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Reaching Out to the Lost

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When I was in High School, a Junior and Senior student to be precise, I was so active inviting my classmates for our youth services at church. I guess most of my classmates would remember me as that girl who keeps on bugging them every week to go to the youth service. It was one of the happiest moments of my life – seeing my classmates and batch mates (plus a few students from the lower batch) sing praises to God and humble themselves in His majestic presence was priceless. I cherished two of my classmates’ words one night after the service, “Naiyak talaga ako habang kumakanta. Ganun pala ako kamahal ni God.” (I cried while singing Him praises. I didn’t know that He loves me that much.) and “Dito na tayo mag-reunion sa College!” (Let us meet here for a reunion in College!)

But since I went to College, things changed. I stopped inviting my classmates to youth services (partly because I couldn’t attend the youth services near our school, so why should I invite if I myself couldn’t go there). I can give a lot of reasons why I really cannot attend services that time, but I was so busy I lost track of my walk with God. I became so distant. I didn’t notice I was already trapped within a deep chasm where, I think, God couldn’t hear me. It was the saddest and loneliest season of my life – living without depending on Him. I realized how hard it was to live without Him when He has become a part of your lifestyle.

Despite of all the dreadful things that happened to me, God is still gracious. He brought me back on track. He gave me opportunities to reach out to the lost. But I felt like I should not (not that I should NOT reach out to the lost people at all, but I have not been reaching out, really). I did not go back to inviting my classmates to youth services. Instead, what He let me see recently is this: there may be a lot of lost people out there that we need to reach out to, but we also have to take care of the flock that needs to stay on track with their walk with God. I heard testimonies about how they struggled to keep their faith and to keep their fire burning within them. I saw how they went so cold in their relationship with God. I heard their plight and agony with themselves and especially with God. It was a sad scene to see. I was so sad hearing these stories.

We may be busy reaching out to the lost, but are we also encouraging our co-believers with love? Do we give enough attention to the believers who are struggling with sin? Where is the grace that God poured out to His people when the same grace and forgiveness He has lavished upon us cannot be seen within and through us? An argument can be raised here, saying, “But it will be up to that person or believer to help himself/herself. I did my part. I encouraged him/her, but he/she is still like that.” The question is that have you persevered until you can’t bear it any longer? Have you endured walking with them through thorns and nails, through the pain they are carrying, through the burden they bring on their shoulders every day? How long were you there when you said that you will be there for them?

Going back to the basic, discipleship is relationship (not my original idea). How is your relationship with the lost people you once fished? With the people God entrusted you with? Once a leader in the congregation, I feel bad and guilty about this. But I am really amazed with what God has impressed to me. It’s not that I will totally stop reaching out to the lost. I must bear in mind that I should also remember the believers who are in dire need of help in their relationship with God. But as I help the believers, I should see to it that I must be the head, and not the tail that shall slip any time as I help them get back up.

Galatians 6:1 & 9 (ESV)
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted… And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

*The picture used in this post is not mine. Credits belong to the owner.

I Made a Mistake

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A couple of years ago, I had a serious problem with my faith. I struggled about my beliefs towards God, thinking if He is really true. I thought, “Maybe He’s not true. Maybe we people made an imaginary perfect being just to cover our own imperfections. Maybe God is not really true, just someone or something existing within the minds of imperfect moral beings.” I came to the point of not attending church anymore because every service means nothing to me. I closed my heart and ears towards what God’s messages through the preaching of the pastor and through worship. Attending church means being with my family and friends ONLY. Attending church became an obligation to me.

Until I met my first leader in church again. It was a coincidence in a way because she rarely goes there. She attends to a different church (branch). I told her about what I was thinking. I told her about my beliefs. She told me that she also struggled about God’s existence. But it was God who led her out of her own doubts about Him. I forgot the revelation she got from God that made her believe again. It just took a bold step to have faith in Him again that took her back, at least that’s what I remembered.

When I doubt His existence, I always remember this quote (which I guess is from Philip Yancey or John Piper, my two favorite authors in theology), “…It is like being grateful with no one to thank.” It is true. Living without God is like being grateful with no one to thank. You can’t thank the flowers for suddenly popping out of the field. You can’t thank the mountains for being there. Or you can’t thank the giants who could have probably formed those mountains. Everything is not as they are without putting God into the context, without putting God into the center of the world. It just seems too wrong without God in it.

After doubting the existence of God, it was not long when I started thinking ill of our church. I thought randomly that time. While the people were praising God with all of their hearts, raising both of their hands high, I usually thought, “LORD, you see the hands of these people. They cry out to you and then turn their backs to you. They just need you for their happiness and satisfaction. They just praise you when they’re okay. They just praise you when they’re in church. But when they’re out in the real world, they are very very different people.” Honestly, I didn’t know those people I was talking about, They were all strangers to me, and I spoke and thought ill of them. I thought ill of the church, the imperfectly perfect church. I defined it as imperfectly perfect because the church is composed of imperfect people, but bonded together by a perfect God, the body of Christ. Going back, I opened this up to a concerned sister from the church. She told me that she also had thoughts about the church as “hypocrites.” But we both concluded, “Aren’t we the hypocrites when we judge others as such?”

Judging others won’t do anything good. They attend church because they are not okay. They attend church because they acknowledge their wrongdoings before God. They are honest about who they are. They don’t cover their dirt. They surrender who they really are to God. They attend church because they are in need of a friend. They attend church because their souls are so thirsty. They read their Bibles because they want to seek who God is. It is not about their imperfections anymore. It’s about who God is in their lives. This is how it should be. We need to focus on Who God really is. The problem with humanity is our tendency to be too selfish and close-minded, looking at then judging others before looking at their own wrongdoings. Thus, God led me to reading this passage in Matthew 7:3-5 (CEV):

You can see the speck in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the log in your own eye. How can you say, ‘My friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the log in your own eye? You’re nothing but show-offs! First, take the log out of your own eye. Then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend’s eye.”

picture in this post is not mine.

Belated Happy Fathers’ Day Post

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Belated Happy Fathers’ Day Post

Something amazing and touching started happening in my life since Father’s Day last Sunday (June 15, 2014). It was the day before my dad’s birthday. Usually, his birthday would be the same day as Fathers’ Day. That’s how special my dad is. Okay, I’ll stop telling too much sweet words about my Dad. I’m not used to it anymore, but I love him so much.

We weren’t able to celebrate Fathers’ Day the way we celebrate it before, but the Ushering Ministry where my parents are a part of did the celebration by eating the food that Mom prepared for everyone. It made me feel a bit sad because I was guessing that Dad might be disappointed that his birthday or Daddy day wasn’t celebrated by the family. It made me think of what to do for him on his birthday. Oh, well. I simply bought a Knorr soup for him to cook because it reminds me a lot of my childhood with him.

That wasn’t the only thing that amazed me during those days (June 15 and 16). During the 3 P.M. Sunday service, there was this boy who sat with his mom in one chair beside me because there was only one free seat, making them share for that seat (don’t worry, I was also a bit confused about how I exaggerated the usage of the word “seat” in that sentence). I didn’t know why but I had this urge to give him my seat (and another one here). By the way, before they sat beside me, the little kid was poking my button pins on my bag (BMO and Jake the Dog pins). I had an idea, “Why not give this to the kid later after the service?” The service went on, and I gave the boy my seat for him to be able to sit well because sharing a seat with his mom may be uncomfortable. I stood up near the tech booth beside my Dad. Hearing Dad laugh at every joke that the speaker says at the stage made my heart glad; it also made him pat me at the back, and kiss my scalp.. did that sound okay? Let me rephrase it.. He kissed my head.. Top of my head. Haha.

Before the service ended, we prayed for the daddies in the church, and went on. I approached the kid and his Mom right away to hand him my BMO button pin, “Hello~ Would you like to keep this? This will be yours now.” His Mom smiled, and looked at her son, pointing at the pin I was holding. I wasn’t able to understand what she was saying to her son, then the kid accepted the pin I gave him. He was so cute~ He seemed to be so shy while he took it from my hand. When they walked past me, I almost cried. I was so happy and overjoyed. Truly, God’s overflowing grace and love can be evident in a person. That’s one testimony to prove that.

Picture not mine! :<

Picture not mine! :<

When I’m Feeling Down

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Picture not mine

Picture not mine

Yes, I also wondered why I posted this picture as a “cover picture” for this blog post of mine. I was really searching for quotes or photos of people that represent sadness or depression, but when I typed the word “down” with Google’s suggestion “feeling down”, this showed up and it made both me and my brother laugh. I love it when it happens.

Anyway, enough of Chewbacca. Time for another blooper moment. I typed “down” in Google Images search, and these were the images that appeared:

Image

Indeed, they’re down

I respect people who have down syndrome. They’re absolutely awesome. But when I’m so sad, and I was expecting for different results in Google Images, darn. I laughed a bit.

SERIOUSLY, enough of all these. I am so down, really. A lot of people who could see me personally can’t believe that I get down, that I get problems, that I have problems in managing time and that I have a hard time balancing my priorities. Why was I sad? Again, it’s because of my attitude. It feels as if I’m becoming too disrespectful to my parents. I have the guts to tell these things to you not because I’m proud of it, but because I believe that when the darkness is exposed to the light, it will vanish (Eph. 5:13). I learned it from my former leader in church.

When my parents touch me or talk to me, I become so irritated without knowing why. When they scold me when I do wrong, I complain, thinking, “That’s not even wrong! I am old enough to know what’s right and wrong.” My heart is becoming stubborn.

Have you ever felt this before? This feeling of thinking about a problem in your life; just a single problem in your life, then you’ll start over-thinking. When you started over-thinking, that problem becomes so big that you think the whole world is upon your shoulders. That’s a big problem now, and has become a burden in your heart too. That’s how I feel about myself now. But when I think about it, I battle it with a positive thought, “I’m fighting with it. I don’t have to stay down.” But you know what? I’m still down.

What I forgot was GOD. I put God out of my life. I put God out of the context. I put Him out of my mind and heart, in my soul and strength. I am not fighting WITH Him. I choose to forget about Him, and do it all on my own believing that I can. Yes, it’s said in Phil. 4:13 that “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” but am I really putting Christ as I apply it in my life? I try to change my attitude. I try to change my thinking. I try to change every negative thing in me without God’s help. I hope to practice and apply it in my life from now on. Putting God in every situation I’m in since I can’t really do this alone.

Let’s FIGHT on!

2014’s First Day

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This picture is not mine!

This picture is not mine!

January 01, 2014 and I cried half the day.

Do you know that feeling when you can’t stop crying over something, then starts thinking over a lot of things and cries over everything without you knowing? That’s what I’m feeling now. I still can’t stop crying because of a mix of emotions within me.

I became too fed up with one aspect of people: being judgmental. I know that it is wrong to judge and that you won’t be judged unless you did something for people to judge what you did or said but in the first place, “IT IS WRONG TO JUDGE“. I myself isn’t excused. I also judge. I am not exempted. I admit it. Unconsciously, I judge people too. And I also make the excuse: “Well, he/she is doing/saying something for him/her to be judged.” We don’t have the right to judge, anyway. We also make mistakes in some other way. Only He Who’s perfect has the right to judge us.

I cried everything to God in the van as my family and I went home from our relative’s house. I vented my anger towards God. Of course, I cried because I couldn’t take it anymore. My heart’s full of rage and sadness towards the people I care about when suddenly, God taught me a lesson:

“Never play with people’s emotions.”

I experienced it. It’s as if people were playing with what I really feel. We really have to be careful and think before speaking or doing something; whether it may be online or in real-life situations. I felt like you’d simply laugh over what you really feel yet deep inside, you’re screaming, “Please stop it. It’s getting too offensive.” I must admit that I take a lot of jokes very seriously. I even cry over some of those. I am aware that it’s a joke but most of the times, it gives a pang of hurt and offense in my heart.

Emotions are very dangerous. They can control you as a person. That’s why we need to have self-control to be able to control it; not overcoming us. About emotions, it’s cool that a lot of people have been opening up to me lately (5 people to be exact, and yes, they’re many for me). They’re not much of a close friend of mine but they chose to open up to me. I thank God for that. I realized that behind people’s courage, boldness, strength, happiness, joy, and laughter is a broken, sad, lonely, depressed and lost soul. I saw how people really need God in their lives.

As I cried to God, I noticed that it was my first cry over Him. Faith really helps us see the invisible (Heb. 11:1). I was comforted. I believe that He’s listening to me. I’m not crazy. Well, maybe yes because “Love makes us do crazy things”. Haha. God also taught me another thing, similar with what I typed in my post, “2013” (https://whoismaria.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/2013/):

“You need to understand people no matter what, even if they’re too annoying for you. Love is unfair. Learn “empathy”.”

God has been so patient with us. God has been so gracious towards us. He may know everything about us, from our deepest hidden sin in our hearts to our craziness but He loves us anyway. We may look very dirty as how we view ourselves but God views us differently; God views us “through a lens of mercy, love and compassion” (I forgot where I read this). And He keeps whispering, “You are loved, *insert your name here!”

Cheer up! Focus on God. Our identity is found only in Him.

P.S.: Sorry if this blog post became too random (?). It became a bit random for me because of a petty mix of ideas as I cried to God earlier.

Year-ender Post

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Living as the Lord’s Followers

“We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desire and the corrupt influences of this world.

Do your best to improve your faith. You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, self-control, patience, devotion to God, concern for others, and love.”

– 2 Peter 1:3-7 (CEV)

Happy 2014! 🙂

2013

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picture is not mine 🙂

 

December has been an epic month for me so far. Why did I describe it as “epic”? Okay.. I’d rather say amazing to sound.. Nahh. It’s still epic.

I’ve been thinking about posting in my blog about who I really am: my mess, my selfishness, all about ME. A lot of confessions about how much I’m in dire need of a Savior, how much I need God. But thinking about it, why not post it TODAY?

This year had a lot of emotional and spiritual roller coasters. It has been a chaotic roller coaster ride. I think I was already drowned by my own wrongdoings. That’s how I pictured my year. DROWNED. I became so proud of myself, thinking that I can do this alone. I believed in myself. Believing in yourself is good, except when you became too proud of yourself. It’s unhealthful.

Isn’t it hard to accept that you’re too weak? That you sin a lot? That you really need people in your life who can help you? Fear simply stops me from opening up about my problems because I’m afraid they might think that I’m such a sinful person. Yes, everyone’s sinful but sometimes, we tend to think that another person is more sinful than the other one. We’re so blind to see that all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+3:23). I mean, we already know it, but we still need to be reminded by the Holy Spirit over and over because I believe that we’re too forgetful. That’s (our) my usual sickness.

This year, I experienced a lot of DOWNS. Well maybe, I only focus on those circumstances I fell down on my knees, struggling and crying. Yes, that’s me. I usually focus on the negative side. I stopped smiling always. I stopped fooling around and started being honest. VERY HONEST. I sometimes think that being way too honest hurts too. But when I do, I become too confused about how I really feel: am I simply being honest or am I fooling myself and the people around me already? I can’t go on talking about this part of myself this year since it’s becoming too complicated. I laughed at myself. Haha.

I learned that experiencing struggles and pain in life isn’t just about the sadness and anguish you feel. It’s about how you get up back again. It’s about how the people around you supported and stayed with you through the times you were so down and when you’re in the brink of defeat (when He already won for you). I learned that struggles won’t end but I also noticed that at the end of each struggle, you’ll learn something in life and something about yourself. Great, I learned that I’m such  a wicked person.

Yes, a lot of you reading this who are close to me or know me personally might be surprised about me, saying that I’m such a wicked person. Honestly, I really am. Of course, I won’t let you see how crappy I am from the inside! You might not love me nor accept me as a person.

Isn’t it cool that most people can relate from one another’s troubles?

Anyway, sorry for a random question. This year, I learned this: “Each person has a story.” It made me relate with other people struggling. It made me think that, “Oh, yea. I’m not the only one who’s struggling. There are billions of people out there who are also problematic. It’s cool that God can manage to listen to our pleads and cries. He’s so patient.” That lesson made me realize that I am no better than you – all of you. It made me realize that everyone have their own past. I pray that God may lead me to the people who may understand me and my story.

I also learned from a close friend of mine that we must be grateful for this year. Yup, no matter what you’ve gone through. If you’re reading this and struggling with your faith in God, kudos to you, my brother! We can do this together. We can get through this mess. We may struggle for years, but remember that Someone already won the victory for us! Let it encourage us to go on through life. Don’t worry, I also came to a point wherein I was depressed for months (or maybe a year?) and asked God for answers yet no answers came. Stay faithful. Don’t let your struggles stop you from praying. If you need someone to talk to, approach those people you’re comfortable to open up with. 🙂

I thank God for this year even though most of the time, I looked at the darkest and negative sides of life. He taught me that looking and living in the darkness will only make me yearn for Him. And congratulations to me, I did yearn for Him. Haha~ I can’t say that I’m hoping for a better future because I’m becoming better as a person when I experience trials in life. It’s inevitable. All we have to do is to keep it together, have faith, and keep holding on to the One Who never leaves.

Happy 2014! 😉