“You see things going on out there and you think, ‘Well, what the hell can I do about it?’ For a lot of people there’s not much a lot you can do about it and all I believe is that everyone in their own way has a position they have to take and if that’s as a mother with snotty nosed kids or a guy in a factory just doing the best he can or being a schoolteacher or a farmer, you just find your ground, your place and you just do the best you can to shine a light on the s**t that’s out there… I’m in a band and I just hope that when it’s all over for U2 that in some way we’ve made the light a bit brighter. Maybe just tore off a corner of the darkness.”
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. “ – Exodus 14:13
For the past few days now, God is teaching me something. He really makes sure that I get it. From the book that I’m reading, to the sermon that I hear during service, to a friend’s prayer during praise and worship practice. God is clearly telling me something and He wants me to listen.
During the trying time in my life, I prayed to God for help. That time when I needed Him to deliver me from the situation I was in, God led me to this verse in Exodus. It was the exact promise that I really needed. Evidently, God was true to His promise and He made a way to get me out of that situation.
Consequently, after the solemn prayers and desperation for help, after God has done His part and answered my prayer, I started doing things on my own. Slowly I started to put things on my own hands thinking that I can make things work. I started to believe in myself and almost forgotten that it was God who has done all those things in the first place. I tried everything to make things work, in the ministry, at work, at church, thinking that I can do it. Slowly, I pushed God out of the picture. He was not a part of everything that I do.
Then life throws me again to a super-typhoon-like situation. A situation where things are not working out the way I expected them to be and they become unmanageable, beyond my capacity and capability. The funny thing about it is we begin to realize how far I have drifted away from God. That’s the time I turn back to Him, groveling, asking for deliverance and admitting that it is beyond me and I can’t do it anymore. Finally, I admit that without Him I can do nothing.
Then He reminded of the promise that I have forgotten. I really thought that I am done with this verse as my life verse. I’ve been asking for a new life verse, a new verse that God will use to minister to me. I thought I should be learning something new from God. I thought that holding on to the same promise for a long time only meant that I haven’t surpassed that situation in my life. The truth was God did give me victory over the situation. However, it was the thing that He was teaching me that I missed, big time. I should have learned something from that situation, otherwise I will continue to commit the same mistake and the story that I have stated above will happen repeatedly.
From a conversation that happened a long time ago, I remember consulting my friend Andrew how sometimes I don’t seem to hear any word from God. He told me that maybe there’s something that He is telling me to do that I am not doing. He is not giving me any word because I still have an unfinished business to settle or a task to do. That is exactly the case now. I still have a lesson to learn and He does not want me to go anywhere until I get it, really get it.
From now on, I will throw away any thinking brought by self-righteousness saying that I can make things happen, I can work things out. Only God can make things happen, and He can make it happen in my life. I should learn to anchor my boat to God and not to myself. I will borrow Lucado’s words and modify it a little. There is only one name under heaven that has the power over everything, and that name is not mine.
I’m also learning that if God teaches me something, He makes sure that I hear Him loud and clear, and he makes sure that the learning process continues until I finally get it and do it. God is truly good.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3
I read this verse during last Sunday’s worship and it never left me since. I spoke to the congregation during the service and I told them that we are all soldiers, members of God’s army.
And like soldiers who are constantly at war, we get – figuratively – wounded, scratched, handicapped, and at times defeated.
But then God is always there, ready to catch us when we fall, give us hope when we feel defeated, heal our emotional or spiritual wounds, wipe the tears from our eyes.
He promised that he will never leave us. He never said that it is going to be easy, but He promised that He will be right there, beside us, no matter what happens. He will wrap His arms around us when things are difficult, worst, or just in between. He will tell us, “My child, everything will be alright.”
Then I thought, what if somebody tells me that he is not that wounded, that he’s not really so down or hurt or anything? What if everything around him is working well (or so he thinks)? It made me think, maybe he was not doing that much fighting. Maybe he preferred to be at the back lines where he will face relatively less risks, less assaults.
Life is not easy, I guess it will never be. The only we way we can get through it is when God is right behind us.
The promise that God gives us today is the same promise that He gave Joshua thousands of years ago, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31 : 6)
Currently, I’m listening to Mercy Me’s song The Promise and I’m telling you if I had not been here in the office, I might have cried. Lol! I created this simple (very simple) video and I’m sharing this to you and I’m praying that you will be encouraged to “fight the good fight of faith”.
I also pray that this will encourage you to stay in the front rows, to look life in the face and be assrured that you (including me) have a God who loves you more than anything in this world and Who will fight with you until the end, until you achieve the victory.
James and I were talking this morning and he mentioned about a new post on his blog. The weird thing about it is that those same ideas have been bugging me for a very long time. Instead of commenting on his post, I decided to blog about it and finally get this into writing, then link the post through a comment on his. lol!
I realized the same thing when I read Yancey’s book What’s So Amazing About Grace. I learned that we may not agree with somebody’s principles or way of life but we don’t have to condemn him either (This does not apply only to Christians but to everybody). Most of the time, Christians have become more active in pickets and movements against a principle than sharing God’s word and letting other people experience God’s love and grace.
But what struck me even harder was when my best friend told me that she is hesitant in coming with me to a Christian support group because she felt uneasy everytime we go there. That she can’t really grasp what we are talking about (God’s grace, God’s love, etc.) and the more that she gets uneasy and ends up more confused.
Then it struck me (Again! Hahaha!). Sometimes we (Christians, that includes me) have this unconscious way of ostracizing non-Christians by talking about the things they can’t relate with. We talk about “relationship with God”, “God’s people”, “God’s love”, “being in constant conversation with God” whenever we are around non-Christians, thus the “holier-than-thou” attitude.
When I heard her say that, I couldn’t utter a word. I didn’t know what to say. I know I am guilty and I can’t redeem myself and the Christians in general (or maybe just those who are guilty of this too. hehe.). It was a real shocker (hahaha!). It was an eye opener for me.
Sometimes, people get disappointed with God because God’s body (that’s us) disappoints them. They don’t see compassion from God’s eyes. They don’t think God’s ears hear them. They don’t hear encouragements from God’s mouth. They don’t receive help from God’s hands. They don’t feel God’s feet walking towards/with them. Is God on a coma?
I am so glad we had that conversation. I am humbled, or maybe embarrased. I am sorry I made her feel that way.
Come to think of it, Christians are no better than ordinary people in terms of intelligence, strength, or physical appearance (among other things). The only thing that makes us different is that we know that we are imperfect and that we need help and that only God can help us.
If you are checking my Currently Reading page, you will notice that Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, has been there since… forever, I think. Haha! This day, I finished the book. Yey! This book revolutionized my life and how I view the people around me. Embarrassing as it is, it is the only book that helped me understand what grace really is, and how God has loved me, all of us, more than anything else.
It also taught me that, as God has forgiven us, we should forgive other people. Extend to them the grace that God has showed to us. In this world full of ungrace, we, Christians should be the vessels of God’s grace into this world.
There are lots of points I learned from this book that are worth noting. But I want to share to you this one point that really struck me. Suddenly, it all made sense to me.
This is what Yancey wrote…
For a long time, C. S. Lewis reports, he could never understand the hair splitting distinction between hating the person’s sin and hating the sinner. How could you hate what a man did and not hate the man?
But years later, it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life – namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.
Christians should not compromise in hating sin, says Lewis. Rather we should hate the sins in others in the same way we hate them in ourselves: being sorry the person has done such things and hoping that somehow, sometime, somewhere, that person will be healed.
In this paragraph, Yancey was talking about the saying, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” But along these thoughts, another quote came to mind, the very quote Jesus Christ spoke about…
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Suddenly, it all made sense to me. When Jesus Christ said this, He meant that we should think well of others, treat them well the way we wanted to be treated. But not only that, He also meant that we should be able to forgive and love other people, no matter how harsh, mean or threatening they have been to us, the way that we will love ourselves even if we think we are so mean or harsh ourselves. We should be able to separate the sin that the other person have done to us to the person himself, the way we move on and forget our own flaws.
Knowing the best person who has exhibited this trait of love and grace, we Christians should be able to exhibit this as well, especially to people who have been rejected by the world. Easier said than done, right? But if you will look around, you will see how this world, your own society needs grace. And you could be that person that God may use to show grace and love to other people.
Here is the story Yancey wrote at the beginning of the book. The very reason that moved me to buy this book. I hope that it will make you think and be moved as well, not to buy the book (hehe!) but, more importantly, to start living in grace and share that grace to other people, in this world of ungrace.
A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter – two years old!- to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable – I’m required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say about this woman.
At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”
I think many people do not find freedom [from their struggles] because they are not serious about living a life of purity before the Lord. I know for myself I did not have total freedom until I went before the Lord and laid down a stake saying that I would do whatever it takes to rid my struggles from my life and remain accountable to other Christian brothers. I said that He would not hear from me again concerning this matter. You know what, at that point God filled me with His grace and delivered me.
Yes, I was at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium last night, side by side with my family, together with hundreds of people who were shouting, dancing, jumping, singing, clapping and jamming crazily in praising God and lifting the name of Jesus Christ.
It was the craziest thing I have ever done. Good crazy. Haha!
I arrived there late and it was so hard being squeezed, while walking in the middle of jumping young people, to get to our seat halfway around the stadium from the General Admissions entrance. But I forgot everything about it, how far we walked around the stadium, how I got to sqeeze among people to be able to pass through, when they sang “Till I See You”. Walking has never been so enjoyable and fulfilling. I was at the right place.
We sang, I mean shouted, praised and jumped to Hillsong United’s famous songs such as “Take It All”, “King of Majesty”, “From The Inside Out”,”Salvation Is Here” among others, that left us praying in awe and shouting praises. Chrishan Jeyaratnam, a youth pastor of Hillsong Church, spoke about doing what God has told us to do. No matter where we areor what we do, if God tells us something, we should do it.
All along I didn’t see what their main purpose is, why Hillsong United has been diligently creating these songs, wholeheartedly singing for the current generation around the world and some of their songs you can put as quite “crazy”. Haha! But as I stood there last night, singing and praising, just like everybody else, it just struck me what they are really trying to tell these people. Intimate relationship with God. I didn’t realize it before but it was the same thing I was struggling with, the very thing I need.
Going home at 1:00 in the morning, I wished I was able to take pictures or anything that will make me remember how wonderful this concert was. But, thinking about it, that night wasn’t about Hillsong United, it was not about Joel Houston or the other members of the band and their great God-given talents. That night was about God, and how He blazed the fire in every heart that was there. How he blessed every person, refreshed their spirits, and gave them hope that no matter what happens in the future, God is with us and whatever struggle we face when we get out of that place, Christ has been victorious over it and we can claim the same victory through Him.
I don’t need something to remember that night. I just pray that the fire in my heart will keep on burning as I do what it is He tells me to do. This time, not just listen and understand it, but actually DO IT.
Video courtesy of roquejo. My apologies.