Prayer Journey

IMG_20171115_225034_474

I was browsing my old journal. I’d like to thank God for making my prayer journey meaningful. And so, I browsed through the pages where I wrote my prayers. I came across with a journal entry on June 26, 2016. This is my prayer,

“Lord Jesus, I come before you today, in need of your healing mercy and grace. I believe that you have purposefully placed me in this journey of healing because it is part of your will and kingdom agenda. I know that there are areas in my life that needs healing. I am taking a leap of faith Lord, knowing that you will go before me. And that you’ve been here with me and always will be. Your ever-abiding presence brought peace and comfort when faced with unending turmoils within me. Continue to be my peace and comfort. I entrust to You this healing journey. And as you heal me, remember those you’ve entrusted to my care who are also in need of healing.”

I can’t recall how many times I asked the LORD to heal me. But in those times of waiting for my prayers to be answered, in those times of pain and agony, restlessness and peace, defeat and victory, weakness over persistence, dying hope over growing hope, I realized it was a long journey to catharsis. It was a painful journey to be one with the “crucified Christ”. The act of “surrending” wasn’t easy. I didn’t know specifically what I need to surrender. I was too broken. The pain was so deep. All I know was to trust God’s hand. I believed that wounded self must be surrendered. My unworthiness I placed in the healing arms of Jesus, widely spreadout on the cross.

FB_IMG_1507133524248
đź“· Angelica De Vera

The LORD answered my prayer in His beautiful time. The deep wounds I no longer carry in my heart. Indeed, “the crucified Christ is the power and wisdom of God, a living force in His present risenness, transforming our lives and enabling us to extend the hand of reconciliation to our enemies.”

This is just one chapter of my prayer journey. There’s a lot more to share. God has always been faithful. And He will always be. The journey is so meaningful. The blessed opportunity to walk with Christ and to know Him better fulfills my existence. To encounter Him and experience Him brings so much joy in my life. I am forever grateful!

Advertisements

Musings: On Dreams

20170829_080757

When I was a kid, I dreamed of traveling the world, exploring places, meeting people, eating and savoring various cuisines, enjoying nature. I really dreamed a lot. I enjoy getting lost in my dreams, fantasies and fairytale moments. As a young child, I possess the wildest imagination like other kids my age. I’m pretty adventurous in my dreams and fantasies because it’s the only place I feel free. How ironic isn’t it? Hiding in my own shell allows me to express who I really am. I don’t want others to enter or break that shell because it’s my safe haven. Even as a youngling I already wore a facade. I didn’t show my true self. I’ve shared about this in one of the blogs I wrote several months ago. Growing up, dreams became my scapegoat. For me to survive the difficulties and challenges in life, once in awhile I let myself get lost in my dreams.

I usually enjoy daydreaming. I used to daydream about having a permanent home address. I dreamed about having a big house and owning cars. I dreamed about becoming a doctor. I dreamed about playing violin and piano. I dreamed about many things I want to have in life. I dreamed about having a close family tie, experiencing the love of my grandparents, uncle’s, aunt’s and cousins on both sides. I often dream of having a loving and harmonious family. I dreamed about a normal body, one without epilepsy. I dreamed about things I’d wanted to exist in my reality because I used to believe that if I have those, I’d be happy. If I have those, my life is perfect. But that’s not the way the Creator GOD designed my life to be. In my 30 years of existence, I’ve experienced so many things in life that isn’t part of my dreams and fantasies. Infact, it has always been the exact opposite. My family never had a permanent address up to this moment. Our house isn’t big. We don’t own a car. We didn’t have a luxurius life. We didn’t had the luxury to develop a close family tie with my relatives. I didn’t become a doctor. I still need medications to maintain my epilepsy.

When I came to know CHRIST, all my dreams meant nothing. I realized that everything is meaningless without JESUS in my life. It was a long journey towards transformation in all areas of my life. And learning doesn’t stop. I’ve learned that life on earth isn’t perfect. It isn’t fair and just. Pain and suffering is part of life. And the list goes on.

20170829_080646
That’s one of the tallest Pine Tree I saw at Burnham Park, Baguio City, PH. 2017. Baguio City used to be a dream.

I’m not saying that dreaming isn’t a good thing. I still have dreams in life. What I’m trying to say is that in my experience, if those dreams isn’t pleasing the Lord, if those dreams isn’t aligned with God’s purposes, if those dreams are self-centered, then it isn’t worth pursuing.

Learning the theories and practice of counseling and psychotherapy made me realize that I still have the tendency to use my dreams as a scapegoat. This, I believe is rooted in my early childhood experiences and my personality. I grew up having extreme introversion. Our family in different seasons of life faced a lot of crisis. Using dreams as a scapegoat became a lifestyle I grew up with. It developed as a defense mechanism and disillusionment. I realized I needed to surrender this negative lifestyle to the LORD. And ask for courage and boldness to confront realities in life. I am reminded to constantly put my faith in God’s sovereign hand. I must learn continually what it means to keep in step with the Spirit’s leading, relying on His wisdom and direction. Transformation is God’s work in me. And that transformation starts in the renewal of the mind.

Paul exhorts,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

~Philippians 4:8

“My Soul Waits for God Alone”

IMG_20170917_090545_560

Meditation on Psalm 62

I woke up with a heavy head. I didn’t sleep well because of the snoozing alarm clock of my room mate early morning today. I thought I might reconsider joining the Pastors and Workers’ meeting at 9am (Note: This was written a few weeks ago). But I decided to go anyway because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be with fellow servants in the LORD. I thank God that I was able to go to the meeting and catch up with the meditation. Meditating on God’s word together, relating it in our situation at church and praying for each other allowed my suppressed emotions to come out and find assurance and comfort in God’s word. So, allow me to share to you some thoughts and reflections on the passage.

A little bit of a background on Psalm 62. According to some scholars, “Psalm 62 is a sustained declaration of trust in God.” It starts with the proclamation of the psalmist’s relation to God (vv. 1-2) followed by a picture of enmity in the social setting (vv. 3-4). Then a repetition and a broadened view of the first proclamation of the psalmist (vv. 5-7), followed by an encouragement to the people to put their trust in God (v. 8) than fellow human beings (v.9-10). It ends with an elaboration of reasons to trust God’s character and sovereign ways (vv. 11-12).

Psalm 62:1‭-‬2

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

What are the things that occupy my mind lately that led me to a state of restlessness? In what ways can I find rest in God? I asked.

For the past weeks, I haven’t been sleeping properly. I don’t understand why but I can feel the weight on my shoulders. I’ve been having anxiety attacks. Felt the pain welling up deep within my soul. But I can’t figure out what specifically needs attention. Then the LORD rescued me from the pit. HE ministered to me. HE brought out in the open what needs healing when we reflected on Psalm 62. I can’t help shedding tears. All the pain I hid deep down my heart felt like an open wound, bleeding so bad. I can relate with King David’s agony in his dreadful situation. One reason why I’ve been anxious the past weeks is grief. I grieve over the losses. I grieve over the consequences of the sins committed by some person I used to looked up to. I grieve over injustice and unrighteousness. Like the psalmist, my soul finds rest in God alone. Re-assured that He is my rock and salvation created a safe haven for me to show my vulnerabilities and rest on His unchanging grace. The awareness of my state pointed me back to who I am before my God and find security in His sovereign hand. I may not see His work in me. Rest assured that “He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 62:8‭, ‬11‭-‬12 NIV

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

I just find this phrase very encouraging. Why must I put my trust in Him at all times? The answer is simple: HE alone is my refuge. HE is trustworthy. HE is faithful and true to HIS promise. HE is powerful and HIS love is unfailing. HE is my Great reward.

God invites me to be authentic before him. HE invites me to draw near, to pour out my heart, to remember who HE is. I may not know how long this phase of the journey ends. Rest assured that the God of King David is the same powerful and loving God that cares. I find comfort in that. This dark night of the soul will soon come to pass. Soon!

Reflection on Ecumenical Affirmation

20170921_173204

Ecumenical Affirmation: Mission and Evangelism (1982)

The document points out that each living individual on this planet “is entitled to hear the Good News.” Gospel proclamation involves acknowledging and receiving Christ as Lord and Savior “in a personal decision”. It is an intimate “encounter” with Christ, through the mediation of the Holy Spirit, receiving Christ’s forgiveness, and the commitment to follow Christ in all areas of life, including a lifetime service in his kingdom.

Christ’s call is for all to turn away from sin and its rule in one’s life, full transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit, and participation in Christ’s work here on earth such as social responsibilities that promotes reconciliation towards God and thy neighbor. Conversion only takes place when all areas of one’s life is being transformed. This is only possible through the powerful work and intervention of the Holy Spirit. Conversion also includes one’s personal experience of transformation of perspective, character, and habits. Conversion is “a call to repentance and obedience addressed to the nations, groups, and families.” Since conversion is an “ongoing process that involves a turning from and a turning to,” it depicts a life of forgiveness of sins, redemption, restored fellowship with the Triune God, restored image bearers of God, continuous work of the Holy Spirit, endurance and perseverance until Christ comes back again.

On Christ’s Lordship

“The lordship of Christ is to be proclaimed to all realms of life.”

All realms of life includes that which covers not only the individual believer’s experience with Christ, but how each believer embodies the call of the gospel to “structures of society” where he/she is in. Full submission to the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20), specifically this part of the passage, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Christian education)”, covers a holistic and integrative approach to the proclamation of the gospel. The members of the Committee emphasizes that as the “Gospel” continuously pose a “challenge” to “structures of society”, people will not just be ushered to salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation, but be “renewed” in terms of relating to these “structures”. The “Church” as it is commissioned to share the “good news of the kingdom”, and as it fulfills its call and tasks in gospel proclamation and propagation should also address and respond to issues concerning human life. As faithful stewardship grows, it will be a powerful “Christian witness” that points to the glory of the head of the church, JESUS CHRIST.

On Christian Mission

“Thus Christian mission is the action of the body of Christ in the history of humankind—a continuation of Pentecost. Those who through conversion and baptism accept the Gospel of Jesus partake in the life of the body of Christ and participate in an historical tradition.” 

The Church, as the recipient of the transformative power of the gospel operates solely as commissioned by Jesus, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Together, the church as it fulfills its tasks/mission, embodies Christ’s example, words and work. However, in church history, the church always fails to embody “unity in God’s mission”. I find this very challenging. Growing up, I’ve seen how “dogmas and creeds” at certain seasons get politicized. Many churches were divided not just because of the diversity in terms of doctrine and practice, but on power play, failure to embody Christ’s love, and failure to keep the unity in the bond of peace. Church history has learned painful lessons on Christian witness/missions to the unreached people groups. Christian witness got compromised and worst, lost it’s integrity and credibility. Most of the time in church history, planting churches means replicating a certain groups “church’s model”. Upholding authenticity, culture preservation, and many other things are out of the process. Incarnation is merely present. Following Christ’s way of doing mission is the most challenging for me. Sometimes, it may appear that churches or missions organizations follow Christ’s example but in actual scenarios, it’s the other way around. So, it’s always a challenge to pursue Christ-like methods and strategies whenever certain “doctrinal beliefs”, dogmas/creeds get in the way.

On Obedience in Mission

“Our obedience in mission should be patterned on the ministry and teaching of Jesus. He gave his love and his time to all people…”

I would like to implement this conviction in our church context. As we pursue obedience to God’s leading as a church, it is my prayer that we will be able to give that authentic love to the “least of these” as commanded by Jesus. Jesus heart is for the poor, the marginalized, the downcast, the oppressed. But who are they in this generation? How can we reach them out and share the love of Jesus?

“A growing consensus among Christians today speaks of God’s preferential option for the poor.”

God’s compassion towards the poor has always been present. There are certain laws in the Old Testament that really caters to the needs of the poor. There’s a specific law in the book of Deuteronomy where God commands Israel to take care of the poor as he has been generous to them. It is true that the ministry to the poor has long been exploited among churches. The Lord has been purging and renewing the churches with regard to exploitation of the poor. Christians’ since then are beginning to open their perspectives on God’s heart for the poor.

In our church context where poor communities are within reach, it has been a constant challenge to cater both the faithful proclamation of the gospel and the challenges entailed to efforts on social responsibility. Our church has been a work in progress but we know we can still improve and do better in terms of ministering to our poor brethren.

“The Christian affirmations on the worldwide missionary responsibility of the Church will be credible if they are authenticated by a serious missionary engagement at home.”

This is very true. I remember our Senior Pastor’s lecture at Church Camp last October 2016. He said, we can only be an effective M3 (cross-cultural worker/missionary) if we are faithful M1’s (church member who’s involved in missionary efforts). Our church has been a strong “sender” ever since it started. But sending missionaries doesn’t just end in providing monetary support. I’m glad that our church is learning to do better when it comes to missionary engagement. Little by little, the church provides more learning, equipping and training venues for the church members, leaders, pastors and workers in doing God’s mission.

“Christians owe the message of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ to every person and to every people.”

If this conviction has been the conviction of every believer there is, how many people could’ve truly heard and accepted the Good News? While it is true that some people from other religious faiths are won or drawn to the gospel through “ideological persuasions”, others don’t. It doesn’t always work for all. Proclamation of the Gospel to people from other religious faith is truly a long journey and effort done together in “communities of freedom, peace and mutual respect.” One example is a locally established Faith group. It has been our church’s long-time neighbor near UP Campus. I remember our former Senior Pastor writing an “Open letter” to this “Faith group”. Our Senior Pastor’s purpose of writing is not just about “ideological persuasions” but the practice of “mutual respect”, extending peace, and the faithful proclamation of the gospel. His example has been imitated by members of our church and we’ve been striving our best in keeping a peaceful relationship with the said “faith group”.

 

The Light

 

IMG_20170926_024053_377

Light in the dark shine on me

Even when my eyes can’t see

When darkness strikes and life is blind

Help me see the SON shining so bright!

Light in the shadows help me follow

Follow Thy path amidst all sorrows

This pain in the dark won’t stay longer

Your light will heal and lead me on.

Light in the horizon let me look beyond

In hopelessness to You I will lean on

Let me see Your light shaping all colors

Your sweet promise I see in the rainbow

Light of love You’re all I need

You fill me with grace, joy, and peace

In the dark night of the soul, You hold me still

This shall come to pass for You are near.

Romans 13 and the Sovereign Filipino People

Captive Thoughts

I’ve gotten myself into a number of discussions on social media and small group huddles lately, about what followers of Jesus are supposed to do during these politically turbulent times. Every now and then, someone would give a sharp critique of certain actions of the government, critiques which I consider to be quite reasonable.

So I find it strange when in response to these criticisms, someone would say, “but should’t we just obey Romans 13?”

View original post 1,428 more words

Moving Forward

20170829_081135

Moving forward doesn’t need to happen now. I realized that people grieve differently. I heard that people grieve at different phases of life. Some take years to recover, while others don’t. Regardless of the case, one who experiences grief needs time, a lot of understanding and support.

 

A Love like no other

A love like no other

I found in no other

than the ONE who gave his whole life

As a ransom for all

HIS is a love that is true

HIS is a love that is infallible

HIS is a love incomparable

For HE is love, a love like no other

HIS love is boundless, so vast beyond all measure

A love so pure, holy, and perfect

Immeasurable like the horizon

HIS love brings life in abundance

Shalom and justice in perfect harmony

HIS love is art and beauty

So mighty, powerful, and strong

It transcends through all generations

A love I received as a gift I’m unworthy of

Oh love that would not let me go

So faithful, so eternal

A fountain I can draw upon

A love I can always rely on

In all seasons and circumstance

A love like no other is the Father’s only SON

HIS name is above all names

LORD of lords, KING of kings

JESUS CHRIST, the greatest lover of my soul.

 

Heart’s Confession

Hear my heart’s confession

Christ is first and last

Where are you in the picture?

You’re the love I pray and ask

HIS love is my foundation

My standard and solid rock

‘Cause only in Christ I can truly love

A sinner saved by grace as I am

I may not know what the future holds

I may not know what’s in your head

As long as I know your heart is beating

For the ONE who gave his life for us.

 

Choosing you

IMG_20170902_130634
Quote taken from Thought Catalog.

Choosing you was a difficult decision

I had to weigh many things

But even in the choosing

I see God’s hand of grace

We may be flawed and imperfect

We may have painful past

But God has been good and faithful

HE redeems, restores and heals us

We still have doubts and fears

We say, our love has yet to grow

But since God chose to love us first

I take a step, risk, love and let God work

No more but’s and if’s

I’m learning to be courageous and brave

‘Cause HIS perfect love casts out fears

Now I’m choosing to love, wait and pray.

20170829_083448