Category Archives: The Christian Life

Another Reason to Rejoice

With the recent catastrophes (earthquake & typhoon) our country has experienced, we Filipinos, especially those in the Visayas, need an inspiration. And what inspiration could be sweetest to us than the victory of Manny Pacquiao.

On Sunday morning, once again the world stopped turning. Everything was on a standstill. Everyone’s eyes were glued on the screen, feeling every moment of the fight, and praying that our fighting congressman would win. And win he did.

To me, it is not only Pacquiao’s victory that is inspiring, but his life as well. A known womanizer & gambler prior to his conversion, Pacquiao now shows a life that is changed. His humility is astounding. He faith is such that his confidence is in the Lord.  He believes that his defeats were part of God’s plan, and his victories are not because of his strength, but God’s.

Springing back from his back to back losses against Bradley & Marquez, our ravaged nation now sees him as a symbol of courage, faith, hope and determination to overcome obstacles by God’s grace. At the same time, it showed everyone that God is indeed faithful, and really honors those who honor Him. We just have to put our trust in Him.

Thank you, Manny Pacquiao, for showing us what faith is; that it is not about winning, but about trusting the hand of God despite struggles & pain, and when things do not go our way. And in your victories and even in defeats, you never fail to give God the glory.

The Lord has given us another reason to rejoice.

Manny Pacquiao

Manny dominates Rios with speed and strategy
Photo: AP

bangon

A Taclobanon cheering for Pacquiao with a sign:
“That was just Yolanda. We’re for Pacquiao. God bless Tacloban. We will rise.”
Photo: Bulilit Marquez, AP

victory

The jubilant Taclobanons after the announcement of Pacquiao’s victory.
Photo: Bulilit Marquez, AP

ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE

The following is an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. This is also my first exegetical paper, and the final requirement for my hermeneutics class. 

Read here.

Journeying with The God Who Is (A Reflection on Exodus)

Life is a journey, as the cliché goes. And in this journey, we are constantly faced with struggles, sins, and even defeat.  All these can lead one to ask the questions, “What kind of God do we worship? Is He even trustworthy? Will He carry me  through?”  The book of Exodus paints a wonderful picture of who this God is. From the Israelite’s captivity, to liberation, to the wilderness experience, to the Promised Land, we get to know this God.

God introduced Himself to Moses with the name I AM WHO I AM in Exodus 3. The name alone says a lot about His character. I AM implies that He exists and is unchanging. It is folly to think that God doesn’t exist when everything around speaks of His presence. He is ever present. But what if He changes His character, or even His mind? Then He cannot be trusted. But He is not a God who is arbitrary and capricious. He is One who stays true to His promise. In Exodus, He had always been with the Israelites, watching over them, and eventually fulfilling the promise that He gave to their forefathers.

Clearly, our God is a compassionate God who is actively involved in the affairs of His people. Exodus shows us how He was moved when He heard the cries of His people. He was their Savior for he came down to rescue His people. It is a remarkable fact that God Himself led the Israelites out of Egypt, then eventually to the Promised Land.

In the midst of Israel’s journey, God was their Provider. He provided them with food, shelter from the heat of the sun by day, and a source of light and heat by night. He gave them protection even during their escape from Egypt.

It is already a staggering fact that this Sovereign God who rules the world came down to save His people.  But more overwhelming was the fact that His presence went with them, and settled among them.

The Exodus story is a mirror of our own journey in life. We were once slaves to sin, but God heard our cries and was moved with compassion. Then He came down to rescue us. We all have our wilderness. It is where the Lord shapes us and conforms us to His. But in our journey, His provides and protects us, and His presence stays with us until we get to the Promised Land.

What then could be the cause of fear for us? Nothing! We can all sleep soundly at night knowing that the God who rules the universe is with us all the way. And no matter what happens, He will never leave us as he carries us through until the end of our journey.

Prayer for the New Year

May this new year prayer be ours as well.

 

New Year

O Lord,
Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed in Thy presence,
in Thy service, to Thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,
but may rely on Thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love,
advance Thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to Thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.
May Thy fear by my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy.

                                                                           ~ The Valley of Vision

Year End Prayer (Valley of Vision)

Goodbye to you, 2011.  Though you may not have been all roses to me, I praise the Lord incessantly for His grace and faithfulness the whole year round.

O Love beyond compare,
Thou art good when Thou givest,
when Thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With Thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that Thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If Thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
Thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see Thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify Thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for Thy use.

~The Valley of Vision

ALL GLORY TO MY GOD & KING!

Radical and Desperate for God?

Radical and Desperate for God is the slogan of our youth group, and in this post, I am directly addressing the youth whom I serve. In my experience as a high school teacher and youth adviser, I know so many young people who either say they desire, or even claim to be both radical and desperate for God. However, I really wonder if they know the implications of these words.

RADICAL!

I often hear the word “radical” used as an appendage to the words Christian and Christianity, and the youth are the ones who often use it. “I’m a radical Christian,” they often say. You also hear it in songs, and see it on t-shirts. But is being radical just that?

There is no intention here to generalize but a lot of those who boldly make this claim have things in common. They are usually the cool teenagers who listen to contemporary Christian rock music, play rock worship songs at their youth services, wear hip clothes (mostly girls) that make them look like they just got out of Seventeen magazine, and so on (I think you get the picture). Now, do these things make you radical? No, and a million times NO!

I searched for the dictionary meaning of radical. I discovered how pregnant the word is and found these two definitions among others:

  • Departing markedly from the usual or customary; extreme
  • Favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions 1

These had me thinking. What is the norm today that a Christian needs to depart from, and at the same time, what are the current practices and conditions that should be changed? Obviously, the ways of the world is the norm, and this where we need to effect change through the gospel. However, the misconception of some regarding radical Christianity seems to mean being a friend of the world, while at the same time being a friend of God. This results to a marriage between the world and Christianity. So the Christian youth now acts like, talks like, and thinks like the world while maintaining his Christian status. But looking and sounding like the world do not make you a radical Christian. Often times, these things are dangerous banes for they only feed the desires of the fallen nature.

But what really is a radical Christian? I believe that the following should be the mark of radical Christianity:

God in His rightful place: Above all

There are a lot of things that distract us and drive us away from the Lord. They could be relationships, work, music, movies, books, internet, and others. These things often steal the time that should be spent with God. They rank first and God is pushed in second, third, or even last place. That is idolatry. A radical Christian puts God above all and all other things are rubbish. (Deut. 6:5; Phil. 3:8)

Prayer

The Christian with a weak prayer life is like a patient in the ICU. Prayer is our lifeline. The radical Christian prays in any place, and at any time. (Phil. 4:6; 1 Thes. 5:17)

Word

The radical Christian loves the Word of God. He hungers for, meditates upon and never ceases to study it. His delight is in knowing the one true God of the Bible. (Psalm 119)

Obedience

To obey is better than sacrifice and the radical Christian obeys wholeheartedly. He does so not out of duty, but out of love for the Savior. (John 14:15; John 15:10; 2 John 1:6)

Christ-likeness

The radical Christian has nothing to do with the world anymore. He no longer follows its pattern, but is rather transformed by the renewal of his mind. By grace he strives to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord, and it is evident in different areas of his life: his thoughts, actions, and speech. (Romans 12:1; Col. 3:1-11; Psalm 17:15)

Gospel

The radical Christian has a genuine passion for the gospel. Despite the insults and persecutions that will undoubtedly be experienced, he never falters, but rather continues to tell people about the goodness of God and the salvation He brings. The radical Christian desires to effect change by the sharing of the gospel. (Romans 1:16)

Paul Washer once said that radical Christianity is real Christianity, and I concur.

DESPERATE!

There seems to be two kinds of desperation. One is the desperation that sees no hope, while the other pursues and clings to hope, as a drowning man clings to a lifesaver. The radical Christian is desperate for God. He clings to God because he knows that apart from Him, he can do nothing; he is nothing!

The book of Psalm shows the desperate cries of the psalmist. Psalm 42 paints a beautiful picture of a deer that is probably dying of thirst, desperate to find a flowing stream. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” Yet again in Psalm 63 he says, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” In his affliction, David cries, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm13:1) It is as if to say, “Where are you, Lord? Not another minute without You, please, I would surely die!”

In John 15, Jesus used the vine as a metaphor for Christian living. He is the vine and we are the branches. We are to abide, to cling to Him. The scariest thing in the world is to live outside the presence of God.

The Christian who is desperate for God continuously seeks Him because he knows He will always be found. He cries to Him because he knows he will be heard. He wholly depends on Him because He is faithful. He lives for Him because He is life.

Now we must ask ourselves this question: Am I really radical and desperate for God?

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20


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1 http://www.thefreedictionary.com/radical