back to ATS. I was given another opportunity to work closely with him as our senior Pastor. The Pastoral staff meetings, prayer time and fellowship was a blessed privilege and a good learning experience for me. In the Council retreat, he told us that he has served his time. That he has served the Lord for a good number of years. And that he is ready to go home to his beloved Creator.

2017. I was able to finish my Graduate Diploma in Christian Education at ATS. Many things happened as well.

Before his operation: I was feeling down. My sense of inadequacy was taking a toil on me. Pastor Bel passed by in ATS and joined the ATS Chapel service. I got surprised. I was the praise and worship leader that time. After the chapel service, he whispered to me that he was very proud of me. 😭 I felt I was undeserving of his affirmation but at the same time felt loved and encouraged.

After his operation: I visited him at the PHC. He was sleeping when I arrived. I was able to catch up with tita Lety and spent time in prayer. When he woke up, tita Lety asked him if he knows me. He said, “grabe naman kayo”. Tita Lety asked him if he wants us to sing for him. He agreed and nodded. So, we sang 2 of his favorite hymns: Rock of Ages and Amazing Grace. He also held my hand tightly when he was drinking his meds and before I left the hospital. It was very heart-warming and a beautiful experience.

I am grateful to the Lord for the opportunities he gave to personally thank Pastor Bel for everything… for blessing us with his life.

Indeed, he has fruitfully served his time. He has run the race set before him. He has kept the faith. And now he sings with the angels and the saints before the throne.

Blood Siblings

No other words. Just grateful for my siblings.

Life in Simplicity & Grace

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You don’t choose them
They are freely given
Most of the “firsts” you get to experience with them
First playmate, enemy, friend
First travel buddies or food companions

First classmates in the school of life

You can say that you got the same DNA

Yet you are unique in your own ways

Sometimes you fight but defend each other once hurt by others

You say, this is what siblings do

Yet you just can’t help love to overflow

Siblings are great treasures

They’re blessings from God above

Siblings are constant amid changes in time

They’re precious gifts from the Lord of love.

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Musings on Life

You can never prepare enough for whatever life throws at you. Sometimes, you are dumbfounded with things that doesn’t seem to make sense. Your limitedness is stretching your struggling self. In the process, you find your mind trying to make sense and meaning of the things thrown at you. You recognize that your heart is still in deep pain. You wrestle with the complexity of life and questions are left unanswered. You wanted things to be simple. You desire for clarity. But sometimes you come to accept that there are no answers to your questions. You embrace life as it is. In all the uncertainties, you allow things to be. You allow your self to be.

Alaala ng Nakaraan

Habang binabalikan ang alaala ng nakaraan

Hindi maiwasang isipin ang sakit na dulot ng mga karanasan sa buhay

Ang balikan ang mga alaala simula pagkabata at pagkamulat ng mga mata

Ay nagsilbing daan upang maghilom ang mga sugat, mapalaya ang sarili

Tinuturing na regalo ang paglalakbay sa nakaraan

Dahil mas naging makabuluhan ang mga napagdaanan sa buhay

Sa kabila ng hapdi sa kailaliman ng pusong marupok

Ay ang tiyak na kapahingahan at sumpungan sa yakap ni Hesus.

 

Joy will come

Grief.

Why am I grieving? I keep asking myself. For years now I’ve been confronted with people who fell into deep sin and this people are close to my heart. I consider them friends and family. I have felt deep, deep sadness upon hearing and learning about the sins they’ve committed. I went to a point of questioning myself if I have been a good friend and a sister in Christ to them. Am I really a good friend or sister in Christ? Have I prayed enough? Was I able to show, say, and made them feel that they are loved, accepted, embraced, and helped? I questioned myself, wrestled, struggled, and even went to a point of confusion. I was even cautious of my self, constantly checking if I am sinning and have been accountable to people of whom I trust my vulnerabilities and struggles. I also realized that it’s not because of my lack that they fell into sin. It’s a conscious decision that they’ve made and they are accountable to God for it.

But Christ never failed to make His presence felt even in the darkest nights of my soul. Even in those times when pain is unbearable, Jesus holds my broken heart and embraced my brokenness. He is my light in the darkest nights, my refuge and strength in times of distress.

Christ has been reassuring and comforting me the past weeks. He constantly invites me to dwell on Him and rest in His presence. Yesterday’s sermon on 1 Peter 4:1-19 was the culminating experience of His word for me last week.

I have carried this burden in my heart for a long time and Christ invites me to lay it all down to Him and come into that place of rest. He assured me that He understands what I’m going through, he is familiar with the pain I have deep within, and his grace sees me through. Grief may take awhile. Dark nights may have been a long time. But joy comes in the morning. Joy will come, joy will come.

“weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭30:5‬b

““He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.””

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Invitation

In the midst of all the noise within

Your gentle invitation brings peace

In the things that overwhelm me

You remind me that you are my place of Retreat

When my heart is heavy and my soul is weary

You hold my heart and caressed my soul

You never failed to offer rest

Especially on days so dark and cold

I admit that I always fail You

Whenever I carry baggage’s on my own

I always forget your beautiful invitation

To come and rest in Your bosom

In humility I come before You today

Bringing my whole self

with Your arms wide open

Such refreshing and blessed time of renewal

Welcomed and awakened in the shadow of Your faithful love.

At the Feet of Jesus

Reading the Book, “Reflected Love” by Christopher Brown, I stumbled upon questions that I found helpful in my musing and contemplation. Allow me to share my thoughts and reflections.

Passage: Luke 10:38-42

1. What do you notice was happening for you as you sat at the feet of Jesus?

Honestly, I began to shed tears. I busied myself with a lot of things. I couldn’t pinpoint the reason why my soul was downcast and disturbed. Aside from the reasons I know, something is going on deep within. I wasn’t “attentively listening” to my heart. I always set aside Christ’s invitation to “come and rest in him”. My soul thirsts for Jesus and I am guilty of neglecting this part. I needed to pause and rest but I got distracted with a lot of things. Sitting at the feet of Jesus allowed me to slow down, to listen, to focus, and to relax my weary body. Jesus invites me into an intimate encounter, a time of deepening of relationship with him. He invites me to bring my baggages “into a place of rest”. Jesus invites me into a loving and solemn encounter where I can be at peace in the midst of all the noise within me.

2. If you were to look inside the person yourself sitting at the feet of Jesus, what would you begin to notice?

Being drawn to the holy presence of Christ, I noticed that my inner self needs cleansing and renewal. I was reminded of this song,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me

Let me hide myself in Thee

Let the water and the blood

From Thy wounded side which flowed

Be of sin the double cure

Save from wrath and make me pure

Not the labors of my hands

Can fulfill Thy law’s commands

Could my zeal no respite know

Could my tears forever flow

All for sin could not atone

Thou must save and Thou alone

Nothing in my hand I bring

Simply to the cross I cling

Naked come to Thee for dress

Helpless look for Thee for grace

Foul I to the Fountain fly

Wash me Savior or I die

While I draw this fleeting breath

When mine eyes shall close in death

When I soar to worlds unknown

See Thee on Thy judgment throne

Rock of Ages cleft for me

Let me hide myself in Thee.

3. As you come to that place, what do you notice that invites your attention?

Confronted with so many things this month, I noticed that my inner well is dry. Knowing that Christ is my “Fountain of Life”, I know where to draw water to quench and satisfy my thirst. Aside from the opportunity to rest, be filled again, to be cleansed and restored, at the feet of Jesus I always feel safe to be vulnerable. I feel free to unmask myself again and feel acknowledged, understood, accepted and loved.

At the feet of Jesus, I was reassured. I realized I got clouded with heavy responsibilities and concerns that I failed to stand on his promises.

LECTIO DIVINA

On our class’s lectio divina, the words that struck me most are “welcomed”, “you are worried and distracted by many things”, sat “at the feet of Jesus” and “listened to what he is saying

If I were to put myself in Mary’s shoes, I’d probably find myself at ease and at peace. I am drawn to Jesus and I wanted to spend all my time and attention to him. I longed for this moment. I desired for this time. Just basking in His presence and receiving love divine.

If I were to put myself in Martha’s shoes, it would probably go like this:

So, I am preparing a feast for Jesus. I welcomed him at the gate. Got myself busy with cooking because I wanted to serve him the best way I can. I wanted everything to be perfect, so, I easily get frustrated if things aren’t going smoothly. I thought to myself that I needed an extra hand and the closest person that I can think of is my sister Mary. But there she was, sitting at the feet of Jesus. I felt envious. I also wanted to spend some time with Jesus but I am caught up with meal preparations. I am frustrated. So, I turned to Jesus and sought for help. But Jesus responded in a different way. I got hurt by the words he said. I needed an extra hand to finish everything I have prepared for him. I felt rebuked.

Suddenly, I realize that the Lord reminds me that the most essential thing is spending time with him. It doesn’t mean that he didn’t appreciate my service and hospitality. Perhaps he didn’t mean to hurt or rebuke me. He simply reminds me that the most essential thing is to “attentively listen” to him. It was a “gentle correction”, inviting me to “attentive listening” and into an intimate experience with him.

Worth the Wait

Deep down in your heart

You have a longing for that special someone

For a very long time you’ve waited

And endured the painful process

You’ve persevered despite of the agony you feel

‘Cause you’re assured that someday, all this waiting will make sense

You get to understand why you had to go through all the doubts and the fears

The struggles and the tears will all make sense

The pain and the agony in the darkest nights will all make sense

You get to look back and thank Christ for his beautiful work in your life

Your heart is filled with gratitude because in the painful waiting process you get to experience the richness of Christ’s presence

Knowing Jesus deeply made all the wait worth it.

Being Fully Alive

Day by day I experience various things. There are mundane days but there are days extraordinary. There are simple days but there are complex ones as well. We all go through life and respond differently. And to top it all, we exert so much effort to live the life we always wanted. Sometimes we end up frustrated and baffled because we struggle in making “life” happen. But should we really live life like that? Well, that’s still part of being fully alive. The struggles and confusions are all part of it along with failures and imperfections. Sometimes we use hashtags like #lifegoals to highlight or emphasize what we wanted for life or simply share our life’s ideals out in the open. Some say, “kilay is life” or “coffee is life” or kilay is life but coffee is life-er to give comparison to whatever gives more life. For us millennials, we sometimes say, do things your way because “YOLO” or you only live once. While some say, “life is like cooking”, you have to set it to the right temperature in order to produce a good quality of food, others say “Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor”. We have our preferences and ways of doing things. But there’s so much more that life gives.

Being alive is a mixture of both vigor and lethargy, strength and weakness,  romance and practicality, defeat and victory, failure and success, loss and gain, experiencing pain in its fullness, misery and bliss, suffering and joy, turmoil and peace, adventure and surprises, and uncertainties in between. I am fully alive in this sense. I’ve lived life in its fullness. Life in abundance after all isn’t only about living in a boxed ideal or a squared lifestyle. It is learning and finding a sense of balance and meaning as we live through it. It is living in the fullness of God’s design and in the abundance of God’s presence. It is living in full dependence of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the richest provisions God gives and experience His mercy and grace in times of poverty. This is the life I’ve lived in the past thirty years. At least in my own understanding and experience, this is what being fully alive means to me. Christ gave meaning to my life. I believe I am living a meaningful life because in essence, my life, as simple as it seems, free to choose and to will, is lived in the mercy of the One who gave up his life for me. Getting married and having children, living in a simple home and the many hopes and dreams I have in life, even the ideals and the little things, are added gifts to what I’ve already experience because of Christ. You may say, “you’re still young. Wait until you reach 50 years or 70 even”. There’s a part of me that agrees to what you say because I understand the wisdom behind it. There’s also a part of me that can testify that those things are only added gifts in the life I live. Christ is the main source of meaning, inspiration, motivation, drive, and everything else there is because He himself is the source of life. And I cannot be “fully alive” nor live life in its fullness without Christ.