Friday, October 31, 2014

The Sweetest Treat

Fall is here, in full swing. The season of colorful leaves, chilly mornings, windy evenings and sweet treats. My sons went out hunting for candy and came back home with a bounty.

I stayed behind to greet the parade of fluffy ducklings and pumpkins, pirates, witches, Star War heroes and general assortment of unrecognizable creatures that knocked at my door searching for the sugary reward.

Upon my children’s return, Grant commented that one of our neighboring families was a Christian household. I listened attentively as he related with delight that his brother and he had received the nicest treat, a Snickers candy bar along with a track. He handed the little bag to me as he pulled out the folded paper. It was, indeed, the pathway to salvation framed on candy corn and smiley pumpkins. Dylan showed me his too, and it told of the story of God’s plan from the fall to Christ, all so neatly and concise.

Both were pleased, but Grant, in particular, was visibly impressed by the gift. He had not expected anyone to greet them with the good news of Our Great God. I think he really appreciated the intentions and it helped him keep the perspective of the celebration: a candy holiday is alright once in a while, but the sweetest treat is, by far, the one that comes from above, the gift of Grace from our Lord.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

We are trying to guide our older son, Grant into a more relaxed, confident, stress-free state of mind as he is going through the typical anxiety of the pre-adolescence/adolescence age. Thought, I said “trying,” I am, in no way, implying that we may be succeeding… However, I believe we might have been able to make a bit of progress thanks to one piece of advice we have given him:

To change the way we feel, it helps to change the way we think.

The short devotional readings I do every day present this concept quite often, and today there it was again. The idea was associated with the passage of Scripture from Philippians 4: 8-9,

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 

This magnificent, Holy Spirit-inspired command that Paul gave to his friends in Philippi ages ago, still fits us perfectly in today’s world. In a society where the lines between right and wrong, and good and evil are so faint, and where the normalization of sin has become institutionalized, Christians struggle to stay true to our faith. Young people are bombarded by all things dark and carnal. Purity is laughed at and innocence is quickly becoming extinct. Parents who want to protect their children’s souls and shelter them from the filth around us are left without any resources from the secularized culture that wants to swallow us whole. What is there to do, then?

We hang on to this passage, seek out whatever is pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, worthy of praise and dwell on such things! Better yet, as parents, we are to do what Paul says here…we are to model all these, live them ourselves, become examples to those we want to influence, so they can practice these things, the things they have “learned and received and heard and seen” in us. We are not just to tell our kids to do these things. We have to do them ourselves first! We have to die to our not-so-pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, worthy of praise habits and become people who follow the light and seek the Kingdom of God!

I don’t know how good a model I am being for my sons on this one. Actually, as a matter of fact, I don’t remember ever paying attention to verse 9 on this passage before. Today, however, I realize that the responsibility of helping my children change the way they think at this stage of their lives falls primarily on their Mom and Dad…(aka me and Dan). Most likely, they will end up modeling what they see in us.

I want them to enjoy the presence of the God of peace in their lives. In order to achieve it, they need to shape their thought lives…and I have a hand on helping them do that. But to accomplish such a goal, I need to shape myself after someone…someone who can model the above pattern to perfection. So I choose to model myself after my Savior.

I pray I can measure up to the task of guiding my children into a path of a transformed thought-life. I know for sure I can’t do it on my own. I need the strength and wisdom that comes from My Lord so I can learn how to change the way I think and the things I think about to be in tune with what I see in Him, and in turn, become a good role-model.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bold Surrender

As I work my way through the book A Praying Life by Paul Miller with a group of young, faithful women, I was once again struck by how clearly the author presents deep truths about prayer. For instance, one of the women in the Bible study commented that she was very moved by the concept of how prayer consists of a balancing act between “asking boldly” and “surrendering completely.” (p. 132)

I cannot agree more with my young friend. I believe achieving such balance is the key to prayer.

Jesus, Himself, illustrates this truth in His prayer at the Garden before He was taken by the guards to be led unto His final days walking on this earth. In the midst of His agony, He called on His Beloved Dad…

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 
 Mark 14: 36

The essence of prayer is contained within this profoundly simple statement. Jesus asked boldly…even though He knew it would not be granted…for His Father, His Daddy, to take away the bitterly cruel cup he was about to partake. He didn’t doubt His Father’s power to remove such burden from His shoulders. Jesus perfectly and firmly knew, trusted, believed God’s ability to just say the word and make the whole thing stop…but He also knew the plan…and the plan involved His Holy and Perfect sacrifice. Even though, His humanity was revealed on the feelings He experienced on that fateful night and in His bold prayer, Jesus’ complete trust on the wisdom and righteousness of God’s divine plan was demonstrated in His surrender…”yet not what I will, but what you will…”


This morning, after a restless night sleep, tossing and turning, troubled by concerns regarding my older son, Grant, I remembered all these we discussed at our Bible study meeting…and it hit me…

…when I pray for my most desperate needs, I may pray boldly…but I lack surrender…

This has been the story of my prayer life. I am not afraid to pray for the supernatural to happen. I do not doubt My Heavenly Father’s power to make all things possible. I believe Jesus when He says, ask anything in my name and it will be given to you. (John 14: 13) But I struggle surrendering to His ultimate, final and perfect will. I want the prayers to be answered my way. I want the answer to be what I requested in the way and timing that I petitioned. I don’t really want my answers to be conformed to God’s will, because I am afraid God’s will, may not be my will.

This morning, as I worried sick about Grant, God called me on it. He made me realize my lack of surrender. He pointed out how I want to solve all the issues on my own. He showed me how I want to engineer the outcomes of my son’s issues by my own power and wisdom (both of which are extremely limited at best). And I was convicted.

Immediately, I said to my Lord, “Grant belongs to You. You love Him. And You will take care of Him. No matter what I think, Your will is perfect, and I ask You to teach me how to accept it. I ask You to teach me how to be the Mother that my sons need me to be. I ask You to teach me how to do my part, and my part alone. And I ask You to teach me how and when to let go.”

I know that I may fret again…but I also know that He will remind me, again, and again, to surrender my concerns to Him in my prayer so I don’t panic if the answers are not what I had wished for.

I want to boldly surrender to God’s plan for me and to trust His Love, His Nature, His Mercy and His infinite wisdom as He leads my loved ones and I into His presence and into the “story God has placed us in.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tears of Joy

“I want to cry…” my son Dylan said to me last night after we announced to our boys that, for the first time ever in our little family, we were going to have a dog.

Both boys have been asking for a dog during the last few years. Dylan, however, has been the most persistent. Every picture he drew of our family lately has had a dog in it. He has been thinking of names for a dog. He has been dreaming of a dog. Needless to say, when we told them last night, he was beside himself.

Even though it was such a roller coaster of emotions, it was beautiful to see him. First he looked at us in disbelief. Then, he gasped. Finally, he did a noiseless scream. Quickly after I showed him the picture of our future-newest-member of the family, he grabbed paper and crayons and began to draw him. That’s when he started to get weepy and came to me all confused…wondering why he wanted to cry…that’s when I realized that my son had just found out it is possible to shed tears of joy.

It is not often that we are so overwhelmed by happiness that we cry. But it does happen. And for that, I praise the Lord! He allows us to experience, on this shore of eternity, not only the valleys of tears, but also the peaks of joy. Once in a while, mountain-top-moments come to us as a precious gift to remind us of the great love and mercy of God…to remind us that He cares…to remind us that there isn’t a pain so great that He cannot make go away…to remind us that He knows us and that He is there.

He leads us through every path, and He takes care of us. He wants to give us great things. He wants to lavish us with his inexpressible love. If we, who are bad, can give good things to our children…what more would we receive from our Heavenly Father, right? (Matthew 7: 11) Praise the Lord, O my soul!

I know that there will be moments in our near future when our new 4-legged-friend is going to disappoint Dylan and perhaps, even annoy him. But I’m also sure that he will savor the feeling of ecstatic delight he is enjoying right now, for a long time. It will probably live in his memory until he is a grown man. He will probably recall it when as a father himself; he gives his children their first dog. For now, I am the one savoring his happiness, and in turn, enjoying my own...

Tears of joy will stream down their faces,

and I will lead them home with great care. Jeremiah 31: 9

Am I Good Enough?

“I’m not a Christian…” said our son Dylan in between sleepy sobs. “Why would you say that?” Dan and I asked worried. “Well…” Dylan replied, rubbing his teary eyes, “I am a bad boy…I don’t know how to be good, and you have to be good to be a Christian.”

Dan and I looked at each other and sighed.

Isn’t that one of the biggest lies the enemy tries to deceive us with? Isn’t that one of the biggest misrepresentations of how Christianity works?

Actually, there are two equally confusing patterns of false logic at play here. One version says: “I’m not good enough. I’ll never be good enough. Therefore, I could never be a Christian.” The other version suggests sort of the same misguided logic, but in reverse: “I’m not perfect, but I am better than most people I know. I am a decent and pretty good person. I’m OK!”

Both these theories have basic flaws. The first one is a fatalistic idea that denies hope by limiting God’s power. It insists that God is not able or powerful enough to change even the greatest sinner. It forgets about God’s Mercy and it doesn’t value Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins. The second one simply implies that one can work his/her way into eternity by his/her own means and good deeds. Plainly stated, we’re OK, and we don’t need a Savior.

The truth is,

As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” Romans 3: 10-12

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1: 15

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6: 23

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2: 8-10

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3: 16

That night, we tucked Dylan in after we talked to him as plainly as we could about how we are all sinners, and there is no one good…and that’s why we need a Savior. We reminded him that Jesus loves him and that if he believes that Christ died for him to forgive his sins and save his soul, he is a Christian. “I believe,” Dylan said with a more calmed expression in his face. We said a prayer, kissed him good night and walked out of his room hoping his little heart is really ready to open up to Christ coming in to dwell in him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dylan's Birthday!

My younger son, Dylan, candidly told us yesterday that one of his biggest fears is to be “taken away.”

I looked at him and assured him that nobody was going to take him away from us. He smiled and went back to what he was doing, seemingly satisfied with my reply…sigh…

Later I thought, aren’t we all, in a way, afraid of being “taken away”? Isn’t that a fear that lives not only in the young mind of a nine-year-old boy, but in the minds and hearts of most people? 

Personally, I am certainly afraid of being taken away, which could also be interpreted as being pulled apart from those I love. For example, I don’t want to be separated from my family. At least, not prematurely…I want to enjoy being with them for as long as possible. I want to enjoy the warmth of their presence. I want to be cheered by the sound of their laughter. I want to be tickled by the funny stories they come up with. I want to feel safe in their company. I don’t want to experience their loss. And I don’t want to be taken away from them either.

As much as I reassured Dylan, however, I cannot control the future. I cannot be 100% certain that we are not going to be pulled apart at some point in our lives. How does a soul find rest in such uncertainty? How do we remain calm in the face of one’s deepest fear?

You got it!

We find rest in Him. We cling to the Only One who is always there. We grab hold of the Only One who would not be taken away from us and the Only One who would never let go of us. Even when everyone else abandons us…even when everyone else is gone…even when we have been pulled apart from those we love…even when the world becomes the loneliest place…even when we feel as if there is no one left…we must remember, our hearts are deceiving, our emotions blind us, our feelings betray us, for He is always here. He tells us in His own words:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31: 6

Today is Dylan’s birthday. He has been counting the days since the beginning of the month. He is thrilled that his special day is finally here. As we surround him with all the love we can provide, and we hold him tightly in our arms, I pray that he would know not to rely on us for permanence and constancy. I pray that the Holy Spirit teaches him that there is Only One who is ever trustworthy and eternal, and that His trust must rely on Him and Him alone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

During the last few years my husband and I have been through several difficult issues from which much anxiety and fear have stemmed. Today, for example, is the first anniversary of my second thyroid cancer surgery. Needless to say, my hands become sweaty just typing about it. It was today, however, that I heard on one of the Christian stations a very wise gentleman (I can’t remember his name, sorry) talking about the root causes of fear and anxiety.


What a “coincidence,” huh?

Of course not. The Lord provides exactly what we need at the exact time.

In this radio program, the guest speaker said that, generally, more often than not, the main cause for fear and anxiety is the fact that we concentrate too much on the future and forget to praise God for the blessings of the present.

The more I thought about, the more I realized the truth in that statement. Right next to lack of trust in the Lord’s promises and love for me, stands the fact that I concentrate way too much on the “what ifs.” As soon as a situation comes up which may, in some way, present the remote possibility of a threat to my future and the way I have designed it…fear and anxiety pop in.

I fear the future because I don’t know what the future holds…and I don’t like not knowing where I’m going. The truth I often forget is, however, that, even though I may not know what the future holds, I do know who holds the future. I also forget that I do know where I am going. In the end, this is not my home. And I am glad! My true home is a place of no tears and no darkness. My true home is a refreshing dwelling where there are no more illnesses, loss or fears. And even before I get there, I know that my Lord delivers me from what entangles me while I’m still here on this world.

Jesus wants us to focus on Him right now. He knows that is the only way our human hearts can find some rest. He knows all too well that for us it is impossible to look at the future and not fret…therefore…He commands us to

“…do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6: 34 ESV

May Our Lord, Jesus the Christ extend to us His comforting presence today, so we may praise Him and not be anxious about what will come.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Remind Me Who I am

Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24

Reading these verses in church yesterday caused me to pause for a minute. Really, it was the phrase “anxious thoughts” what caught my eye. The Lord knows all too well how anxious thoughts wreak havoc in my mind more often that I can say. That’s when it hit me. Since God, obviously knows me better than I or anyone else knows me…since He created my “inmost being”…since He knows my every thought and my every word completely even before they form…the searching that He does in me is, perhaps, not for His own benefit, but...for me.

He doesn’t need to search me to figure out who I am. He already knows it! He searches me so I can know me.

I am the one who needs to know herself.

Therefore, I pray the Lord will search me so I may know my own heart and know how deceitful it could be. I pray that He will search me and show me how I should not trust the inclinations of my feelings and emotions. I pray that He will test me so I may clearly see that my anxious thoughts are nothing more than that…thoughts…they are not real. They are a fabrication of my unsettled mind and of my untrusting heart. I pray that He will show me if there is any offensive way in me so the Holy Spirit may lead me out of it and into the way that will take me to life everlasting.

Search me, test me and let me see who I am and who I can become in You.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Intentional and Patient

As I was, once again, fretting about test results yesterday, the Lord gently pushed me toward the Psalms and in its pages He gave me a place to rest and be calmed. As His will determined it, I picked up my reading at Psalm 27. The entire Psalm is pretty amazing, but today, I want to bring up verses 13 and 14:

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord 
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord:
Be strong and take heart
And wait for the Lord.

Reading these verses felt like waking up. As I struggled with the anguish of the unknown, wrestled with my own soul to allow His peace to cover me while I combatted the enemy’s fiery arrows of deceit, these words, His words, The Word, came to my rescue, putting things into perspective.

Like we always say, God IS Good, and He is good ALL the time, for He cannot be anything else, but Good! Sometimes, however, we tend to think that His goodness and/or the fruits of it won’t come to us until after we cross to the other shore and enter into Heaven. However, is that placing a limitation on God’s power? By thinking that way, are we not implying that God’s jurisdiction does not include this world? Are we forgetting that He reigns over ALL!?

I guess, sometimes, I do forget. I know I do limit Him. I’m guilty of doubt and shaky faith.

That’s why He, in His infinite love for me, and for all His children, kindly reminds me and all of us that His goodness knows no boundaries. The power of His hands extends limitlessly, and His will is done in Heaven AND in earth.

The goodness of the Lord IS in the land of the living, among the pestilence, the wars, the death, the illness, the heartache and all the loss, He is King, His light bursts through, His love endures.

Appreciating His goodness in the midst of this world’s tragedies and darkness, however, is not easy. We need to exercise some discipline. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to make us intentional and patient.

Intentional: we need to be intentional to be confident. When we are intentional about getting to know God and His nature, we gain all the confidence we need to look beyond what things may seem, and see with the eyes of faith. When we are intentional about being confident we discover the beauty out of the ashes (Isaiah 61: 3). This way, we realize how that gorgeous sunset was created just for us, that out-of-this-world flower was designed just for our enjoyment, that soaring bird was put here to bring us hope, and the laughter of our kids within our hearing range was intended to bring joy to our hearts.

Patient: we need to be patient so we can take heart and wait for the Lord to show Himself in every situation that we go through. Patience helps us wait for Him to work out the good in all circumstances in His own time (Romans 8: 28). Patience develops our character and brings up the hope that never disappoints (Romans 5: 4-5).

It is therefore, doable if we are willing to allow Him to “teach us His way and lead us in a straight path.” (Psalm 27: 11)

May the Holy Spirit let us find rest in His hiding place, where all our fears disappear. Peace is possible; peace is real…even while we’re still here, in the land of the living.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why do I expect this life to be perfect? Why do I do I want this life to be a smooth ride? Why do I want the weather to always be nice?

I was finally able to watch the movie God’s Not Dead just a couple of days ago. I have to say, I enjoyed it very much and in many levels. I like the Newsboys, so of course that was a big draw to see it. But beyond that, I found out that I identify with the several layers of the film. For starters, I am a college professor who struggles with being open about my faith around my colleagues. I am in touch with college students who have been harassed and ridiculed for their faith. But I am also a person who is trying to find the wisdom that comes once we fully experience God’s peace regardless of the circumstances. And it was at this level where the movie, unexpectedly, touched me the most.

My favorite scene is when one of the biggest you-know-what in the movie, probably the meanest and most heartless character of all, sits in the quiet living room behind his dementia-ridden, elderly Mother and in the most despicable manner, he ponders how it is possible that she, being the “nicest person” he knows could be in such a diminished state, while he, “the meanest person” he knows, enjoys a perfect life…


In a moment of clarity, the Mother gives him a profound explanation in reply to his inquiry.

I can’t quote the full message verbatim, but what I got from her words was this,

Sometimes, the Devil tricks us with a smooth and trouble-free life to deceive us into believing that we don’t need God. Our sin is like a jail cell, except that it is all nice and comfy…the door is wide open, but we don’t see the need to leave…however, one day, the door slams shut, and it is too late to escape.


What else can I say? What could I possibly add? Let’s Scripture speak to us and remind us that trials are nothing but a manifestation of God’s unique and refining kind of love for His children. Therefore, let’s consider it all “pure joy.” After all, it is only for a “little while.”

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5: 2b-5

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1: 6-7

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 2-4

I pray that the next time we are going through trials and suffering, we remember these words of truth. I also pray that we remember that this world is not our home. We are not in heaven; therefore, life on this shore of eternity is not perfect…if it were…why would we long to go to Him?

Monday, October 6, 2014

The God Who Sees Us

"Sometimes you just have to bow your head, say a prayer and weather the storm."

A few days ago, I shared a picture with my Facebook friends that had this caption. I still go back to look at it once in a while. It is a little, tiny bird, with its head tucked in, getting pounded by a heavy rain. He looks so helpless…so small. The rain seems so strong…so hard. It sure looks as if the small creature is just about to get blown away in the storm.

The reason I like that picture so much is because, oftentimes, I am that bird.

I think, at one point or another, we all are that bird. There are some storms we just have to endure. There are some waves we cannot skip. There are some down pours that we are caught in without an umbrella.

We can barely stand in the middle of one of those storms of life…we feel like we may lose our footing at any minute. We can’t see the end. All we can see through our half-open eyes is the endless raging of the horizontal rain, sleet and hail, pounding us straight on the face. We have no shield. We feel every hit. There is no shelter. There is no hope.

What to do?

Bow our head, pray and weather it as we hold on to His promises.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28: 7

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18: 2

He is the Rock on which I stand…the Rock that doesn’t move. He is the Fortress that gives me shelter. He is the Shield that protects me. It may seem and feel as if we are completely alone in the storm, but He is right there beside us. However, the fact that He is with us, doesn’t mean that sometimes we just have to bear the storm. The fact that He is there doesn’t mean the storm goes away. There is a purpose in it. There is good that will come out of it. There is a bigger blessing waiting for us once it is done.

It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.

It isn’t enjoyable, but in the end we rejoice.

It is weakening, but from it we gain strength.

It is lonely, but it brings us closer to our Lord.

It is nerve-racking, but afterwards we find peace.

When I look at the picture of the hopeless little bird; however, I also think of another picture. I remember a picture Dan took a few years ago of a nest we discovered in one of the bushes in front of our old house. That nest was amazing. There were a couple of tiny eggs in it. We kept watching it, until one day, the eggs hatched and the birds were born. It was just incredible to see these fragile creatures just sitting there, totally dependent. Unable to do anything for themselves…protected only by the scattered leaves of that old bush. As the days went by, their bodies became covered with feathers so they began to look more like birds and less like aliens from another planet. That’s when Dan took the picture. A few days later, the nest was empty. The tiny, helpless birds had spread their wings and flown away…

What had seemed unconceivable to us had happened…the apparently helpless creatures had survived and had even thrived in their little nest. Under the watchful eye of the Most High who created them, the seemingly insignificant birds had made it…

How Remarkable…How Indescribable…How Indecipherable is Our God.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Matthew 10: 29

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Voice of Truth

Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." John 18:37 

One of my all-time-favorite Christian songs is Casting Crown’s “The Voice of Truth.” This contemporary hymn, as I like to call it, invites us to discern the truth. It is an exposition of how hard it is to listen to THE Voice of Truth because we are bombarded with many other voices that call out our name in deception. We hear many “voices” that try to make us turn this way or another. These voices try to convince us, entice us, brain wash us, seduce us. 

These voices try to lead us through different paths. These voices speak to us all day long. “Buy this thing, you need it!” “Watch this show, you’ve had a rough day and you deserve to take a mindless break.” “It’s OK, go right ahead and eat or drink or smoke or indulge all you want, that’s how you unwind.” “It’s not a big deal, everyone is doing it.” “Hey, times are different now, it’s the 21st Century!” “C’mon, you don’t expect that today’s believers are going to do that? That was written for the first Christians 2000 years ago. It doesn’t apply to us now.” “As long as you are a good person and don’t harm anybody, you are walking on the narrow path.” “Let’s just get along, why create waves.” “Let’s just say nothing. It’s better to just keep quiet about it. After all, it doesn’t affect us here.” “Don’t be so judgmental. Live and let live.” “There are many paths to God.” “Jesus is find for me, but not for everyone.”

These voices create much confusion in our soul. Decisions that otherwise would seem like “no-brainers,” become undecipherable. We ponder in puzzlement how to navigate the troubled waters of today’s society as we make a super human effort to discern the right path. Our work is complicated by the patterns of this world. What to do, then?

Like the song says,

“Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”

The first thing is to recognize that there are such voices calling out our names out there. We cannot be blinded to this fact. The enemy uses the circumstances of this day in age to saturate us with his voices of deceit. Like 1 Timothy 4:1 states: 

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Therefore, we must be aware of the schemes of the enemy. 

Believers are the people of God. We are blessed, chosen and adopted into the family of the Most High for His glory.(Ephesians 1:3-10) We are sealed by the Holy Spirit, therefore, the devil can’t grab us; but he sure tries.

One of his favorite and most effective tools is to shoot lies at us, like fiery darts. He sends agents of deceit into our lives charged with soft-words that have a melodious cadence. Oftentimes, such messengers are extremely hard to resist and unmask since they are clothed in manipulated Scripture. Lies mixed in with half-truths come out of their mouths to allure us into a false path that leads nowhere but to destruction.

The voices of the enemy’s agents loudly saturate our mind in such a way that we may not be able to hear the still small voice of truth.

Therefore, discernment is the key. Wisdom is the gift we ought to seek. If we feel we don’t have it, let us ask for it with fervor!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1: 5

We can’t base our decisions of eternal implications on the designs of society or on the secular wisdom of our times. On the contrary, we are not to “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) We are to renew our minds by diving into the Word so we can figure out the patterns of God and leave behind those of this world. Only this way we could discern His perfect will, the truth.

The enemy’s tool of deception seeks to seduce us into accepting his lies as the rule. He uses those around us to entice us and confuse us. He can even use believers that he has already confused as bait to reel us in. The enemy is like an expert civil engineer that designs nice looking wide gates and roads for those who seek comfort and company. The followers of The Way, The Truth and The Life, however, seek to enter through the narrow gate and follow the straight path even if in single line.

It is not easy to tune in our ears and really listen to the Voice of Truth, especially when we hear those around us repeating the same lies that they have been made to believe. We must always be on our guards. These are troubled times. There is a warfare waging in the spiritual realm which we cannot ignore. The words of Paul become our marching orders today,

  “…finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:10-12) 

 The enemy’s schemes are rendered useless against such stand, because, If God is for us, who can be against us?(Romans 8:31) Let us then hush all the other voices and truly choose to listen and believe the Truth, the Voice of Truth.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Secret of Contentment

I want to make Paul’s words mine, truly mine…so I can speak them from my heart as they flow from my soul…

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want… Philippians 4: 11b-12

Contentment is a quality that I lack. As it often happens, I used to be content… when I was a baby…I can’t remember it, but I’m sure I was. As long as I was kept warm, fed and dry, I think I must have been a pretty content child. As I grew up, however, and got exposed to the things of this world, my contentment began to wane. The more aware I became, the more I realized there were things I wanted and didn’t have; therefore, my discontent began to rise. And I’m not just talking about material things. I’m talking about all things, education, status, intellectual abilities, health, physical characteristics, personality traits, even spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit. I’ve always longed for what I don’t have and, in turn, neglected what I do.

The thing is that a society of plenty, like ours, is not conducive to contentment. There is always something more that we need to attain and/or accomplish…a bigger house, a better job, a smaller waist, thicker hair, more padded financial cushion, a better retirement fund, more friends, a larger church, more ministry, more donations, and the list goes on and on and on. It is not bad to strive for more. I’m not saying that accomplishments are not to be sought and goals are not to be reached. I’m just saying that sometimes, in my own personal life, I never seem to get to that point where I can honestly say that I’m content.

My heart fills up with anxiety in anticipation of the impending doom that comes when I don’t get what I expect.


Is it possible to reverse the trend? Is there hope for those like me who lean heavily toward discontentment?

Of course there is! Paul tells us right there, in the same paragraph

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 
 Philippians 4: 13

This is the one line truth that we, that I need to remember in every circumstance, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want…whether my kids perform the way I want them to or their scattered brain keeps their heads in the clouds, whether my husband shows me he cares or he neglects me, whether my job is enjoyable or dreadful, whether my health or the health of my loved ones is good or poor, whether my road is rough or smooth...I can get through it ALL by Him, in Him, through Him who is my strength.

All things work together for the good of those He loves (Romans 8: 28). His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12: 9). His love endures forever (Psalm 136: 1). His power is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12: 9).

May these thoughts and His Word become a powerful substance to kill the weeds of discontent every time they poke their ugly heads in the garden of our soul.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Limiting Ourselves or Him?

I participated in a wonderful women’s ministry event this past Saturday morning where I was able to enjoy delicious food and stimulating conversation. Now that I think about it, though, the word I should use to describe the conversation was challenging…even, perhaps, convicting.

The woman leading the talk was trying to help the group become focused in their Christianity. She offered us some very useful advice on how to design a more goal/mission oriented approach for our Christian walk. I really liked the first steps, where we had to think of one or maybe two goals that we want to achieve as Christians, and state them as sort of mission statements. As the process became more specific, however, my anxiety kicked in.

Perhaps it was the nature of the goal I picked what made me lose focus. I wrote that I wanted to be more of a Christian mentor to my students at work. That is a lofty goal for me, who has always been a self-professed grasshopper/in the closet Christian at my work place. Or maybe it was the fact that I just can’t deal well with details and minutia. But by the end of the exercise I was paralyzed. By the time I had to write a list of actions that I would take on a daily basis to complete or move forward toward my goal, I couldn’t make my hand write anything.


I don’t know what to make of it. But I think, if I am completely honest, my problem, once again, boils down to trust…or lack of thereof. Now that I sit down to meditate on it, I believe that I don’t trust God to help me. If I were to actually take myself seriously and adopt the goal of becoming a Christian mentor to my students, I don’t trust He will be there for me to help me. The reason I find it so challenging is because I think that I have to do it alone and by my own strength and resources.

I know it in my head that His strength is how we are able to do anything. I know it in my mind that apart from Him I cannot do anything. I know it intellectually that His power is made perfect in my weakness. But I have not accepted any of these truths in my heart. I doubt. I lack faith.

Double sigh…

What to do?

Well, for starters, I need to stop blaming others. I need to stop saying that the study or technique the leader chose for that lovely Saturday brunch event was not appropriate. Instead, I have to own my sense of inadequacy, be honest and admit the truth behind my struggle. I need to own my discomfort with the thought of doing anything outside my comfort zone and stop blaming circumstances.

Then, I need to come before God in prayer and offer Him my fears, insecurities and doubt, and ask Him to increase my faith. I need to ask Him to reveal Himself to me in a way that I may be confident on His presence and on His love.

Finally, I have to stop limiting God. He is Almighty, All-Powerful and All-Knowing. He created all. He sustains all. He speaks and galaxies appear. He can certainly take care of my needs when I risk it for the sake of His Name. I have to start asking Him for the supernatural power of His hand to be upon me so I can get off my behind, and get behind the goals that He is placing in my heart.

It is not easy and instantaneous. Trusting God is a process that takes time, but most of all, it takes time spent with Him. Trust is something that emerges as you get to know the subject of your trust intimately well. The fastest way to get to know The One We Can Trust, is by spending time with Him, reviewing His promises and seeking His face.

I don’t know if I will ever accomplish the goal that I loosely scribbled on my paper last Saturday. That may or may not be in God’s plan for me. But I do know that He will take care of all the details, meet every need, provide all things and bring in all the opportunities for me to do whatever it is that He has determined I need to do while on this shore of eternity.