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

Beloved, Let Him Go

Just a little confession: I am in no way an expert at this. I have loved and I have lost and I have spent months and years in an emotional limbo, hopelessly stuck in a place I don't even think I want to move on from because it's the only place I can still find him.

But maybe that's exactly why I have to speak to you about it. Because, my dear, it's 2017 and my heart breaks just watching you bringing the pain and confusion into the new year. Just when you thought you can begin anew, you found yourself in the same cycle again.

It's ironic when you know that breaking up was what's best and the relationship was already doing more harm than good, and yet here you are still at the same place you began.

It's a tug-of-war, you see. Your hands grasp so tightly to the rope, fighting to hold on and at the same time fighting to let go. You push and you pull and you always end up finding yourself bleeding and calloused and oh so tired.

And you know what, it's okay. It's okay that it's hard. It's okay that it hurts. The pain is valid. It's normal. We all need to go through our own journeys, with our own processes. Please go at your pace for wounds take time to heal. Two steps forward, one step back, it's fine. As long as you keep moving.

But if you're honest to yourself and you know that you're not even going anywhere and you're just stuck there, then let me be honest here too. The battle isn't really between you and him. The battle is between you and yourself.

You have to actually want to get over it, sweetie. From deep within you, you have to decide to. It's impossible to help someone who doesn't want to be helped. It's you who gets to make the decision to stop replying. You make the decision to take captive every thought and stop imagining the 1,000 ways the two of you can reconcile and get back together in the far off future. Most importantly, you get to choose whose hand you're going to hold: his or His.

This isn't about actively getting yourself into church activities or finding laughter when you're out for fellowship. Those can help, and they're good, but they're not the answer.

He is.

I don't want to make it sound easy because it's not. It's actually incredibly difficult. However, it's also rather simple. I'm not saying that the moment you choose God, all your feelings will miraculously go away. It doesn't work that way. But beloved, He works.He will work through your emotions and He will work through your situation and you will see Him working this heartbreak for your good.

It's terrifying letting go of what you're so used to. Some days, you just miss having someone to love you. Some days, you wonder whether you'll find a relationship that great again. Some days, you get frightened once you realize that all your plans that always included him are now scrap. But then, that's a wonderful place to start again.

Endings make for good beginnings. 

I beg you, close the door. You need to. Losing him might mean finally finding yourself – and much, much more. Don't chain yourself to the past and miss out on embracing all the future holds. The world is waiting for you to fully step into who you are. You were not created to retreat. There's a million opportunities ahead of you, an endless array of open doors and chances, so stop holding yourself back. Stop holding on to a guy you always believed would die for you when there's One who already did. This Guy, He's not just a band-aid for your broken heart, He'll take all the broken pieces and put them back together. You shouldn't treat Him as a soothing balm when He is the cure. You may have thought love meant grasping, but now there's a love Who would hold on to you. And this Love, just a little tidbit, His hands bled for you too. 

Palms closed tight keep the shadows in. We capture the light with open hands.

Breathe in. Breathe deep. Exhale.

No matter how long it takes, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how stuck you feel sometimes, no matter how many times you have to decide over and over again.

Slowly, fingers uncurling, relinquish. Let go.

Not because he found someone else, not because you want to find someone else, but because now, you are found.


Welcome the new.


It’s Christmas and Everything Seems Dark

“Why are there no lights out?”

It’s early December and I was pouting to my brother how everything is as Christmas-sy as it should be except the new city mayor decided not to waste money on lights and decors this year.

A few days after that, we were on the drive home when he complained about how everyone had their headlights on full bright because it was so dark outside. I put my head out the window, strained to see, to catch even a glimpse of light, but there was none. No street lamps, no stars, no moon. Just the blackest night.

Christmas was supposed to be full of cheer and luster and sparkles spilling, so why did there seem to be no light in sight?

News recently broke over Aleppo, the 4-year war reaching its pinnacle and I sat there in the lunch table, everyone laughing and talking as my eyes were glued to my phone, pictures of people dying, my fingers scrolling, scrolling hoping to find something that will help make sense of everything. Christmas banners were hanging over us and I can’t stop thinking of how the civilians were made into chess pieces, clinging on to freedom banners, desperate for a sense of hope.

Hope. How to have hope when hope has failed you before?

I lie in the middle of the dark, masking the pain of broken plans and expectations as I stare at my journal, wondering what happened to God promising that this year will be far better than the last. I ache, wonder, ponder, the same way I broke down in the arms of a friend for the first time this year mere days before, letting the dam crack just a tiny bit in her compassion as I admit that I was so tired of waiting and hoping. I was never the hopeful sort in the first place because of my tendency to be very realistic.

And yet, still, I can’t seem to snuff out hope.

For there, in the middle of the mess and my so-called realism, a small sliver of light started fighting its way through my broken heart and I couldn’t do anything to force it back down.

Then I’m reminded that Christmas is not about everything being light and bright. It’s about that one star hovering over the manger, steady for those who have eyes to see. I recall how myrrh, the third gift of the wise men, is most commonly used for embalming – myrrh was presented to baby Jesus as the foreboding of His death. And that act in and of itself appears brooding and gloomy but it tells me one thing: Christmas isn’t about simply His coming, it’s about His coming to die that we might see that still, small light.

For right there, from the darkness of the womb, He emerged to the light of life. 33 years later, from the darkness of the tomb, He emerged to give us the light of eternal life.

This is the God who, from the very beginning, spoke out against the dark…

“Let there be light.”

Christmas reminds us that from darkness emerges light, always. Christmas reminds us that darkness will never overcome light. Christmas reminds us that even if the promise takes 4,000 years coming, it is still coming.

Here is a God who chose to come in the middle of a genocide, as a refugee, as a carpenter’s son. Here is a God who chose to die through the worst form of torture, lawful justice withheld from Him. Here is a God who not only knows our suffering but has been through world’s suffering.

Here is our God.

We can still hope because we know Who we’re hoping on.

Two days ago, my friends and I were walking to the park late in the evening to have a picnic when there, I saw.


Thousands of lights up along the streets and up in the sky. Shimmering, gleaming, radiant against the dark.

I breathed out against the chill.

Darkness couldn’t do anything to light because darkness is simply the absence of light. Fire up a small candle, put on a small bulb, and darkness has nothing on light. In fact, it is in the darkest darkness that light would be seen brightest.

The pits of failure, depression, anxiety, fear, and shame are real and they plunge murky and deep, but His love is real-er and it plunges so much deeper. His light will always chase you down. His power is made perfect in your weakness.

Because, Emmanuel.

The Bright, The Star, The True Light is always here with us, glowing, burning deep within our hearts, iIlluminating the dark.

Hope, against all hope.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:2, 6‬

#ChristianGoals: Be Magical

This is the second installment of my #ChristianGoals series. To read the first post, click here.

Magic (n.) \’ma-jik\
:an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source.
(Merriam-Webster)

I want to be magical.

Just kidding.

Well, maybe not so much. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fairy princess with luminous pink wings. I wanted to be an astronaut and an archaeologist too, but those are just side jobs. Primarily, I wanted to be a fairy princess with superpowers. Preferably one that is followed by pixiedust wherever she goes. Though eventually, I grew up old enough to realize that magical fairies did not exist, so instead I settled on wanting to be a warrior princess.

I still do.

I think every Christian should be a warrior princess (or prince): someone who understands that being royalty means living for others. Someone who is so secure that she (or he) focuses less on proving self and spends more time making others feel important. Someone who isn’t afraid to stand up and fight for what is noble and true. Someone who is beautiful in righteous fierceness.

I hate to say this, but more Christians are leaning to the “spoiled-brat” side of the royalty spectrum rather than the honorable side. It has become about me, myself, and I. We are the generation of believers who throw their hands up in the air not to lift Him up but to shake our fists at Him when things don’t go our way. We are the ones who scream and whine until people adjust to what we want. That’s why it has become so easy for Satan to convince people that Christianity is moot. We’ve allowed the war to wage in front of us as we sit back munching popcorn inside outlandish home theatres. We choose to fight the battle by hiding behind our computers, armed with memes and mic-drops, spitting venom and snark as we wave our swords in the comments sections of blogs and Facebook posts. We walk away feeling self-righteously victorious over our enemy, when in actuality it is Jesus who is left most injured.

Should we really be surprised that “Christianity” repulses so many people at this rate?

As the body of Christ, shouldn’t our arms be open to embrace those who are broken? Shouldn’t our hands be stretched out to those who are sick as we declare in faith? Shouldn’t our feet be going to places other people refuse to go? Shouldn’t our words be full of grace and truth rather than just grace or just truth? Shouldn’t our hearts be bleeding for all those who are voiceless and invisible?

Instead, our eyes refuse to see, our ears are unwilling to hear, our arms cross and close, our hearts stone hard and cold, our chins are adamantly raised high, our knees are reluctant to kneel, our mouths gossip about what the hand does, our eyes judge where the feet go. Our entity that’s supposed to be a beacon of light is more well-known for being the bully and for vilifying those who don’t believe the way we do than for reflecting Christ’s kindness and humility. We look more like Pharisees than we look like the apostles, sitting comfortably in our church pews so we can be spoon-fed as opposed to stepping out of our comfort zones to where God has called us so we can speak what He wants to be said, so we can do what He wants done.

I don’t believe in a social gospel because good works cannot save you. It’s impossible to have a kingdom without the King. But as people who claim to have the King with us, I believe that it is important to start acting like His kingdom. And He asks us to forgive (Mark 11:25-26); to give to the poor (Matthew 6:1); to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and comfort those in distress (Matthew 25:34-36); to resolve disputes harmoniously (Matthew 18:15-17); to lead by serving (John 13:14); to go the extra mile (Matthew 5:38-42); to honor our parents (Matthew 15:4); to make and teach disciples (Matthew 28:19-20); to love others as we love ourselves, including our enemies (1 John 4:7-21); and to walk as Christ did (1 Peter 2:21).

This applies to all Christians, it doesn’t “depend on one’s specific calling.” We differ in our gifts and specialized callings but sharing our blessings, seeking justice, showing mercy, loving people, and caring for the poor should be inherent in is as Christians. Being prophetic or having the gift to heal or do signs and wonders does not exempt you because you are “supernatural enough” as it is. These are important, definitely, but our character is still our loudest testimony, and there’s no use to “living a life of otherworldly miracles” if our hearts turn out to be Jesus-free.

Beloved, instead of wondering which verse would gain the most retweets or thinking of how to throw shade with your status at another person without losing all grace, we should be reflecting on whether or not we mirror Christ’s compassion, mercy, and dignity. Maybe we should be stressing less over how sensitive other people are to our “playful bullying” and “teasing sarcasm” and be wondering more if our words still honor Christ. Maybe we could start caring less about our Christian status symbols and caring more about the state of the rest of the world.

Because there is no sense in preaching the gospel when our lives preach otherwise. And evangelion, the Greek word for gospel, means more than “good news.” Its historical implication means that there is a saving message but beyond that, there is also a changing of the world for the better. Rick McKinley once wrote that taken out of the context of the kingdom, the call to faith in Christ gets reduced to something less than what the New Testament teaches. The gospel of Jesus Christ should be hand in hand with the gospel about Jesus Christ. To further quote, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Gospel is not just informative speech, but performative speech – not just the imparting of information, but action, efficacious power that enters into the world to save and transform.

I think people mistake what to expect when called as sons and daughters of God. Most would expect pampering, spoiling even. And yet the Firstborn Prince of God, the One called Lord of lords that we are so often reminded in the Bible to imitate, went down His throne, lived as part of the peasant class, allowed Himself to take the very nature of a servant, died for filthy, broken people like you and me, fought with sin, death, and the devil, and rose again victoriously for our restoration and redemption. I guess it’s about time we do royalty the way Christ did; it’s about time we wage war the way Christians should.

And the truth is, it frightens me knowing that fighting the enemy means far more than winning arguments and being simply nice. It means understanding that the opponent is a serpent and that he knows how to bring a citadel down from the inside. It means putting on the full armor of God and being alert (Ephesians 6:10-18). In the way I spend my free time. In the way I spend my money. In the way I speak. In the way I think. In the way I act. Daily. Moment my moment. Decision by decision. Second by second.

Think about it, truly living Christ’s way, and start counting the cost.

And then maybe we’ll find that Holy Spirit working in us and giving us grace to live this way is far and beyond supernatural. Maybe there is nothing more magical than a life saved and transformed by Christ; nothing more miraculous than a person choosing not to live in selfish whims or ambition, but choosing to live considering others more important than self.

Maybe we’ll find ourselves far more transcendent than fairy princesses with luminous pink wings, leaving light brighter than pixie dust in the wake of our trail.

“Truthfully the possibility for hypocrisy in this faith journey abounds. Though we speak of a perfect God, we ourselves are flawed, messy, wrecks destined to fall short—but that’s not a good enough excuse not to strive. Let our failure not come easily or without great effort at the beautiful alternative of stumbling after Christlikeness. If we are indeed to fall, let it be as we seek to fly.”
-John Pavlovitz

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
-Ephesians 2:10

We could start by having compassion for the crowds. Aside from (obviously) sharing the gospel, going to the mission field, or simply being more gracious and filled by the Spirit as we drive on roads or answer to certain comments, some advocacies I personally recommend are Real Life Foundation (gives out scholarships to underprivileged Filipino children), United Nations Population Fund (whose vision is a world where every pregnancy is wanted and every childbirth is safe), UNICEF (fights for children’s rights) Doctors Without Borders (they bring medical aid to where it is most needed), World Health Organization, The Malala Fund (focused on providing education to young girls), CARE (whose community-based efforts are deliberate on empowering women and fighting poverty), UN Women, Human Rights Watch (they investigate abuse cases and fight for human rights), and UN Refugee Agency among many others. For those interested in volunteering here in the Philippines, you can look for activities and causes that would fit your passion through iVolunteer. You can also ask your local church and government for scheduled outreach programs you can participate in.