Options (Testimony)

I wish there were a gentler way to write about this, but there isn’t. I had lived this kind of lifestyle, and now that I am walking with the Lord Jesus, I learned that there’s no use sugar-coating this painful reality: I had come to realize that a woman of the world who has so many opportunities and options in her hands has a high risk of following the wide road where immorality is condoned and even defended. Options coupled with the human being’s propensity to be selfish is a very potent combination that drives one into choosing and pursuing a worldly, pleasurable life that feeds one’s lusts, vanity, and pride. Or tries to alleviate one’s loneliness and emptiness. Or meaninglessness.

options

Like me before, there are accomplished career and business women today who live lives that are to be envied, when seen on the outside. They have flourishing careers and businesses; they have their own comfortable living spaces; they travel; they shop; they pamper and beautify themselves with the latest cosmetic trends. They are very independent and self-sufficient. They read self-help books instead of God’s Word. Some go to church because they believe it’s a duty (and it’s good to look at). They know how blessed they are and the least they could do is go to church at least every Sunday. If at all. They want to maintain this religiousness. It is a neat thing to complete the full life.

These are women who profess they know God but are not surrendered to Him. God is just a part of their lifestyle, One who is relegated to the background but never truly worshiped. What they really worship is the world and the things of this world (most unfortunately, they don’t even know that or wouldn’t admit it). They are in love with the world and not of the Savior of the world.

These are intelligent, smart women who know what they want and how to get it. Money and options which are available to them in abundance and their own self-centeredness will bring them their hearts’ desires. Conscience is stuffed and locked up somewhere inside where it can’t meddle with their plans. (Even their prayers are prayers to prosper their selfish motives. I still see myself kneeling inside the Catholic Church’s perpetual adoration chapel praying fervently for God to bless my sinful plans).

Again, I wish there were a milder way to write about these things, but sin is sin. I know. I had lived that life and knew other women who did the same. The Bible says that “she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (1 Tim. 5:6).

Means and the ways of the world offer a woman options to get the life she wants even if it tramples God’s commands. Welcome to the wide road!

“…for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” (Mat. 7:13)

It is both an apprenticeship to the world (not knowing any other way of life) and ignorance of the work of sin in one’s life. The Lord Jesus’ words echo from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

It is really that. They know not what they do. The world and the endless options it offers have blinded their hearts and minds. Snippets of Romans 1 squeeze themselves into mind:

They don’t glorify God.

are unthankful

vain in their imaginations

Foolish hearts are darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

reprobate

But for most, they are simply lost. Lost sheep which the Savior is still searching for.

Divorce and Annulment 

Long time ago in small towns in the provinces, life was quiet. Everyday, the mothers cooked and washed clothes and tended their families; the grandmothers taught their daughters how to be good, faithful wives, their granddaughters how to behave in public and guard their purity. Long time ago where I grew up, marriage was sacred and faithfully kept and families were loved and nurtured. Faithfulness, purity, and humility were just a few of the virtues that were steadfastly pursued and kept. Life was simple. People loved faithfully, even sacrificially. They were content. They had a fear of God.

Then life became richer, in terms of financial and material wealth, careers and businesses. A wealth of opportunities were opened, especially to women. They are no longer relegated only to tend the home, but they are now leading their own companies and calling the shots. Which is not bad at all, except that, with the success came independence and the freedom to choose what makes one happy and fulfilled, even to losing one’s soul.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36)

There is nothing wrong in wanting to be happy. But when we seek it the wrong way, that’s where the problems begin. Selfishness and a conscience hardened by the world’s teachings can make wrong seem right.

So, a worldly successful woman can choose to opt out of her sacred vows. She believes she is entitled to it.

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. (Mat. 19:8, emphasis mine)

I had walked that cold corridor going to the offices of a reputable law firm. I wanted annulment. I wanted to pursue my own peace and happiness. Never mind if my baby needed a daddy. It wasn’t working. I had the money. I would recreate my life. The sound of my heels clicking against the tiled floor echoed in the empty corridor. It was hollow. Just like my soul.

But the Lord Jesus Christ got me even before I got to hire the lawyers’ services. He saved me. It wasn’t anything that I had done. It was pure grace. A mountain of divine mercy.

…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. (Rom. 5:20)

New Laws, Technology, and Inventions

Laws that give rights to do what is naturally wrong are created more and more. Their reach becomes wider and broader and gaining power. Today, men can change their gender physically and permanently and marry their own kind. Sodom and Gomorrah have risen up from the ashes. But if God completely destroyed it then because of utter sinfulness, wouldn’t it be the same now? Have the heart and character of the holy God of the Old Testament changed? Not a chance!

…I am the Lord, I change not… (Mal. 3:6)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8)

Thirteen years ago, I paid P60,000 for a liposuction procedure of my tummy. I was not at all fat. In fact, I was very slim as I spent hours in the gym everyday. But my tummy wasn’t as flat as I wanted it. I wanted to have a perfect body. I had the money. I had an option. I took it. Barely two months later, I fell ill.

If you would ask me, now that I’m a born-again Christian, what I think of liposuction, I would say it’s vanity, and it’s therefore sin. I would never recommend it.

Maybe we could buy happiness. We may enjoy it for a fleeting moment. But happiness will always be temporary (for it depends on our circumstances), but the joy that comes from the Lord lasts forever.

The narrow road doesn’t offer options so we could follow our own selfish desires. But rather, following Jesus requires us to deny ourselves and take up our own crosses (see Mat. 16:24). It’s a straight highway to heaven. It is a life fully surrendered to God and His will. But it is the only way to life.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat. 7:14)

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Journey with Jesus,

Kingdom Living

I came to know kingdom living the moment I set foot on the worship service of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry. It was a midweek service and even before the car doors were opened, I could hear the powerful reverberation of a whole stadium-size congregation worshiping in one accord. It overwhelmed my very sick and weak self. When I was brought at the very heart of the grandstand, I saw people in white clothes gripped in worship, as if they were entirely on a different realm. (Just a few hours before I left home, I had lain in bed, ashen and weak, the sound of voices around me seemed like it was coming from under the earth; it was death coming to fetch me. But I prayed for deliverance and salvation). Still in that dazed condition when we arrived at JMCIM worship service, I thought I had died and was caught up somewhere between heaven and earth.

kingdom living

Later on as I continued to attend worship services three times a week, heard a barrage of amazing testimonies (in a spiritually powerful way), and began to read the Bible, I understood that the Church the Lord brought me to lived like the early apostles and believers found in the Book of Acts. The stories I heard were replete with God’s power and nothing short of miraculous. It both encouraged and scared me. My hope was greatly strengthened for I knew that only God’s miracle could heal my broken body. And yet, the boldness and courage of those witnesses to trust God instead of doctors, specialists, hospitals, and drugs terrified me.

One testimony I heard which brought a bright hope to my soul as well as trepidation was the testimony of a brother whose wife was sick of breast cancer. He left home to offer prayer and fasting. When he came back after a 5-day fasting, he laid his hands on his sick wife and cast out the demons of cancer. Instantly, the tumor ruptured and the cancer flowed out of his wife’s body. I wanted that! Oh, how I wanted that kind of faith and miracle!

Through my continued reading of the Bible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I knew and believed that the kingdom of God has come upon this Church.

But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:20)

The faith and confidence of the Church to heal and cast out demons of diseases, vices, and addictions were hinged upon the mighty power of God through His Spirit and promises.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

Kingdom living is living victoriously in all areas of life, fully utilizing the resources of God’s kingdom in the here and now which are available to the children of God through the power of His Holy Spirit.

It requires a sturdy, unwavering faith in God. Faith that takes action. Faith that makes that first step. Faith that is confident and trusts completely.

Faith is a verb.

But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20)

During those first months after being saved, I was scared to face the truth: Do I have that kind of faith? Do I have what it takes to receive the miraculous?

It is true that trusting God completely with our very life is frightening when we have been taught to trust in man and his inventions. But the miraculous only happens in faith. And in obedience. In taking that first step to believe and trust. Didn’t the Lord Jesus Christ say many times, “Thy faith hath made thee whole”?

Kingdom living is believing and trusting in this power that Apostle Paul strained to describe and prayed that all followers of Christ would come to know:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.(Eph. 1:17-19)

Exceeding.

Greatness.

Power.

Working.

Mighty.

It is as if the apostle couldn’t quite express God’s magnificent power in words. And indeed, words fail to describe it.

We know it. We believe it. And yet, we don’t always trust it or live it.

It is only by God’s grace and our willingness to surrender our doubts and unbeliefs and stepping out into faith that this exceeding great power will be at work mightily in our lives. The Lord Jesus will meet us in our cry for help,

“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

We have varying measures of faith; He will honor what little we may have. He said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed…” What could be tinier than a mustard seed? He has sown the seed of faith. He is the author of it. He will also perfect it (see Heb. 12:2).

We must bear the fruits of faith where He has placed us. When He puts us in front of our Red Seas or burning fiery furnaces or lion’ dens, He will also provide the faith and courage we need to step right into them. He promised:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you. (Is. 43:2)

One night in 2006, Hannah, then 5 years old, was very sick. She had a high fever and was hallucinating. As red as a cooked crab and her eyes wild with fear, she was so terrified with the things she saw (she was screaming that there were horrifying monsters come to get her). She clung to me, trembling in fear. I straddled her as I waved my Holy Bible in the air, at the same time casting out the demons with all my strength. She would calm down and fall asleep, but after a while, she would open her eyes wide again and the same thing would be repeated.

Felix was in Pampanga then, praying and fasting. In our time of great crisis, he was in the best place for a miracle. Bringing Hannah to the hospital was not what I wanted. I couldn’t drive anyway. Still awaiting healing myself, I couldn’t even walk more than a few steps.

Our two Christian helpers and I sang praises to God, but at some length, one of them said that we needed to call the Pastoral House for help. At past midnight, two workers arrived. Together, we praised and worshiped, then they prayed over Hannah and cast out the demons. Hannah immediately fell asleep. We were all exhausted, too, so we all went to sleep. I implored the two workers to stay the night in the guest room.

It was 11 in the morning when Hannah and I woke up. We had a very restful sleep! She smiled at me, the sweetest smile I ever saw and will never forget. She then got up and ran to the kitchen. She said she was parched and wanted to drink. She was completely healed! Hallelujah!

But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:20, emphasis mine)

But miracles don’t happen everyday. What, then, does kingdom living look in the everyday? It’s righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (see Rom. 14:17). Nothing less.

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Journey with Jesus,

The Beauty of Obedience

obedience

I am in awe of the faithfulness of the Lord through His Spirit that He has given us. He speaks to us through His abiding Spirit, even of the minutest detail of our lives. That is, if we are constantly attuned to His Spirit’s whisperings. If we foster an unbroken fellowship with Him and are […]

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A Mother’s Heart

A Mother's Heart

The night before the kids’ trip to Island Cove, sleep eluded me, as is often the case when my unused, atrophied legs ache and my mind is so active, flitting from one thought to another. No, I wasn’t thinking about problems and worries. My brain just wants to think often even during sleeping time :D. […]

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God’s Beautiful Presence

God's beautiful presence

I should have been thrilled when school ended and the kids would be on vacation for more than 4 months. Four months! Because Reedley International School will be following the USA’s start of school year beginning July. But I wasn’t that excited at all. Sure, I was very thankful for a fruitful school year, the […]

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Of Starfishes, Sick Parrots, and Sonship

IMG_4212

As you know, friends, the Lord has blessed me with another beautiful gift and that is watercolor painting. Sometime last year, the thought of creating something pleasing to the eyes occurred to me and I thought that watercoloring would not be too physically taxing for my fragile health. And so, I ordered my Royal and […]

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