Is It Really Wisest To Wait?

“It is wisest to wait.”

How many of us have heard this, have said this, time and time again?

Wait. Until you’ve saved enough money. Until the window of opportunity opens. Until you’re ready.

And I agree, I really do. However, though this may sound contradictory, I think this advice can be mistaken too.

Please don’t get me wrong. Of course, there are finances to be considered. Of course, timing is a huge deal. Of course, there are steps to be taken. But practical doesn’t always mean wise. The truth is, there are some things we just can never be “ready enough” for and it is possible to overstay a season far too long because we keep waiting until “everything falls into place.”

When I think of Mary, who was most probably around 14 years old the time she had Jesus, I can only think of how she was not ready, being unmarried and a virgin at that. Her wildest dreams could not have prepared her for that twist in her story, yet even as she felt troubled and as she questioned the situation, she took a step out in faith and accepted what was to happen next in her life. There is also Rahab, a prostitute who didn’t wait until she “cleaned up her act” to do God’s work and grabbed the opportunity to help a couple of Israelite spies as it came. David, who was only mentally prepared to go deliver food to his brothers when he decided to go where others dare not to, chose to make do with what he had and faced the giant with mere sling and stones – no sword nor armor.

These people didn’t wait to be brave. They didn’t wait until they had all their ducks in a row. They didn’t overthink the pros and cons and turn over every detail to get to the “wisest” strategy or game plan. They took what they had, here and now, and acted in faith.

You know, I always ask myself, “what is the wisest thing to do?”, and with hammered-in views on what wisdom is supposed to look like, that usually leads me down a path that is well thought out and safe. So “to balance things out”, one more thing I ponder on is, what is the faith-full thing to do? In this situation, at this time, what action will require the most faith from me?

. . . but should it really be wisdom vs faith?

Let me tell you something. After I graduated, I was mentally prepared and rather excited to move on to the next season. I was pumped up and ready to do whatever God would have asked of me.

He asked me to stay still and to wait.

At that time, given how it was the complete opposite of what I expected, it required the most faith from me. So I stilled and waited. Fast forward to almost two years later, when waiting had become my comfort zone, God asked me to step out and move. Even if it was still exactly about moving toward the next season, faith now required something different from me. So I took action. My mind and heart were again ready to fully plunge into what was coming. And then after a few weeks, God asked me to wait again when the “best” thing to have done is to jump the iron while it’s hot. He knew that at that moment, the way I was, it would take more faith for me to pause once I got going. (This tango, my friends, is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to be an all or nothing kind of girl 😅).

But if all that taught me anything, it’s this: maybe wisdom doesn’t mean being rational and faith doesn’t mean being irrational. Maybe wisdom means forgoing reasonable and faith means forgoing risky. Maybe wisdom means doing what is illogical, choosing what is unpredictable, and taking a chance on the uncertain while faith means doing what is logical, choosing what is predictable, and taking a chance on what you already know.

If that was hard for you to follow, let me put it this way: wisdom isn’t simply being practical or sensible. Faith isn’t about being illogical or unreasonable either. This life isn’t a game of wisdom vs faith. The wise act in faith and the faith-full act in wisdom. It takes more for the impulsive to slow down and plan the same way it takes more for the wary to take a dive headfirst into the uncharted, thus it goes the same both ways – choose what frightens you; choose what stretches you; choose what requires the most faith.

So, is it wisest to wait?

Not necessarily. But always,

It is wisest to act in faith.

. . . without faith, it is impossible to please God.
-Hebrews 11:6

The World Is Hurting And I Don’t Know What To Do About It

My thoughts and emotions are still hazy as I type this. I have barely uttered a word to anyone the past 3 hours, still unable to process the news about the Bastille Day attack where a man went behind the wheels of a truck and plowed through the sea of people watching a fireworks display, deliberately running over every person that he could for 2 kilometers. Just last week I texted my best friend at 4 in the morning, crying and unable to sleep because for weeks there have been more and more news of terrorist attacks and murders as compared to the previous months. Since I couldn’t do anything, because it wasn’t like there was need for relief goods, I just asked God to relieve their hearts and to relieve mine. I prayed.

At least that’s something, right?

For years, I have searched the net at least once a week for updates on killings and wars all around the world knowing full well that some events, no matter how serious, do not go viral. I list down the countries and incidents down on a sheet of paper then find out more about the victims and people involved in desire to see them beyond the statistics.

I have signed a petition calling the President of Malawi to pay attention to the fact that albinos all over the nation were being murdered and decapitated because their body parts were believed to have magical properties. I have donated to the UN Refugee Agency when the Syrian crisis got worse. I have prayed.

That’s got to be something, right?

Even so, I have always felt frustrated at myself that I couldn’t do more, that I couldn’t be halfway across the world being there in the frontlines, actually doing something active to help. So I just pray.

It’s the least I could do.

Some time ago, I had visions of wars, dreams of deaths, and I wrote them down on a journal. Then I prayed until the relief came. I prayed until I stopped crying. I prayed until I no longer had images of red in my head. I waited until God gave me the bigger picture, the image of redemption after the pain.

But today, the visions came in photos of reality. And too blinded by grief, I have no clear image of restoration. I don’t see flashes of rebuilding. I don’t see the bigger picture.

Is there still anything?

Yes, His promise.

“It isn’t over yet.”

My vision starts to clear.

I see Him who is bigger than the crisis. I see Him who wipes away every falling tear. I see Him who holds together that which is broken.

In the crippling dark, He is blinding light.

I was never the answer. He is.

So I pray. I’m not sure if I can move earth with my words but I can try and move heaven.

It’s the most I could do.

For love is greater than hate and faith is greater than fear.

That means something.

Photo grabbed from Independent UK article

Rape, Catcalling, and Abuse: This Is My 20 Minutes Of Action

I honestly don’t know how to begin writing this. More than a year has passed since the Stanford rape happened yet it has only been days since the issue blew up when the verdict was passed, and since then I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It wasn’t just that the rapist got a light sentence, it wasn’t just that this case is high profile although I have always had great interest in those. It was the fact that the father of this boy went ahead and downplayed the crime that his son did – and they both went as far as hiring professional witnesses, manipulating statements after finding out that the victim couldn’t remember anything, and re-victimizing the lady just so they can find something to use against her.

I have been looking for a way to participate in actions against the sentence from this side of the world, only to find out a couple of hours ago that amidst the public outcry, his 6-month sentence might even be cut in half as stated by county sheriff. And so resigned, I decided that the best form of action I have is to speak up and address something else; something that goes beyond speaking out about faulty justice systems, entitled schoolboys, and rape culture because there are already so much of that (although I have also done quite that on my Facebook page 🙈).

Our sexually-stimulated culture has been desensitized to both men and women being objectified. Ogling someone of the opposite gender can be done blatantly with no repercussions; catcalls and hot stares follow the footsteps of almost every person who ever dare walk the streets alone; fear and anxiety prickle through the body whenever the darkness of the night begins to hide the light.

Low whistles, undressing gazes, and “accidental” brushes have marked my almost every turn since I was 11, a mere freshman in high school. I have had guys who appeared well-mannered approach me in places I deemed safe, proving my first impression wrong when they start crossing personal boundaries. It didn’t matter if I was wearing my school uniform, loose sweater and jeans, or a tight-fitting top and short shorts – they were relentless. At first, I was a fireball – snapping and angrily staring back at whoever dares to hoot at me, only realizing afterwards that the aggressiveness arouses boys even more and so I have learned to keep my mouth shut. I have learned that should I make the wrong move, I would be accused for “stimulating” these boys by the way I dress, the way I move, or the way I speak. I have learned that maybe the best way to stay safe was to keep quiet. I have learned to ignore the stares, brush off the suggestive words, shake away the lingering hands, and quickly walk straight ahead with my head steely held high – barely batting an eyelash while my friends and siblings get riled up and angry for my sake. Each and every time they do, I tell them not to, acting like I was okay even when my heart and body were rigid. I tell them to shake it off, always pretending that being near strange males did not make me feel paralyzed and paranoid, never sharing how many times I only pretend to be brave. I don’t tell them of how often I have to convince myself to give guys I don’t know the benefit of the doubt still; of how hard I have to fight my defensive stance in desire to be gracious and not be judgmental. I tell them to let it be because getting upset won’t change a thing and having accepted that fact, I have gotten used to it. 

When was it ever okay for human beings to get used to this – being treated like an animal displayed in a zoo? When was it ever okay to steal a person’s dignity with a single look, a single word, a single touch; with 20 minutes of action?

The image of the Creator sketched into the face of the beloved – vandalized. The worth the Savior has declared when He died so humanity can live – denied.

How can we go back to the design of the Father, leading children in the way that they should go – mothers raising kids who know the value of women, fathers raising children with strength that serves others? How can we not be like Adam and Eve who looked for someone to blame, and instead learn to be accountable for our actions, humbly accepting the mistakes we have made and the consequences that come with them?

People, the decisions we make when we are “provoked” only speak of what is truly in our hearts. An attractive person passed out drunk isn’t “asking for it.” A woman dressed provocatively or a man walking around topless doesn’t mean they want to be jumped by a breathing organism who can’t keep hormones under control. Act like you are of honor because you are, no matter what the circumstance. Your actions are completely your own. Take responsibility for your body so precious that it had to be paid for in blood.

Because men, this is how God loves women: that when He chose to enter the world, He chose to do so by entrusting Himself to a woman. He believed in her strength to stand with her head held high amidst rumors and scandals. He hid Himself inside her womb and allowed Himself to be cared for by her love and gentleness. When a scandalous woman laid at His feet and His disciples were outraged, He defended her, protected her, and lifted her high in spite of her reputation. He never would have leered at her or made sexual insinuations. When He rose again, He decided to reveal Himself first to women, commissioning them to testify even when no man would believe in a woman’s testimony at the time. He made them heroes and gave them regard in a time when culture wouldn’t. He saw them for who they are – human beings of respect and value completely in their own right. Who are we to not do the same?

And women, this is how God loves men: that He chose to reveal Himself in masculine form. He entrusted to man the task and authority to rule over His crearion. Time and time again He had believed in a seemingly ordinary man’s ability and proceeded to use this man to bring change that impacted peoples and nations. The Bible has acknowledged good-looking men several times and yet aside from fleeting mentions of that fact, they were ultimately upheld for their accomplishments, their character, and their integrity. He Himself walked the streets of earth as a man with no impressive physical acclaim, wanting to be known not for how He looks but how He loves. Men have failed Him over and over again yet He continues to trust in their strength amidst weakness. He taught them how to be men, He never gave them an excuse to not be men, He never robbed them of being men. Who are we to not do the same?

This is the truth – that every crevisce of every being to walk this planet was carefully crafted by God; that Christ’s body was battered and His blood flowed out in torrents just so His love can be felt by every soul. And as a people, let us not allow the world to destroy what He built. Let us make our voices heard. Let us make our lives speak. In a world where only 3 out of every hundred rapists are arrested, let us fight for justice. In a nation where 1 out of 4 experience physical or sexual violence, let us fight to speak up. In a city where we have to keep looking over our shoulder in fear, let us be unmoved in courage. In a generation that pushes obscenity and vulgarism, let us be undeterred in purity and respect. In a culture where everyone bends, let us stand. Because this, this is the heart of a true Father.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
-Micah 6:8

For everyone interested in this particular Stanford case, you can sign a petition ousting the judge through the White Houses’s WeThePeople here or through change.org here. If you live in the United States, you can file for a recall by mailing a complaint. Please send me an email or a message through the contact box placed somewhere on the right of this webpage and I will send you the format and the details. I know it may not seem like much but at this point, this is the most action we can do and it matters. Thank you!

Featured image from The Guardian article, photo by Tessa Ormenyi. Note that I wrote this in such a way to acknowledge that both men and women experience rape and abuse. I understand rape culture and its bias against women but I chose to state things in a way that highlights value and respect on both accounts.

How To Be A Pharisee

“How immature, that’s definitely not Christ-like.”

The words run through my head as I watch people lose all sense of Spirit as they get mad, yell, and be irresponsible.

“How judgmental, that’s definitely not Christ-like”, the silent whisper in my heart answers back so quickly that I bow my head in repentance and shame.

Considering that I was far worse before, it’s ridiculous to think how self-righteous I still can be. In the path of wanting to be like Christ, how often have I turned into a Pharisee?

Not that Pharisees are necessarily bad people. Oh sure, we’ve gotten used to playing them out as the villains in the Jesus story, but to some degree, I believe they meant well. They studied the books and the law, and they did their best to enforce what they knew. In fact, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who wanted to learn from Jesus and who provided the tomb for His burial respectively, were both Pharisees. It’s just that ultimately, the average Pharisee was marked by self-righteousness and self-importance, the exact opposite of Christ’s humility.

Needless to say, I get quite frightened and worried when the little thoughts and attitudes yet again creep up on me. And I want to share with everyone the tell-tale signs, what I check in myself to know if I’m acting less like Christ and more like a Pharisee:

1. Getting smug about being “more mature”

When I start to compare a person to myself, thinking “he would be better if he just read his bible, spent more time with God, and obeyed like I do”, I know I’m in trouble. This is self-righteousness and judgment wrapped up in one sentence. This is me forgetting that it took me a while to grow too. This is me actually being immature.

The truth is, the more I learn about God, the more I realize that I hardly know anything. Christianity isn’t a competition.

2. Being exclusive about friendship

I have had serious issues with this in the past, and it is still a conscious effort for me to be more welcoming. I can engage and make small talk with anyone, but I am very, very picky about who to befriend. Yes, wisdom should be involved in choosing who to let in, but a lot of times, I don’t even give people a chance because of preference. It’s convicting to think that Jesus welcomed all sorts of corrupt and sinful to dine with Him while I don’t want to have lunch with certain personalities.

3. Refusing vulnerability and accountability

When image and reputation becomes more important to you than community and honesty, you know something’s wrong. The Pharisees hampered their growth simply because they refused to let other people speak into their lives. They refused to acknowledge mistakes and they had a façade on all the time, such contrast to Christ who allowed Himself to be broken and shamed, to be embarrassed in front of many people and be a whole new kind of vulnerable.

4. Defensiveness when corrected

How instinctive it is to start justifying when confronted, to be in denial when rebuked, kind of like how the Pharisees refused to accept what Christ was saying about them.

5. Being pushy about rules and convictions

One word: Legalism.

Now they all actually boil down to pride branching to self-righteousness, but I do think it helps to be aware of which specific ways it tends to rear its head. A heart-check is always of utmost importance. Also, if you just read the list spitefully thinking, “I know someone else like this”, you probably need to look at yourself too. 😉

I Give Up.

I give up.

There, I said it. I just can’t do it anymore.

I’ve never really talked about it on this blog and I only shared about it to very few friends, but let’s get it out in the open now.

I graduated from university almost two years ago with the idea that I’ll pursue either pursue world missions, further studies, or work straight after traveling for a bit. Slowly getting my options in a row, my e-mail was full of messages from Stanford MBA Admissions and London Business School, with job-interviews for Rockwell and Ayala lined up.

And so I still recall sobbing on the phone outside Apartment 1B a day after I got back from Taiwan, my brother beside me as the news that I had to put a hold on all those plans because God had other plans hit me out of nowhere. The only consolation I got that night was Wes ordering all the dessert from the menu to comfort me and Janna standing out of a balcony with me as the Ayala lights flickered away from across the street.

Not that I’m sitting outside a restaurant right now bawling as strangers did their best not to stare at me, but I find myself in the same internal setting once again: bewildered, a little lost, plans in a disarray as I turned down yet another job interview earlier this week because God told me that I can’t do so until He says go. I honestly can no longer count the number of times I’ve had to say no because He said so, and it’s been wearing me thin.

Don’t get me wrong. As much as I’ve been jobless and living in the province, the past year has been the most wonderful year of my life as it has been full of surprises, adventures, and so much of Him. 2015 made sense.

2016, so far, not so much.

You see, He told me beginning of this year to sit back and watch everything unfold because this year will be far better than 2015. But all I could see unraveling is my heart; the frustrations and doubts buried beneath layers of “God, it’s okay”, “I trust You”, “I surrender to Your will” coming out.

The first quarter of the year is almost through and let me tell you, nothing quite spectacular has happened so far. And so when He whispered a date to me twice earlier this month, I held fast to it.

“March 19.”

I counted down the days in fear and anticipation. But March 19, 2016 came and went without anything significant happening, and I felt my fears being justified. That is, until He told me again.

“March 19. Ask Me why.”

Those three extra words, and my head fell in shame. Out of my desire, I assumed instead of clarified. And when I clarified, I found out we were talking about two completely different things.

He asked me to check out my journal entry from March 19 of last year. I was baffled because I knew full well that there wasn’t anything special going on this time last year. But I wasn’t going to make the mistake of pushing what I wanted, so I did.

I approached my bookshelf praying dearly to God that I didn’t mishear Him on this one, and upon scanning my entry on March 19 of 2015, I knew I hadn’t.

Staring right back at me were words I have spoken in the past, words that resonate in me in the present.

“Teach me how to wait on You. I want things to come to pass as I like, but I know You have something better planned. It’s only March 19, and I know You have so much more in store. I will not go ahead of You. Teach me to enjoy the anticipation. As much as I want to pull off the blindfolds and see where I’m headed, I trust You. It’s hard. Some days, I feel like I’m just being stupid. But I know no word from You will ever fail. I wait for Your work and story to unravel.”

The stark contrast between my perspective last year and this year humbled me. I have allowed impatience and discontent to get the best of me. I have wanted to take control of circumstances as I have before.

He so perfectly knew that the best person to remind me of how I gave up before was me from a year ago. He perfectly orchestrated this meeting of past and present. And I know He will perfectly weave the past, the present, and the future.

That’s why, yet again, I give up.

I give up trying to predict You. I give up trying to chart the future and mapping out in my head all the things that were to come my way. I give up fixing my eyes on what is seen.

Rather, I fix my eyes on the One who sees the unseen; the One who already knows the journey, the climax, and the end of my story; the One who, as we speak, is working behind-the-scenes.

I don’t know what I’m waiting for, but I know whom I’m waiting on.

For if there is one thing I’m not giving up on, it’s this: that He is.

My dear, no matter where you’re at, know that He is. He is faithful. He is sovereign. He is trustworthy.

It’s okay to give up to someone like that. And when you do, He will give back. Indeed, it might not look like anything you’ve expected, but it just might be beyond your wildest dreams.

“For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”
-Isaiah 64:3-4

A Lover, Not A Sugar Daddy

I still remember the day I first saw you. Immediately, you were etched into My heart. It was love at first sight and since then, I adored you with all My might.

I’m sure, being in a relationship with Me is not all you pictured it to be.
Because you knew I treasured you so immensely, you pictured rainbows and butterflies when in reality, all I offered you was a love that would fight for you; a love I hoped you’d fight for.

And so I ask you today: why do you love Me?

Do you love Me because of the gifts I give you?
Do you love Me because of how tightly I hug you?
Do you love Me because of how gentle I am?
Do you love Me because of My promises, My glorious plan?

Or do you love Me just because I am?

Will you still like Me if blessings stop going your way?
Or when you can’t see the light of day?
Will you still want Me if I do not answer your prayer?
If I say no to all your desires, will you still lift Me higher?

Now what if death happens to someone you love?
What if the promise doesn’t come when you expected it from above?
What if I ask you to wait twenty years more?
Will you still be there, praising my name even as you lay crying on the floor?

What will happen if I take all your prized possessions?
Will your mouth speak worship or will it mutter moans?
Will you grumble like a spoiled little baby?
Or will you, in faith, hold on to what you cannot see?

When you feel My absence, will you still be faithful?
In your heart, will I still be the One in reign, in rule?
When I discipline you, will you allow it in humility?
Or will you be defiant and refuse, acting so stubbornly?

See, I think I need to remind you
It is a narrow road you have chosen to pursue.
You require too many blessings of this earth,
Is it not enough that I have died so you may have birth?

When I ask you to take up your cross
Will you die to yourself, none too much of a loss?

Beloved, this is a two-way relationship, so do count the cost.

If you want to love Me, love Me for all I am

I am Love as I am Justice
I am Grace as I am Truth
I am Patient as I am Wrath
I am Kind as I am Discipline
I am Forgiving as I am Holy

I am He

Father, King, Lord, Lover


Not Sugar Daddy.

I do believe that God promises to bless His people. However, I also believe it is good to check our hearts every so often to know why we actually follow God. I have heard people turning their backs on Christ so many times just because He refused to give what they wanted, as if He existed for our satisfaction and not the other way around. I honestly grieve when people complain of how much God is requiring of them; such a stark contrast to the disciples who readily laid down their lives for Him with no question. People seem to think that following Christ should mean tangible rewards. 

“God since I obeyed You, give me…” 

Newsflash: God does not need to “pay” us for our obedience. I think we all need to be reminded that we live for His glory – every breath we breathe, every second we’re alive is to His glory.

We love because He first loved us, and the greatest manifestation of that love is His sacrifice on the cross. He need not give us any more proof of His love, for that act alone was proof enough. The fact that He created us and He died for us and He continues to sustain us is enough for us to love Him for all that He is with all that we are – even if material blessings no longer come our way, trusting that our reward is in heaven. 

One ultimate question I would want to pose is this: will you live for Him – even if it means you will have to die for Him?

May it be that it’s okay that we have nothing because God alone, to us, means everything.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

-‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:24‬ ‭(emphasis mine)

My Issue About The Manny Pacquiao-Homosexuality Issue

Practicing homosexuality is a sin.

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again. Manny said it too (with regards to same-sex marriage), and it’s gaining coverage with more and more people taking a stand about it. He could have said it so much better, and he fell short there, but it doesn’t change the truth that sin actually disgusts God.

Now here’s the thing. So many people are speaking out on social media, defending Manny, standing by the truth – and that’s wonderful. But we should never forget that practicing homosexuality is just as much of a sin as lying is. Yes, it may have greater repercussions and implications and there will be greater consequences, but in the eyes of a holy God, it’s just as equally horrendous. So here’s the truth: we were just as lost as the homosexuals currently are – we were no “better” sinners.

I know Christians who laughingly say “I repented already” before pirating a movie. I know ones who cheat and lie so naturally; ones who dishonor their parents; ones who are caught up in pride, bitterness, unforgiveness, and self-righteousness. But guess what? Those are all equally sins – all equally hated by God. And in the same way that people refuse to sway about the truth on homosexuality, I hope we also stop tolerating all these other things. 

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
-James‬ ‭2:10, 12-13‬ ‭

Now, I would never defend homosexual acts. And to the ones out there saying that homosexuality is seen in animals and God created animals that way, please take time to look at the Bible and see that the first time God stated that He made them “male and female” was when He created man – He never actually said He made them “male and female” when He created the animals. That’s the truth. Homosexuality isn’t of God. 

But it doesn’t mean I can’t be compassionate about it. Because these people are just as lost as I was before. I would never downplay the magnitude of the sin, but may we remember that answering back at our parents, cheating off our seatmates, refusing to obey what God told us to do, and choosing not to forgive a person is just as wrong. May we learn to have just as much distaste for the “little” sins as we do for the ones paid more attention to by mainstream media.

In light of eternity, the “levels” of sin do not matter. In the sight of a holy God, no sin is “holier” than the other. Don’t get so driven by truth that you fail to love, and don’t get so caught up in trying not to offend that you lose the truth. So when we correct, always keep this in mind: is it full of truth? And is it full of grace? 

“(They) said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?… When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

‭‭-John‬ ‭8:4-5, 7

Now please don’t mistake this as justification for sinning because sin can never be justified. One doesn’t defend his sin by stating how sinful others can be also. In every area of our lives, may we simply live in light of God’s holiness, not of other people.

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.””
‭‭-1 Peter‬ ‭1:14-16‬

(Dear Church): Stop Vulgarizing God

“The basic trouble with the Church today is her unworthy conception of God.”
-A. W. Tozer

This topic has been placed in my heart months before, but whenever I try to write on it, I stop in fear that I might get it wrong. No subject intimidates me more than the nature of God, for who am I to dare capture the wonders of God in a page. Yet I know I could run no longer. And so I speak, fully acknowledging that there are people far worthier to speak of this, but also acknowledging that this is something God is asking me to do. As you read this, I hope you be conscious all through out that we tread on incredibly holy ground.

I would never, ever dare add to or subtract from the truths that God has spoken. However, I hope you understand that as much as I try to speak of God in a manner that is as worthy of Him as possible, I also try to speak of this in a way that people would understand. No word can ever capture the immensity of God, but I will try to convey all of this as eloquently as possible. I do not wish to balance out God, for God cannot be balanced. He just is, and so I will simply declare who He is.

Let’s begin.

I cannot count the number of times I have felt the Holy Spirit grieve when people belittle who God is. From Christians using “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!” as a joke to ministries making God out as how they want Him to be, we have come to a time wherein God’s holiness and perfection are trampled by culture. “Oh my God” and “Jesus Christ” have become common expressions, with a Tagalog counterpart coming out as “Jusko Lord” – and we hear these coming from our own mouths as well, don’t we?

It’s startling to think that we have lost how powerful God’s very name is. His name is holy and sacred, and it isn’t something to be taken lightly. We have put God in the backseat, talking to Him when it’s convenient to us as we drive our lives down the roads we want to go, as if speaking to the holiest and most powerful being in the universe doesn’t deserve our utmost attention. We get bored reading the Bible, like the fact that the One who seats in heavenly places, surrounded by angels adoring and worshipping His every move, wants to convey His heart in words to mundane mortals such as us is not a wonder in itself. We do ministry like God should be grateful that we do work for Him, acting as if the very breath we take and every move we make is not done through His grace and power.

I recently talked to a friend who was in a standstill in her relationship with God. I was digging deep until she said the magic words… “I’ve known God for so long, I feel like there’s nothing new anymore. And besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little compromise since it’s not exactly sin.”

There’s nothing new because as a generation, we have chosen to magnify “God is love” while ignoring the rest of His attributes. A “little” compromise isn’t seen as sin because we have neglected the holiness of God. “God is love” “Jesus is Savior” “God is good” – THE END. As if that’s all there is to Him. It’s time we allow God to break the boxes we have placed Him in, because He is so, so much more than just love and just good. We have to stop letting ourselves be fooled by theology that feels nice, and we have to see God for who He truly is.

I have heard people justify things that are not pleasing to God by saying “God loves me and He wants me happy.” Let me stop you right there. Anything that goes against what God has spoken in the Bible is sin, and sin goes against the very nature of God. I’m not saying God doesn’t love you, I’m saying that He immensely does. And because He loves you, He wants you to stop being caught up in that limbo that you’re in. Yes, He wants you to be happy, because He is such a good God. But He wants you to be happy in truth. And the truth is, God cares more about your holiness than your temporal happiness.

These days we have somehow come to perceive God as a father in heaven who is pleased with every single thing that we do. We think that being a good father means that He should support whatever it is that makes us happy. But that’s not true. It may go against what society says is a good parent these days, but a good parent disciplines and makes sure we’re on the correct path. A good parent aligns us to our God-given destinies, not let us be pulled further away in fear of hurting us. And that’s exactly the kind of parent God is. Him loving you doesn’t automatically mean He’s pleased with the choices you make and the things you do. 

That being said, Exodus 20 clearly states how God is a jealous God. And because He loves you, He doesn’t want to share your heart with anything or anyone else that will take His place. To defend your sin by bending who God is now means that you have allowed something else to overtake God’s place in your heart. Indeed, God hates the sin and not the sinner. In fact, God has sent His Son to die for the sinner. On the basis of God’s love, He has extended His grace and has extended His patience until the Day of Judgment comes. But if the sinner fails to accept His grace and consequently follow Him, then let me say this: on the basis of God’s holiness and justice and righteousness, this same God who encompasses love will eventually send sinners to hell.

I know it’s uncomfortable to think about. It’s making me uncomfortable just by writing about it. But it has to be said. God’s truth is supposed to challenge our innate desire to please what is of the flesh; it’s supposed to go against what has been so deeply ingrained in our culture. As Francis Chan put it, there is a need for those of us within the Christian bubble to look beyond the status quo and critically assess what is in the Bible. We cannot pick out just what we want to hear and believe, then set out to live according to one chapter. God is unchanging, meaning that who He was in the Old Testament is exactly who He is in the New Testament. Don’t think that God was more judging in the Old Testament and more loving in the New Testament. You will also find mercy in the Old Testament and you will also find commands of self-denial and obedience in the New Testament.

Can you imagine how much it must pain God that He is only desired for one of His attributes? It’s like your spouse telling you he likes you because you’re sweet – and only because of that! Our relationship with Him in no way changes who He is; it changes who we are. Think of it this way: it’s like being married to the President of the United States. We have the privilege to talk to him any time we wish to, but it doesn’t diminish who he is. He is still the most powerful man on earth. It is thereby us who have been elevated to being the First Lady. And so I beg of you, be extremely careful how you choose to view God, for this will drive your life. Stop taking Him for granted. Reflect on Matthew 7:21-27, and work it from there.

God is infinitely love, and I cannot exaggerate the goodness of God. It is this love that draws me closer to Him each and every day. I am incredibly grateful for His mercy and grace that sustains me (Isaiah 63:7). He is the Father that awaits the return of the prodigal son; the One whose arms I can run to and trust to embrace me (Luke 15:11-32). He is the Savior who came to serve and to reconcile sinners to the Father; the One I call a Friend and can tell anything to (John 15:14-15). He is the Spirit that surrounds and leads and dwells in His children; the One who comforts and encourages me (Psalm 143:10; John 14:15-29). Yet He is also the God of wrath, who righteously judges and condemns the wicked (Psalm 7:11-16; Romans 1:18-32). He is the Master who asked the ones closest to Him to deny themselves and suffer for His sake (Matthew 16:24). He is the Eternal Truth that convicts sinners and is grieved whenever we vulgarize Him (Isaiah 63:10).

It’s hard to put together, I know it is. But this is where faith comes in. We trust what is written in His Holy Word, and though we can’t fully grasp it, we trust in His mysteries. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Job 38-39). He is such a complex, beautiful being, and it would be an honor to get to explore Him all the days of our lives. I’m incredibly grateful to be part of a spiritual family that acknowledges God’s all-encompassing glory, and I pray that you have such people to walk with too. I hope you don’t mind as I directly pray now.

Father, thank You for all the love that You have showered upon us. Thank You because Your kindness leads us to repentance and that it is by Your grace that we are able to see Your glory. Jesus, thank You for bridging the gap so that we may approach the Father in this way and Holy Spirit, we ask that You open our eyes to the things unseen, open our eyes to Your truth that we may enjoy walking with You all the days of our lives. Cleanse us from previous beliefs and break our mindsets, no matter how painful and uncomfortable it may be. Rid us of our unrighteousness and iniquity as You make us Christ-like and call us holy. Meet us where we need You and how we need You. Father, we long to know You. Give us the hunger to read through Your word that we may know You beyond what we hear from others. May we experience You beyond an intellectual manner, and may Your Spirit lead us into freedom; may Your presence surround us all the day of our lives. Surround us with people who will walk with us as we get deeper into the chambers of Your heart. We utterly adore You for all that You are. Thank You for Your wonder and mysteries, thank You for Your infinite glory. Please come for us. This we ask in the name of Jesus, Amen.

New Year’s Resolution: Move On

I had a New Year post all planned out, and it was sooooo not this.

It’s December 30, we just had dinner at CJH, and dad’s driving to visit our tito’s house. We were joking around until out of the blue, I felt an onslaught of emotions overtake me – emotions that I have not felt for a very long time, emotions that had absolutely nothing to do with where I am at the moment. And so among chatter, I sat in the backseat, riding along the laughter while hiding my face in the darkness with tears streaming down my face, wishing my voice did not break as I tried to act normal.

Every day for the past couple of days before this, I was looking back at my year and would simply thank God because I could not think of a day that He did not come. 2015 was the best yet, it was filled with adventure and growth and love, and I was so grateful for everything I experienced this year. I was so happy that it felt like my heart was going to burst of joy, so to say that this sudden outburst caught me by surprise would be an understatement.

See, I thought I was okay. I thought I completely let it go. So as I searched my heart and as I asked God, I couldn’t help but flash back to Abraham, because what happened with him and Isaac was something I always connected to. I have not wanted anything more in my life, but I laid it there before the altar and I plunged the knife through. I could say that I surrendered, because as much as I wanted to take it into my arms, I released my sticky fingers and just let God do what He wanted. And so while my cousins and siblings were out there in the living room laughing and playing board games, I was inside a room crying yet again, asking Him why, why make me feel this way again when I have not thought about it for months. Then His quiet voice pierced my soul with the answer.

“Because you have been waiting for a resurrection.”

I was stunned. But deep in my heart, I knew I was. I kept a door open just in case, and somehow that meant that all doors to other possibilities remained closed because I still wanted it most. Let’s put it this way. For example, God said no to a job. I submitted to it and completely delved in the season God put me in now. Yet a part of me remained hopeful that God would bring that job back to me when I’m ready for it. And there would be other wonderful job offers coming my way but I would turn them away because I was waiting for God to open a door to this specific job again, this one that deep in my heart I desired most. I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with it. I was just staying open, what was so wrong with that?

Then it hit me.

I may have let go, but by not exactly moving on, it’s like saying I knew better than God, it’s like saying I knew what’s best for me still. Why keep a door open to something God has said no to already in the first place? I was hoping He would change His mind; I was hoping somewhere down the line, He had a grand restoration story planned out. But killing it at the altar meant that I had to accept the possibility that my story would be different from that of Abraham’s, and that there will be no giving back.

And I know a lot of people who surrender convinced that if they do it now, they can have it back later. In fact, I came across a beautiful song by Moira Dela Torre, and the lyrics go “kung di pipilitin ang di para sakin, baka sakaling maibalik” (if I don’t force what’s not to be mine now, maybe some day it will be). Doesn’t that echo our hearts? That if we obey and surrender now, we can have it back when the timing is better. Now it’s not that I’m saying He won’t give it back, because God is a God of resurrection. Yet as far as I know, He only brought back to life those that He willed to do so. Not one story fits all. Of course, we all want that story to be ours. But if He resurrected everyone, could you imagine earth right now?

Don’t get me wrong. God listens to our desires, and He loves giving us the desires of our hearts. But there’s also this tension that He won’t, because He has something better planned out for us. 

God is a personal God, so my story might not be yours too. But surrender means forever laying down your plans. And so whether or not He calls the fire to kindle again, I pray that the desire of His heart be our outmost desire.

I believe that 2016 is to be of wider borders, grander adventures, and greater stories. So if God asks you to leave something behind in 2015, I pray that you do and that you bury it there because He has so much better things to give you this coming year. He can’t give you what He has planned for you if there’s still something occupying your hands. Don’t be afraid of walking into 2016 empty, as long as you’re walking into it surrendered to His will and completely by faith. Make way for new seasons, new beginnings, and new stories. 2016 is going to be glorious, for His glory will overtake us. 

“…One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭

Have an incredibly blessed new year, and may your days be filled with His presence! ❤️

Why Ministry Will Never Be Enough

This one goes out to those so busy doing things in the Kingdom that they no longer have time for the King.

I was 16 when I became part of the Music Ministry Core Team in my local church. I was the youngest and probably one of the most active. At the same time, I was also heading events for our campus cluster in La Salle. And for the next 2 years of my life, I was caught up in leading Victory Groups (aka cell groups), doing admin work, planning events, volunteering, and counseling that time for God somehow became an afterthought. I had this notion that doing good in ministry meant I was doing good with God. It was okay to lose time communing with God since I was using the time up in ministry anyway. I assumed that since I was blooming and flourishing in the ministry, I was automatically blooming and flourishing in my personal relationship with God.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

You can be thriving in ministry and yet not be thriving in God. You can be so great in evangelizing and volunteering but still lose God along the way. It’s kind of scary because Christians can hide behind ministry, hide behind discipleship, and even hide behind reading the Bible. You can be active in each and every one of these and still end up being stagnant in your relationship with God.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I love ministry. I am still very, very active in ministry. In my current season, I am basically a full time volunteer in church. It is a vital part of our walk with God, and faith without action is dead. However, I feel a need to address the fact that as a people, we measure the relationship of a person with God based on their ministry activity too much. We need to understand that we can be promoted in leadership positions and still reach a plateau in our relationship with God. We can do everything to serve and still be lazy about pursuing the heart of God.

It’s so easy to get passionate talking about what God is doing, about what you’re doing for God, but have you ever gotten passionate simply talking about God for who He is? The amount of time you spend doing ministry for the Lord, have you ever spent the same number of hours not just simply reading the Bible or praying, but actually sitting at the feet of the Lord, waiting on Him, and seeking His heart?

Luke 18:38-42 speaks of Martha, woman active in doing things for God, and Mary, a woman active in waiting at the Lord’s feet. And Jesus said, one thing is necessary, and Mary has chosen what is good. Now it wasn’t that Martha was doing anything bad. Jesus understood doing, He himself did so much ministry. It’s just that she lost the essence of God. Jesus was there in her home, His presence so manifest, and she was still focused on doing rather than simply worshipping. It was Jesus + ministry, Jesus + service. But Mary understood that she only needed one thing, she only needed to wait on Jesus. She allowed herself to be captivated by the One who sat on the throne and not be caught up in things she can do for the Him. 

Please do not be deceived in thinking that knowing a lot of things about God is enough. Do not fall into the trap of believing that doing a lot of things for God is enough. I understand that you just want to express your love for God by using your gifts, and that’s lovely. But God could care less about how skilled we are for our greatest gift to God isn’t our gifts, it’s our hearts. And we give our hearts to Him by waiting on Him, seeking His heart, discovering the facets of His character, and loving Him simply because He is.

God doesn’t seek people who can give Him presents wrapped up in neat bows. He enjoys broken perfume bottles before Him, His feet being wiped by a bawling woman’s tears and hair. He waits for people who will wait on Him.

Doing ministry does not always mean having intimacy. But having intimacy automatically means you understand God’s heart to do ministry. Then, our obedience to God comes not from rules, but from trust and relationship. Do understand, Christianity is not a program. Anyone can follow a program. Every other religion in the world also has pamphlets and trainings and excellent services. The one thing that makes us Christians stand out from all these is His presence, our reflection of His glory. And it is the depth of your intimacy that will dictate how much you reflect Him.

That’s why intimacy will always weigh more than ministry.