Stuck in the Wilderness on the Way to the Promised Land

Around and around and around they went. They weren’t riding on a carousel, but they sure were stuck in a limbo.

I can see it in my head: the Israelites who were taken out of Egypt refused to allow God to take Egypt out of their hearts and so a journey that was supposed to take only 11 days took them a whole 40 years. They were walking around the same old mountains and the same old obstacles with the same old grumbling, the same old entitlement, and the same old bitterness.

Although, when you think about it, doesn’t that metaphorically represent a lot of us these days? 40 years later and it’s the same old anger, the same old gossip, the same old slander, the same old lust, the same old unbelief – the same old issue. And because we’re going around the same old circles, we end up being stuck in the same old place.

I’ve always liked telling people that we’re all in the process, but the reason why it’s a process is because it’s supposed to get us to the promise. The problem is that these days, we tend to romanticize the process and what we could journey in 11 days would end up taking us 40 years if we’re not careful. Most of us seem to have forgotten that the Lord brought us out of our own personal Egypts because He wants to bring us into our promised lands. We were never meant to be stuck in the wilderness. The last thing we want to do is miss out on God’s promises because of our preferences. If we want to move forward, we have to let Him take the Egypts out of our hearts. We cannot continue on being the same old us.

And we have to understand, us attending church and doing ministry doesn’t mean we are already in our promised lands. There’s so much more to it than that. Think about it: these people were journeying with the ark of the covenant. The presence of God was right there with them. They even had the provision of God as they were sent manna every single day without fail and none of the clothes and shoes they were wearing ever ran thin. But still, even then, they didn’t get to enter the promised land.

I will put it this way: you may be around the presence of God and you may have the provision of God, but that does not mean you are in the promise of God. He is kind and gracious and He will give you enough just to get by where you are at but goodness, He has so much more for you than that.

Do not think that just because you have come out from where you were that you are already where you need to be. It’s not enough that you are delivered from Egypt, you would want to experience the freedom of the promised land. That usually entails a journey through the wilderness – and you’d be surprised how comfortable you can get there.

We like to tell ourselves that we can stay in a certain place for as long as we want to and to take our sweet time walking through our issues, but the apostle Paul tells us this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
-Hebrews 12:1-2a

Let. Us. See, here’s the thing. It is completely within your realm of capability not to let your fingers type out that website and not to let your eyes feast on what is being shown on your screen. It is completely within your realm of capability to stop replying to that boy that has been flirting with your emotions all year long. It is completely within your realm of capability to bite your tongue and control the words that go out of your mouth. You, even more empowered by the grace of God, can throw off the sin that so easily entangles.

And the truth is, more often than not you’re going to have to keep on throwing all these things off day in and day out because they’ll go creeping back up on you. That’s fine, as long as you keep throwing them off each and every time until they no longer have a hold on you.

After the generation of Moses died without stepping into the promised land, Joshua was commanded to circumcise all the Israelites. Why? Because they had to be consecrated before the Lord, and consecration usually means there has to be a major cutting off. It was painful, and they stayed there until they recovered, but they marched straight on after they healed.

In the same way, God will cut off certain things in our lives and we have to let Him. To enter the promised land, there has to be a circumcision in our hearts – it’s the whole point of the wilderness! And we will be given time to heal, but I reiterate: we cannot stay in that place longer than we should. Paul said we were to run (not stroll) after all.

Some of us are being told to wait on the Lord and that’s completely fine. It’s one thing to wait for God to give you the promise and another for Him to wait for you to get the promise. I’m talking to the people who are in the latter category.

If you’re in a place right now that is complacent, if you feel like you have reached a plateau, then maybe there’s something that needs to be done.

When the Israelites were walking into the promised land, they ran into a wall. Not a figurative one, but a very literal one. History tells us that the wall of Jericho was 34 inches thick and so fortified that no one came in and no one came out.

I’m pretty sure this has happened to a lot of us when we were on our way to our own personal promised lands. The things that should have happened did not happen and we got hit by a wall. This is the point people shake their fists at God, hurl their disappointments over failed expectations at Him, and some just walk away.

But Joshua did not walk away. Rather, he came to the Lord and was given instructions that did not make sense; instructions that seemed like they had completely nothing to do with the breakthrough they were waiting for. So even if they felt silly and did not understand, they obeyed anyway. Every day, they walked and did their laps around the wall in complete silence – because nothing speaks louder than faithfulness even when things are not going your way.

And after 7 days, the walls came crashing down and the Israelites took hold of the territory God had for them. Before they did, they rescued a prostitute named Rahab, who hid their spies, and her family. Rahab then became the mother of Boaz, who was the grandfather of Jesse, who was the father of King David. They may not have known it, but their small acts of obedience in the moment set the story up for the generations that were to come after.

That and they finally got their promised land.

It’s amazing to see how we don’t just fight to get to the promised land for ourselves, but we also do it for the world around us. In stepping into your destiny, you place yourself in a position that would help others step into theirs.

And while I could tell you that it doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you get out of there, I wouldn’t. The time it takes for you to get there actually matters. I pray that you never overstay a season – not for a single second – and may you fight for and step into all your promised lands.

We don’t want to rush on ahead, but we don’t want to fall behind either.

Fight for Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
– Proverbs 4:23

This verse has been preached a thousand times in a thousand different ways. But such are the joys of the Bible being living and active – there’s always something new to get from it every time.

Allow me to tackle this today in a different way.

I have recently gone through a process with the Lord wherein He took me to different places in my memories – memories that I somehow managed to forget were there. At first, I was apprehensive and tried to run away. I wasn’t quite ready to face where I was being taken and wanted to protect myself from the hurt that I knew was coming.

The Lord then had to talk me through it. “I’m not trying to break your heart. I’m trying to bind up your broken heart.”

I was confused because I was at a perfectly good place. At least, I thought I was. The Holy Spirit then kindly made me understand that there were issues I buried from years ago that I thought were already dealt with but in fact still had roots, and it was time to deal with them before they come back up rearing their heads. I really didn’t quite think they were worth paying attention to because the blows I took were not as horrible as others have received. However, we all break differently and such comparison of brokenness doesn’t invalidate the trauma.

There started a process that was painful, to say the least, but was also enlightening. You see, I thought I was protecting my heart by putting up walls and keeping it safe, but the truth is I was actually killing it.

We’ve taught ourselves to not talk about things of the past; to not think about things that hurt. We say what’s done is done, but does that really make it over?

There is constant talk about how the love of the Lord is like a soothing balm over our injuries and yes, that’s true. However, His love is also like disinfectant fiery over our wounds because His hands need to take the bullet out and stitch up the holes.

It hurts, but it’s necessary if we want to live.

If we want to really protect our hearts, then we have to stare all the painful memories right in the face and not look at away. We have to go back to those moments and bring the Lord with us.

It gets scary because we do have questions and regrets. “Why did I do that, how could I have been so stupid?” “Why did the Lord allow that to happen to me?” “Why is life unfair?”

And so it’s important to hold the Holy Spirit’s hand through all of it; we need to be aware of what He is saying about all the things we went through. We also need to be reminded of the fact that the enemy comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. He is actively working day in and day out to snuff out your hope and your spirit.

It might sound threatening but reality is, he’s threatened of you. He’s scared of all the things that you could become and is terrified of you reflecting all of God’s goodness and glory. Therefore, he has set up a thousand situations to take you out and has placed a million lies in your head, telling you you’re not good enough, that you’re unwanted and a burden, that it’s all your fault and that it happened because you had it coming anyway.

But one quick look at the Bible will tell you that even before the Lord formed you in your mother’s womb, He knew you. While you were still a sinner, He died for you. And His heart is to bless you, heal you, and give you life that is lived to the full.

You’ve probably heard of conspiracies regarding the Illuminati and that they make agreements with the devil so they can have the life that they want. Making such transactions with Satan is not the only way to have an agreement with him. Each and every time you agree with his lies towards you and even towards others, you are entering into an agreement with him.

We have to cut ties with those lies. This is not just about having low esteem. This is spiritual assault at its finest and this is why we have been implored to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

Notice the term “take captive.” It’s a term that belongs to the vocabulary of soldiers and the military. This is because we are in a fight and we have to understand that trying to ignore the battle or deny the war does not mean we will be spared from it.

One of the common translations for one of the names of God “Jehovah Sabaoth” is “The Lord of Hosts.” The literal translation for this name is “The Lord of Angel Armies” and I like that a lot better. The Lord has been constantly accused of being a bystander, but He has been anything but. In fact, He has always been the frontliner, going forward as the sacrifice for the rest of the people.

We look at all the defeating blows humanity has received and point fingers because we have bought into the idea that we don’t have to fight because we have Jesus, but that is heresy and just another lie the enemy has managed to infiltrate in our culture. It’s like someone from the Navy saying, “I don’t need to fight, the Commander will do all of the fighting.” We have been called to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) and to take up the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We have to realize that we have been slated into this war and were never meant to play civilians; we were meant to be warriors.

A verse that I commonly hear being quoted completely on its own is Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” as Moses told the people of Israel. What people fail to pay attention to is the context of the verse, because in the next verse, the Lord told Moses “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”

You have a part to play. You have to keep moving forward. Don’t allow the enemy to belittle the things that the Lord has placed in your heart. Remember that Satan does not want you stepping into all that the Lord created you to be and will do anything to prevent that. He will try to break you down, discourage you, meet you with failure and dishearten you.

Wonder, love, grace, joy – the world wants to take it all away from you. Hell will fight you over what heaven has called you.

There will be doubts. You may be fronted with shame and judgment. Satan may even use people to mock you and look down on you, but don’t lose heart. Think of Joseph’s brothers and how they were so threatened of Joseph that they plotted to kill him. If you’re in that situation, know that it only cements the fact that there is a good future waiting for you and that if you push through, there is glory to come.

“So, it becomes the devils business to keep the Christian’s spirit imprisoned. He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes. He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage, we will never be able to claim our rightful spiritual heritage. He knows also that while we continue bound in this kind of enslavement we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead.
We must face up to the issues and attitudes and doubts which constitute our fears, that keep us from being happy and victorious Christians with the true liberty of the children of God. We seem to quake about many things. In the first place, are you still afraid of your past sins? God knows that sin is a terrible thing?and the devil knows it, too. So he follows us around and as long as we will permit it, he will taunt us about our past sins.”
-A. W. Tozer

This also helps us be sensitive to the fact that everyone has their own battles. So be kind, be gracious, and love one another as Christ has loved you. Stand together in prayer and hold the ropes for each other. The Lord knows we all need it.

Don’t be afraid to bring to light all that you’ve hidden in the shadows. Don’t put your heart under a shade and hide it away. Don’t buy into the lies of false humility and shame.

Allow everything in your heart to shine and break through. If we truly want to protect our hearts, then we fight to keep them the way the Lord designed them to be – loving, selfless, brave, and free.

“As for myself, I have learned to talk back to him on this score. I say, “Yes, Devil, sin is terrible-but I remind you that I got it from you! And I remind you, Devil, that everything good -forgiveness and cleansing and blessing- everything that is good I have freely received from Jesus Christ!” Everything that is bad and that is against me I got from the devil -so why should he have the effrontery and the brass to argue with me about it? Yet he will do it because he is the devil, and he is committed to keeping God’s children shut up in a little cage, their wings clipped so that they can never fly!”
-A. W. Tozer

You Deserve More Than Secondhand Love

To be honest, from the moment this blog blew up back in 2015, this has been one of the things I have always wanted to say. This was something I constantly expressed to my friends, but somehow had a difficult time putting it into words considering how ironic it would be to come from someone like me.

But even for the past two years as I wrote and stopped writing, this remained in my heart:

Beloved, you deserve more than secondhand love.

And I don’t mean that in the romantic sense. I’m talking about how you deserve more than secondhand love from me. I’m talking about how you have the right to access the source of all the love and knowledge that I get to share to you.

You know, my every blog post has been theologically searched out, because more than the advice and the extra-biblical stuff, I want to be faithful to what He has said first. Every word here that got to touch you, that got to minister to you, only came to be, only came to me, because God was gracious enough to enlighten me.

What you hear from your favorite Christian speakers and authors, you should know that all those insights came from God. And more than wanting to point you back to God through not-so-many-pretty-words, at this time, I want to straight out encourage you to go right to the source so that you will experience that kind of direct revelation as well.

Please don’t mistake this as me telling you to not read other books or listen to podcasts. I for one personally enjoy doing so. They really help and guide and God uses those things to bring to light and for people to see more of Him. I mean, really, I’m saying this as one who blogs.

It’s just that, more than anything, I want to tell you that rather than waiting on every word that comes from the mouth of a blogger, you can choose to wait and meditate on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Nothing could substitute that – no matter how seemingly well-written or timely. Every other source should be secondary.

Now, don’t even get me started on the famous speakers who gain so much acclamation because they say things that seem right, but are actually laced with wrong. That’s one of the reasons why numbers of Christians get into this, because we want to point you back to the right path, we want to lead you into the truth. But more than the “guidelines” through what we say, you’re going to need discernment for yourself to sift through what you get to hear even when it sounds nice. And that’s not something anyone can teach you. As much as we try, we can’t filter and sort through everything for you. There are things you have to personally hold His Word up to, so then you will see what is truly sound advice from that which is deceitful.

Maybe, the reason why there are still certain struggles with our identity and security no matter how many affirming articles we’ve read is because we only ever get to hear secondhand what God has said about us. Maybe it’s time you stop wanting to keep on hearing and hearing from others what God has already said about you and hear what He has to say for yourself.

Reading the Bible may sound daunting to you. Talking to God and learning to hear from Him may seem unfamiliar. It may seem boring. It may seem like it’s “too spiritual and that’s not for me.” You may not really know how to go about it. But if you want to, you can reach out to me and I can go through the process with you and help you as you figure things out. ☺

I promise you, as you stay faithful to that, you will hear Him speak to you in ways you never thought you will. You will experience how He targets specifically the situations you scour advice for, and you will find that His words are inexhaustible and still relevant. For far more than anything I ever get to say that touches you, it is keeping His words in your heart that will change you. More than me shining His light this way, I want to see you reflect His light too.

It’s about time you get to know Him and experience Him firsthand, don’t you think? Trust me, He has been waiting for you. He has some things to say – words handpicked and chosen especially just for you, directly to your heart and to your situation.

Note: I guess at this point, I can say I’m shifting gears about how I’m going to go about this blog. I won’t in any way stop sharing my revelations and insights and I won’t stop with my “pretty words”, but I will probably get more personal about this now. I want to look back to this one day as a testimony of His faithfulness in my life, a place where I can be reminded of how He has marked my every step with His fingerprints. It’s a new season for me and I’m still navigating it all, but I’ll let Him guide me every step of the way and I do hope you stay for the ride. ❤️

Dear Mr. Right: I Can’t Love You That Way Anymore

Dear Mr. Right,

Just a heads up: this might not make you feel butterflies or see hearts.

I’m assuming you’ve read the thousand of books and posts out there on the qualities “God’s Perfect Choice” should have. Of course you have, you’re a godly man. The truth is, I have always wanted you to be the epitome of what everyone would call “The One”. You know how some people say that from the very first time you lay your eyes on that one person, you just know? Well, I have a type. And this entire time, I have waited for that leap of recognition when I look at faces that pass this physical standard. I have held a list up to every guy who dares to get close to me, trying to see how many qualities on my list he lives up to, trying to rate and trying to see if he is you.

But maybe it won’t be that way for us. Maybe you look nothing like how I want you to. And so let me look for you not through the lens of this world and its superficial standards. Let me recognize you through your bubbling laughter and sparkling eyes, through your kind soul and compassionate smile. Let me see not how many barbells you lift at the gym, but how you arms are outstretched to those in need. Let me see not the brand of shoes you wear, but how your feet are willing to go wherever the Lord says so. Let me hear not how deep and melodic your voice is, but how you speak life, grace, and truth. Let me notice not how high you hold your head up, but how low you kneel before His Throne.

One of the main reasons I will love you so much is because you look like Christ. 

Yet amidst all these expectations and requirements, I realized that while having standards is most certainly not wrong, I was teaching myself to only love good people. I was conditioning myself to love you conditionally, and that the moment you start messing up, I can no longer consider you as God’s best. And I can’t love you that way anymore. I’m done claiming to be ready to love you when it’s actually on the basis of my preferences and comforts and pretensions. 

How can I expect you to never make a mistake when I constantly make mistakes too? How can I expect you to be forgiving and understanding of my issues when I refuse to even give any guy the time of the day because he has struggles? How can I say that I love you when it has become all about my standards and my happiness? 

I sincerely apologize for having diminished your worth to a formula; for thinking that your value is rooted in how convenient it would be to love you. I don’t want you to be a checklist I get to tick off. I want you to be real.

So know that I will also love you in the moments that you fall short.

I never want you to feel as if I would judge you just because you lost control over your anger or had a murky past. I never want you to think that you have to be the poster boy for Prince Charming to gain my affection. All I expect of you is that you love God above everything and anything else; I expect you to revere Him and adore Him and live out your life in light of who He is.

Still even then, I know there will still be mess-ups. You’re going to make mistakes and so am I. We’re going to hurt and we’re going to fight because fairy tales and chick flicks are just that – fiction. But what we have is better. What we have is not a story of pretend written by human hands, we have one written by the Author of the Universe – full of plot twists and conflicts for we are to be refined all through out this journey called life. I doubt that it’s going to be easy, walking on this path together, but there will be no balking the moment things get tough and there will be no running away. There will be love, there will be understanding, and there will be repentance and forgiveness.

See, I don’t want us to be like couples who claim to have missed out on “The One” and that they married the wrong person. My love, to me, you don’t become “The One” when you have fulfilled my preferences; you become The One the moment we say, “I do” – that’s why the path to you must be filled with reason and guidance. You remain to be The One even when you fail and even when times get rough. And though you will change through the years, that wouldn’t change a thing because I know that I would have married a person, dynamic and changing, not a list.

To be honest, I’m writing this more for my sake than yours. I have always been obsessed with getting things right, but I am done having criteria that are selfish and are driven by my individual desires. I’m doing this to remind myself that The One I’m waiting for is also a human being – and I wouldn’t have him any other way.

And so tell me, tell me about the universe hidden inside of you, show me the darkness, and let me point out all the stars I see. Let me commit to you not with knowledge of my ideals, but with knowledge of your faults and your weaknesses. Let me love you not only because, let me love you in spite of.

For while the process of choosing you would mean the need for wisdom on the basis of clear thinking, being in a relationship with you would be driven by wisdom on the basis of God’s unconditional love. And so when I dive into this adventure with you, it means witnessing both wonders and horrors; it means embracing the beauty of mystery and uncertainty.

When I love you, I love you completely – past, present, and future; mess and all. When I choose you, I don’t choose by formula, I choose by faith.

And it is with faith that is neither blind nor naïve, with eyes fixed on The One who first loved, that we’ll get this right.

A Kind-of-Photo-Blog: 20 Things As I Turn 20

I realized that this blog hasn’t been a personal space really. And while I don’t plan on making it too much of such, this post would be a peek into my life. I hope that reading this one would make you appreciate life in all of its entirety – grand or ordinary. ✨

I turned 20 last March 1, FINALLY. Please don’t say twen-teen because I am fully embracing my age as I have waited 5 years to turn 20, no joke. 😅 And so to share my rejoicing, here are 20 things dear to me:

This blog and the readers

This space will turn a year old soon, and I continue to be amazed at how far God has brought this blog. Never did I expect that this would turn out the way it did, and I’ve got to give a shout out to you amazing people who continue to be interested in what I have to say. I am humbled and I stand in awe of your beautiful, receptive hearts. I hope you see His glory overtaking me, always. 🙌🏻

Amazing friends

Old friends, new friends, unexpected friends, and everything in between. I am blessed to have people in my life who would spend 12-hours on a bus to visit my hometown and constantly exchange messages to endure the physical distance; ones I can joyously walk life with – through seriousness and silliness.

             

Good food, tastebuds, and great metabolism

I cannot thank God enough for making eating such an enjoyable routine and for giving me such a metabolism that I can eat every second of the day, not work out, and still not gain weight.

   
    
 (particularly Dark Chocolate, Gummy Candy, and Fruits)

Take my word for it, go and try Brookside Dark Chocolate with Fruit Centers, Godiva Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Amberlyn Almonds in Belgian Dark Chocolate, and Airheads Bites. I eat these three times a day… And more.

  
Also, fruits, because I’m always craving for them and they’re healthy and yummy.

Books

Particularly the ones in physical form, not e-books.

  
Lip tints

Allow me this and the next item. I don’t know how to apply any other kind of make up so these spruce up my entire look immediately. I managed to buy so much of these and I continue to collect them in every shade possible.

Clothes

Fact: I wear maxis and jumpsuits even if I’m just staying at home. Combine this with the previous item and the next one: I am the girly girl who sucks at being girly.

Nature and Adventures

Road-tripping at least a hundred kilometers has become a daily thing for me. I have jumped from a 60-foot tree, hiked for hours barefoot in the mud up a mountain in the rain with no guide (but with an OOTD-worthy outfit), and climbed rocks to dive in rivers. I have gone on so many adventures this past year, His glory is magnificently seen be it through bright lightning storms or soft lilac sunsets, and I am SO ready for more.

   
    
    
  
   

Victory Ilagan

The people and their hearts continually humble me. They’ve just started and there’s still so far to go, but there is such an anointing over this body. The volunteers who are there every single day, even in the midst of finals or night shifts at work, amaze me with their willingness and commitment.

   
 

Victory Malate

A family I can always go back home to.

  

Service workers

This is so random but I have great appreciation for service workers. I cannot imagine how hard they work day in and day out – through the sun and rain. May the job be waiting tables, cleaning streets, or directing traffic – I cannot picture the physical toll and stress. May we all thank them for all they do.

Time

Time to know God more, time to know myself more, and time to rest and be at peace. Even in the midst of back-to-back events and daily services, there is the luxury of sitting at His feet for lengths of time without rush. I am still at the point of waiting without knowing what I’m waiting for, but I am grateful for the time knowing I won’t have as much eventually.

  

Family

I have been a university graduate for almost 2 years now but my parents not once pressured me to work and figure out what I want already. They have spent the past 25 years faithfully loving each other and being cheesy. I have siblings who I can be open with and who put up with my weirdness and crazy. I have extended relatives who are unbelievably tight and supportive even if we’re countries apart. I couldn’t be more grateful.

   

Music

Top of mind, my Christian faves this past year has to be by Bethel Music, Elevation Worship, Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, and Victory Worship. Non-Christian current playlist, I have Always by Panama, Bright by Echosmith, and Love is Beginning by Imaginary Future on repeat.

  
 

Kids

I’ve wanted to have kids since I was a 10-year old kid. No joke.

   
    
     

JaDine

James Reid and Nadine Lustre – the only celebrities (local or international) I follow and I fangirled over, ever. For the first time in my life, I watched a Filipino television show – all because of them. I must confess, I pray for them, I fight for them, and I media-stalk them. Seriously, just looking at photos of them makes me smile. I don’t know what has gotten over me. However, over conversations about them, I got to build friendships with people I never would have expected. I speak nothing but life and blessings over them and anyone who would dare say otherwise – may God keep you accountable for the words you speak. 🙈

     
 

Theology

A relationship with God simply cannot be built on experience alone. It is built upon solid doctrines as well, so that the foundations of that which one holds on to is actually of truth. I’ve been diving into it more and more, and I believe every believer should too.

Brave worship

The kind that offers broken perfume bottles at His feet, the kind that is fixated on His glory and nothing else, the kind that lives out. Worship that is true, authentic, and abandoned.

  

Truth and Grace; Love and Justice

Always both, complementing and never contradicting.

The Triune God

The Father who formed every crevice of my being, the Son who gave up His life to give me mine, the Holy Spirit who surrounds me every second of every day. Forever, I will be caught up in the mystery and the majesty.

  

Holy

It has always been the attribute of God that I highlighted the most, but this past year moreso. I love His love and I couldn’t live without it, but on a personal note, it is in holy that I feel His glory most, piercing through my being. It would be my one word for Him, and it would be the one word that encompasses all I am to be.

  

  

Quite frankly, I spent a good part of this past year being broken, but I still consider it the best year of my life so far simply because there is always joy that surpasses all circumstances. There was wonder in the brokenness for it was in brokenness that I became whole. There was so much beauty in the ruins. And I want to encourage of all of you: there is sunshine behind every dark cloud. There is always something to be grateful for. He is the breath in our lungs. Christ still came down for us. No matter what goes on, He is sill worthy of praise.  Life is so, so beautiful. I love every second of mine, and I am looking forward for so much more. Thank you for being a part of my journey and I believe the best is yet to come! ✨

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

-‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭

  

Dear Reader: Stop Copying My Convictions

Hello, my dearest reader.

I mean this in the kindest way possible. As you read through this, don’t hear my voice in your head as someone mad or annoyed. Hear the sincerity and the heartfelt concern.

As much as I am immensely grateful that you hold my convictions admirable enough to imitate, I must say this: please know why you’re doing it. If you do it because you understood my point of view and God convicted your heart, then by all means do so. But if you’re doing it only because you feel condemned for not having better convictions, then don’t.

I personally have gone through that. Books such as I Kissed Dating Goodbye (though I have nothing against Joshua Harris) have held my stands captive for a long time because the thought of the books sounded nice. It seemed like I would have been less a Christian if I didn’t follow suit. It appeared to me as if I was marring my purity if I didn’t have the exact same beliefs. And so my entire high school and part of my college life has been lived based upon the stances of other people. I spent that entire time being so concentrated on living like a good, emotionally pure Christian girl that you wouldn’t hear anything else out of my mouth other than love (friends who have known me for at least 3 years would attest to this). In fact, I made a completely new blog because looking back, I was kind of appalled by how much my old blog revolved on romance – as if there wasn’t more to life with God. After constant reading of Christian books and blogs about love, emotional purity, courtship, and romance, I have turned into a well-meaning person who made the opinions of others her own, obsessed with getting things right. I have become legalistic.

My most popular post so far on this blog has been the one about guy friends. And while I am thrilled that so many people related to it, I dearly hope none of them broke it off with their best friends of the opposite sex without thinking through the heart behind it. Contrary to popular belief, guys and girls can have relationships built on purity and integrity without the need to overthink every little thing because they have God in the center. Loving each other as brother and sister is a beautiful thing. 

I used to have a “no texting guys beyond 9 pm” rule in high school because someone said so. I used to avoid going on one on one friendly dates with guys because I read that you “shouldn’t.” Only to discover eventually that constant communication and hanging out with guys don’t deter my heart, and that I was only doing it because I based upon a set of rules to follow, not a personal relationship with God. But people, being a Christian isn’t based on a formula. It’s based on having intimacy with the Father.

Gain as much wisdom as you can from these kinds of blogs, but never map out your life in such a way simply to fit a box that seems right. If it’s extra-biblical and it’s not sin, then know that we all have free will in Christ, and you have the right to use your own mind. Know what your spiritual family and leader has to say about it and listen intently, for Christianity still has massively to do with us as a body. Take the ideas you get and consider them. Know your past, know what would make your heart weak, know what you struggle with, know not to cause others to stumble. Don’t live off of the relationships God has with other people because everyone has different histories and stories. Seek Him on your own. Ask God what He would have you do. Is it wise or is it compromise? Would it bring Him glory? Would He be pleased? Would He be honored? Then proceed to hold convictions based upon this awareness.

The most important thing here is that you live a life that is led by the Holy Spirit, a life that is worthy of what Jesus has done, a life that worships the Father in all areas. Develop such an interaction with Him that every decision you make and every word you speak is lifted up to Him. Know what kind of person He wants you to be. And I dearly hope that at all times, you will be in tune to His heart.

Again, this is for extra-biblical matters. For convictions on issues such as homosexuality and pre-marital sex, I have this to say: sin is sin. He will never ever lead you to anything that goes against what He has said in the Bible, remember that. If you feel led to hold convictions that goes against the Scriptures, then know that it isn’t the Holy Spirit leading you.

And for everyone else out there, please know that more uptight convictions don’t make you a better person, so don’t look down on people who hold different views. It’s about God’s grace, not our strength or accomplishments. I remember having seen a wedding video of someone bragging about how he chose not to say “I love you” before they wedded and how he told others to do the same. Now let me tell you, saying “I love you” or holding hands before you get married isn’t defrauding. Don’t get me wrong, I hold admiration for people who do, but simply because it’s what they believe in and not because it’s a trophy to hang on their wall.

We don’t live by formula. I don’t post everything I do for God on Facebook because I don’t understand how it magnifies Him more than me. That doesn’t make me more of a Christian than those who do. I no longer have time constraints as to when I text and I meet up alone with guy friends because it’s not something I struggle with. It doesn’t make me less a Christian than those who don’t. Just as long as we take up our crosses and live surrendered to Him, honor Him in everything, don’t steal any form of glory from Him, and stay aligned to His will, then we’re just fine. Life with God is living under His grace and having freedom under His truth, not under a set of made-up rules.

And so as you continue to walk with me through this blog, I hope it imparts wisdom and truth, inspires you to seek His heart, and points you to His glory, not confine you or the way you live. 

Don’t imitate me or any other writer or preacher out there. Imitate Jesus. And live life to the full. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.

Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
-‭‭Proverbs‬ 3:5-7; ‭4:7-9, 14-15, 26-27‬

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! ❤️

Dear Men: We Need You

Disclaimer: I am not generalizing that all males are boys, for I personally know godly, amazing men who lead and take on the things God have set before them. I also know of situations where it is the woman who messed up while it is the man who stayed and came through. So no, this is not a generalization. Rather, this is an appeal to the males of this generation.

Dear Men,

I was looking through thoughtcatalog and got so struck by how much boys out there are parading to be men that I had to write this. I had to. I am so sick of guys determining their manliness by how many women they’ve dated or how good they are in bed. I am tired of reading articles and watching movies telling guys that it’s okay to be passive, it’s okay to be irresponsible.

I am writing this as a lady of this generation crying out in frustration and despair: man up.

No, I’m not talking about buffing up or beefing up. I’m talking about stepping into the mantle God placed upon you. I’m talking about not making excuses and not running away; I’m talking about taking on the responsibility that should have always been carried by the supposed head of the household.

I have read enough books about manhood to have an idea about how difficult it is for you, how scary it is for you to do something you’re not sure you’ll succeed at. I know you’re scared of messing up. I know you have injuries about your past and doubts about your manhood. I get that, I do.

But we have become a culture where boys are encouraged to stay boys for as long as they can by being addicted to partying, womanizing, and video games, while we have forced girls to take on big responsibilities at a young age and have taught them to shut their hearts away because boys will take advantage of such emotional vulnerabilities.

I’m sorry to say, males want the rights and rewards of being a man while taking on only the responsibilities of a boy.

The media clearly portrays how husbands act incompetent thus leaving the responsibilities to their wives and getting disrespected by their kids. We have got to stop emasculating men, and I dearly apologize on behalf of all women who have. Ladies, open your eyes. It never works to our good. Why fight for similar roles when we have been created for completely different purposes? We shouldn’t be surprised if there is a lack of real men out there – we give them an excuse to be passive anyway by how we fight for control. The fault isn’t all on them. And so I pray that as they step into manhood, we ladies are also backing them up and believing in them.

Because, all feminism aside, women need men to come through for us too.

And so guys, I am appealing to you to fight past your fears and move past your doubts. I am telling you step up and step out. I am humbly asking you to allow the pain of molding and allow God to do His work in you so He can work through you.

There are countless of households out there with absent fathers – drowning themselves in their careers or spending their time in the arms of another woman or in front of the television. Wives are abandoned, children are neglected. And so even at an early age, young girls have come to learn to guard themselves from men and to be aggressive, for no one of that gender ever comes through for them anyway. Teenagers now flirt unapologetically and dress immodestly, giving away their hearts and bodies and going through such crazy lengths to garner attention from guys they hardly even know simply because no attention was ever given to them by the man they need it most from.

I was watching a movie recently where a father was so desperately trying to be cool that he would use cuss words and encourage his son to have sex. My jaw hit the floor. Like seriously, is this what the world perceives manhood to be now? Having the most number of sexual conquests? Getting to lose your virginity before 18? Consuming the most amount of alcohol? And to think that his father of all people would support that. The word father means leader, chief. A son looks to his father for his definition of manhood. So is this worldly standard what fathers have been leading their sons to and not the standard of God? Is this the legacy you would want to leave? Womanizing, conquests, and alcoholism?

NO.

We need husbands who commit themselves to loving and fighting for one woman for the rest of their lives, not boys who think they are men by turning to pornography and “collecting” the most number of ladies as possible. We need fathers who know their priorities and are willing to take the time necessary to build intimacy within the family, not boys who hide beneath paperwork and focus so much on building a career that they risk losing their families for the sake of a promotion. We need sons who honor and respect their parents, not boys who rebel and answer back. We need brothers who set examples and embrace the responsibilities placed upon them, not boys who make up excuses and don’t take accountability of their actions. We need boyfriends who protect women emotionally and physically until they say “I do”, not boys who exploit emotions to get what they want. We need suitors who step out of their comfort zones to pursue and take risks, not boys who play it safe and wait for a door to magically open. We need friends who lead their loved ones closer to God no matter what, not boys who conform to the world to seem cool. We need students who are excellent and take leadership, not boys who copy off someone else’s work and cut class. We need workers who fight for integrity even if it means standing up to their boss, not boys who can’t say no. We need members of the community who protect, love, and serve others, not boys who think only about self-gain and pride. We need fighters who stand up for what is right even if it costs them their lives, not boys who hide behind their mommies once conflict comes up. We need Christians who lead humble, Christlike lives and are driven by God, not ego.

We need men whose lives are not defined by society, appearance, money, career, or women. We need men who allow their lives to be defined by God.

We don’t just need good men, we need godly men.

Stop looking to Barney Stinson and his playbook or Iron Man and his suits for definitions of manhood. We don’t need more boys who objectify women or boys who focus so much on their goals that they neglect their loved ones (movie reference: Age of Ultron). Instead, look to Christ: someone not only willing to fight for what is right and to die for who He loves, but someone who was willing to walk in humility and endure embarrassment, who was ready to give up everything that He is for the sake of pleasing God.

I know it’s a high standard to reach, but it’s better that you take the risk and at least try being a man rather than remain passive and thereby making sure you will never get to be one. I understand that this is unpopular opinion and some of you might already be cringing in their seats reading this. But we, as Christians, have got to stop going with the flow of culture. Look at where culture has brought us anyway, we have so many worries about the seeming loss of humanity in this generation. Instead of worrying, why don’t we do something about? Stop being complacent and start storming the gates of hell. Break the pattern. Go against the culture. Be a world changer.

It begins with you.

And don’t worry, God’s ready to guide you. He has called you. He has qualified you. He will equip you. His grace is there to catch you and to empower you. For no matter what the world has told you, you are a warrior. You are fierce. You are noble. You are worthy.

It doesn’t matter what you have been through, God can use that for good. Just let Him. Allow Him to draw you deeper and develop your character, so He can use you greater.

Fight for your destiny. Be bold. Be courageous.

I believe in you. God believes in you.

So step out in faith. The world is waiting for you.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
-‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:11‬

For material by men for men about being a man, I suggest Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, Act Like a Man by Dennis Sy, The Resolution for Men by Steve and Alex Kendrick, and books by Steve Farrar.

Glorious Mystery

You are above and beyond my wildest dreams
So majestic, so infinite

Wholly love, wholly justice
Wholly jealous, wholly selfless

How is that even possible?

Such incomprehensibility
Such enigma
Oh so lovely

It’s simply impossible to fit You into a box
My mind can hardly comprehend all there is to You
But if You deem me worthy,
I want to explore every chamber of You

Every attribute, every secret
I want to know the depths of Your heart

For You, my Lord, my King
My deepest desire
You, oh wondrous You
You breathe life into me

You have taken off my peeling, graffitied paint
And exposed a fresh, clean canvas
You have illuminated my world amidst the dark
With glittering stars and silvery linings

I press my heart again Your chest
And dance to the beating of Your heart
And how it fills my ears
Your love, so deep and resounding like the waves of an ocean
Speaking of how we will never part

All I want is electrifying, intoxicating, awe-inspiring adventures with You

So may I have the privilege of finding out the method to your glorious unfathomability?

Ahhh, but
But somehow
I know I never will

Charting You just cannot be done

And thus it is my greatest delight to just walk through this life with You
Being caught up in Your enchanting mystery
Resigned to the fact that exploring Your universe means accepting that it is ever-expanding
Boundless in all its glory