#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.

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)

Obedient When It’s Convenient

“The most astounding thing about Jesus is that He is brutally honest about His feelings yet absolutely submitted to the will of God.”
-Timothy Keller

My closest friends and family know that one topic I’ve always felt so strongly about is Lordship, to the point that I recently got into a fairly heated discussion with my parents and brother as we argued the requirement of obedience and the presence of grace. It’s something I always point my friends back to, and it’s something I constantly fight to apply in my life as well.

In relation to it, one thing I noticed is that a lot of Christians can quickly obey when God asks of them small things, yet they can’t when it comes to the big things. And I’ve heard justifications wherein they say that they’re not usually like that, it’s just that this one’s too hard, failing to realize that that’s when surrender matters most. We often hear that it’s the small things that count, but in this case, the big gestures greatly matter too. We can’t make obedience into something that can only be done in our convenience, that can only be done when it’s easy for us.

The truth is that when we can’t surrender a certain dream or person, when we can’t obey because it’s too grueling, it means that we’ve found our comfort in something other than God, and I personally think that that is such a telling sign of the real state of our hearts. Tullian Tchividjian once asked, what are you trusting in, other than Jesus, to gain acceptance or approval, to experience security and significance, to find meaning and purpose, to discover identity and direction? See, you can’t say that you love God above everything else when there’s still something in your life that you’re not willing to give up, if there’s a certain comfort zone you’re not willing to leave. As I mentioned in a previous post, God wants us to sacrifice something that means everything to us to show Him that even then, He means more. And so of course it is going to hurt, of course it is going to be difficult. But we need to get past how we feel and acknowledge that our emotions aren’t God, God is God.

In spite of how we feel, we submit still.

Now knowing how sensitive this topic is, I don’t want to speak on it if it’s not something that can be seen in my life, if it’s not something I do my best to live out. I won’t go into details but my friends know this: personally, God has asked me to give up so many things that are so close to my heart. I had to give up people I loved so very dearly, I had to give up dreams and securities that I placed my hope in, I had to allow myself to be put in new places that I would not have chosen to be in. He has broken my heart again and again, He has asked me to lay my life down over and over. And it always hurts, so much and so deeply. But one thing I have always stood by is that He is worth every shattered piece of my heart, that He is worth it all so He can tear me apart. So you can’t tell me I don’t understand how difficult it is, because I really do. Reasons are just excuses because at the end of the day, it’s about desiring God more than anything and wanting to please Him more than anyone.

For example, when you’re asked to give up a relationship that may not be honoring God anymore, you may say that the other party will also get hurt. But think about it, who would you rather hurt, him or Him? You may say that doing a certain thing He’s asking of you is out of your comfort zone, but do you not believe that He will be the One to sustain you, that He will be there to guide you?

This life is not about you, and it’s not about others too. It’s about God. And so sometimes, you have to break your own heart or the hearts of people you care about to avoid breaking His.

I’ve also come to find that surrendering is something we have to constantly do, because today you might love a person more than God, and then tomorrow you might value what other people think about you more than what God does. But ultimately, it’s about choosing God in spite of how you feel, in spite of what you desire. It means apologizing even when you have to swallow your pride; it means speaking up even when you might be ridiculed; it means surrendering even when it feels like your heart’s about to break into a million pieces.

One thing I tend to tell people frequently is “wag mo nang lokohin sarili mo” (stop fooling yourself). Faith without action is meaningless, so is action without faith. We can’t be half-hearted about our obedience.  Don’t think that all you have to do is desire to obey and yet do nothing about it. Don’t think that you can surrender halfway, for there are no middle grounds or compromises. If Abraham just placed Isaac on the altar without actually going ahead to kill him, he would have failed God’s test. Remember, God only interfered when Abraham raised the knife. We have only truly surrendered when we can say from the heart that we are able to live without something and act upon it.

Jesus has said in Matthew 16:24 that if anyone is to follow Him, that person should deny himself and take up his cross – they both go hand in hand. Denying yourself happens in your heart and taking up your cross is done by action. Anything less than complete obedience in action and total surrender of the heart is disobedience.

“God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.”
-C.S Lewis

We have to understand that God cares less about our temporary happiness and more about our eternal joy. We have to trust His heart for us, to hold on to the fact that He is faithful. We have to respond to what He is trying to teach us, for we are being made Christlike. Yes, it may be painful and we may not completely understand what’s going on at the moment, but we have to believe that God knows what He is doing and that the reasons why He asks us to do the things we do are ultimately for good. We have to learn that loving and trusting God means unconditional obedience. 

We fight to obey. Convenient or not, no matter what.

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
-Matthew 16:25-26