The Lord’s Imminent Coming {and Why I Will Not Play}

Everyday, I receive notifications about invitations to play games on Facebook. I have been wondering why I keep getting them despite my totally ignoring them. I receive invitations to all kinds of virtual games including gambling (this I had managed to totally block; the rest of the invites, I just ignore them), and I am wondering how I can put an end to this.

I will not play because I believe it is just futile, unprofitable. I will not play because I just.don’t.like.IT! And there’s more (for the benefit of those who do not stop to invite me to play):

I will not play because I think the hours that I am awake are not enough to do the following:

Read and study the Bible.

Praise, worship, pray.

Write posts that encourage and inspire.

Share the Gospel online and to family and friends.

Read good Christian books.

Plan meals and cook for the family.

Discuss the Word with the kids and assist them in reading the Bible and good books.

Play with the kids and spend joyous time with them.

Tend my family, our home, have sweet, tender moments with husband.

For the woman approved by God watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. (Prov. 31:27)

And if ever I find idle moments (and I do find idle moments due to my health condition), I will not play, but rather:

I will rest while listening to praise music.

I will study my piles of new cook books.

I will birdwatch in the garden and photograph them if I’m lucky.

I will enjoy a freshly-baked muffin (or bread, or cake, or cookie…) with milk tea.

I will edit photos and make posters with verses or my own quotations using PicMonkey to share on FB.

And if maybe I have done all of the above and I still find time to spare, I will stare at the Narra tree, or listen to the rustling of the leaves swaying with the gentle breeze, or marvel at the afternoon sun’s rays as they bathe the wild orchid clinging on the palm tree with their golden glow…and ponder on the goodness of God and praise Him for His beautiful creation!

I will not play because the Lord Jesus is coming any time soon and I want that He will find me watching and praying.

Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. (Matt. 13:33)

 I will not play because, before the Lord ascended to heaven, He charged the disciples (and all who will follow after them throughout the generations) to go to the ends of the earth and preach the Gospel to all people. (He did not send them to play unprofitable games). So, this is really what I desire and pray for: to go and tell the unsaved about the Good News.

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Rev. 3:10-11, emphasis added)

I will not play because I want to be like the five wise virgins whose lamps they kept on burning no matter how long it took for the bridegroom to come. But, behold, He’s coming quickly! And I want that my lamp is constantly burning for my Savior as I watch closely for His imminent coming.

My gratitude list ~ the things I’m thankful to the Lord for. Continuing to count His blessings:

76. This book I’m currently reading that’s blessing me.

77. The amazing testimonies I heard again on Sunday worship service which really blessed me beyond words, esp. the one from a mother and son (I hope to be able to write about it at Minister of Mercy).

78. My beloved husband and our friendship

79. Playing in the garden with the family

80. For the afternoon sun that bathes the garden with its golden glow.

I’m linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Beyond Romance

It’s after dinner and we’re in our room resting (after we stayed for a while in the living room listening to Hannah practice her piano piece). Hannah has kissed us goodnight and gone upstairs in her own room. Tim has been sleeping with us ever since his nanny left almost a year ago. He sleeps in a cot at the foot of our bed, but sometimes he sleeps with his Ate Hannah. He hasn’t been utilizing his own room upstairs except to nap in the afternoons.

Tonight, he wants to eat one of the chicken adobo rolls that I baked. While he is relishing the savory bun, I tell him to let his dad taste it, too, so he gives him the other half. And the comments start to come.

“The bread tastes good but you’re right, it needs sauce,” he starts.

“Oops! There is a ginger!” He notices.

“It’s an adobo, of course there’s ginger,” I answer.

“Oh-uh! There is a bone!” He complains as he fishes out for the culprit, a tiny piece of chicken bone.

This was exactly what I was thinking of when I told one of our maids who assisted me to make sure that there is no bone left in the meat as she flaked it. I didn’t want to hear complaints. Even a tiny bit. For me it is a big sacrifice to bake or cook considering that I do it against hard breathing, dizziness, and exhaustion. By the time I finished kneading the dough and started to wrap the meat one by one, I was too exhausted to check if a piece of bone was left amongst the meat! I just wanted the work to be finished so I could take my rest.

My husband knows my condition so well. It’s just frustrating that instead of him appreciating whatever food I produce through my pained efforts, he heaps up negative comments and … I just feel discouraged. So disappointed and discouraged that I bury my face in my hands and sob. I think about the story of Julia Child before she became a culinary guru, how her future husband had endured the dish she cooked for him and remained in his seat and finished his dinner like a gentleman and never uttered a complaint or criticism. The same story I read about Ree Drummond and her future husband who was gentleman enough to eat the food she cooked (which turned out to be a disaster) and never left the table nor expressed disgust. I think about all these and I can feel the self-pity and resentment mounting. But then, I remember also that comparisons N.E.V.E.R. do any good.

He leaves the room. Maybe he doesn’t want the issue to get worse. He is like that. He never wants to engage in a lengthy argument.

I easily get exhausted, and when I am exhausted, I easily get frustrated or disappointed or discouraged. But I always find solace in the Lord, thinking about Him, talking to Him.

I know he will be gone for a long time so I tell Tim to sleep beside me for a while. I just want to rest my tired body and sad heart. Tim sleeps beside me and the warmth of his body comforts my cold places. And I slowly fall to a peaceful slumber.

The opening of the door wakens me from my semi-conscious state but I don’t open my eyes. My husband gently lifts Tim in his arms and transfers him into his cot, then he settles in bed beside me. He comes so close behind me and hugs me very tight. His way of expressing he is sorry he hurt my feelings and made me cry. We stay that way for a few moments, then I need to go to the bathroom and need his assistance.

He stands up and dutifully carries me to the bathroom (for I still cannot walk the short distance :( ). He does it with devotion, like a love that had been committed just for this cause, this vow, more than a decade ago. I know. I just know. He is faithful and dependable like that. In sickness and in health, he never left.

For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. (Mat. 19:5)

He cleaved to me no matter how hard the trials had been.

The Apostle Paul, in explaining about marriage, after he echoes the Lord’s words, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”, he proceeds to say, “This is a great mystery…” (Eph. 5:31-32).

And remains a mystery to me, too, for there are times that I have to grope for my love – where I should place it, whether I want to give it or withhold it, or what if I lack it, or worse, do I even have enough to get through every marital woe? I often and fervently pray for my love to expand and cover all hurts and mistakes and ugliness. And then practice it. But the craving and striving could sometimes become wearying.

 Maybe what Dietrich Bonhoeffer had written is really true?

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage,
but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
― Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison

I feel it is true. For when I cannot grope for my love in the dark, the vow, the marriage, the commandment, the obedience to God are what holds it all together. To honor the vow, the commandment, is to honor God. We work hard on the marriage, therefore, ultimately to honor God.

He replenishes our love.

And here’s a photo of my freshly-baked chicken adobo rolls:

My gratitude list ~ the things I’m thankful to the Lord for. Continuing to count His blessings:

56. Painful divine pinches that remind this soul to walk perfectly before God, constantly leaning on His strength, wisdom and grace.

57. Singed fingers by hot glue stick – just a simple sign of a love that is willing to serve.

58. the people that assist us

59. His leading and help for me to be able to finally complete my first ebook.

60. the door that He mercifully and faithfully opens so that this soul will be liberated from whatever is holding it captive.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

When God is Silent

Just because of my desire to use a lovely feminine theme that is not available in wordpress.com, the former home of Our Healing Moments, I was obstinate to transfer my blog to self-hosted wordpress.org. Before I had that idea, I wanted to buy a premade pretty theme that I haven’t seen within the premises of wordpress.com, but I was warned that only self-hosted wordpress.org could avail of it. Whatever “self-hosted wordpress.org” meant (I didn’t have an idea!), I was dismayed to not be able to use the theme.

But in a matter of weeks, as my blog was transformed from a shabby Cinderella tending the cinders into a Cinderella arrayed with complete princess regalia, so was I also transformed from a very technically-challenged (and often ignorant) blogger into a grinning computer geek (well, almost! :)).

But the short time that I travelled that technical path was not without tears and sleepless nights. Sure, a patient, talented designer did help me a lot, so also a brother in Christ who is a web designer, and then there were the “happiness engineers” (they love to call themselves that) of wordpress.com who capably transferred all of my stuff to my new host. But when everything has been transferred and installed and my designer who did the customization could no longer accept additional work on my blog because of a busy schedule, I felt I was left alone in the midst of a site that still looked askew.

One night at a very late hour, I actually cried in frustration why I couldn’t seem to understand the technical aspect of blog design and why didn’t these thumbnails, featured images, sharing buttons, etc. just align themselves into a beautiful setup and I would then be happy? But while I felt all alone doing the design fixes of my blog and wrestling it into submission, I did my best to research, read and learn, and be brave enough to act. Soon, everything that I wanted to do with the remaining design and function of my site fell beautifully into place and I was squealing with delight!

This challenging path that I had recently traveled reminded me of God’s work in my life. Oh yes, there were seasons when God was silent and I didn’t know what to think and how to go on. I remember a particularly difficult situation when I was fighting for my life in a deserted room adjoining the chapel of Pampanga Fasting House. I felt so all alone and helpless. I agonized in prayer to God, pleading Him to just let me know if He was with me in my suffering and fears. Oh, how I needed to know!

In the midst of my dire need, I grappled to hold on to hope. God alone was my hope! I learned to trust in a powerful, invisible God and never let fear veer me away from pursuing Him. I learned to derive strength, peace, and light from His Word. I devoured His Word like the Living Bread that it really is. The Lord Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51) and “the Word was God” (John 1:1). So I sought Him, cried out to Him, held on the hem of His garment, and wrestled with Him to bless me too just like Jacob had done.

When God was silent in my life, my faith developed bones and muscles and gained a kind of strength that I couldn’t have gained if I were smothered by His attention and love. Not that His love was lesser in the season of His silence, but rather, it could be a manifestation of  the Father’s greater concern for His precious child. And so by His grace, I grew in the knowledge of Him.

During the season of His silence, He wants us to learn, to trust, to exercise our faith, and cast away our fears. He wants us to be strong, overcomers, more than conquerors, good fighters of faith. As Paul had found out, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

When our hearts are right with God, there is no reason to doubt Him in His silence. As the song goes,

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When you can’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His heart.

 Trust His heart! His heart aches for us, beats for us!

This Christmas, and all the days of the year for that matter, is a good time to remember His great love for us. Remember and take it to heart and let it be etched there; let every heartbeat whisper:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Let this be our meditation as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

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My gratitude list – the things I’m thankful to the Lord for:

14. An afternoon out with the family after over 3 years of not being able to do so.

15. My newly-transformed blog (I love it!) and the people who have patiently helped me: Bro. Glenn D. of Designer Philippines, Tiffany of Beautiful Dawn Designs, wordpress.com people, and Susan of Oh, Hello Designs who also happens to be the developer of my blog’s theme Pure Elegance.

16. For His sweet mercies, undying faithfulness, and showers of blessings that tears fall freely in overflowing gratitude!

17. For the Spirit of love, of power and of a sound mind, and daily inspiration to share and distribute His gift.

18. Hannah taking pictures of me inside the car while waiting for her Dad and Tim; us laughing at her quirks.

19. Tim planting a firm, long kiss on my cheek with a very tight hug.

20. For a very powerful, anointed, glorious preaching today during Sunday service. BLESSED beyond measure!

Please check my link-ups list here.

Journey with Jesus,

The Place of Humility

I was wheeled into our newly-refurbished kitchen for the first time in many years, and besides my delight to see our old kitchen transformed into a more modern and sleek design, I felt dwarfed by the walls and cupboards. I was looking up to them whereas before, I was eye level to them.

I could not contain my pleasure for having been able to eat again in the island (more of a peninsula) of our kitchen after many years of being in and out of illness. But the great mercies of God which I have continuously seen at work in my life drive me to that place of being bowed down low, in trials or in victories, and poised to offer a profusion of sincerest thanksgiving.

In times of great joy as what I had felt the moment I sat in our kitchen, there is only remembrance of God’s enduring mercies and unfailing goodness, and words are never enough to thank Him even as I raised my hands in praise and worship. Later on when I was in our room, I knew that the cupboards seemed to have gone higher because I was sitting in my wheelchair, whereas before, many years ago, I stood in the kitchen while I worked.

Sitting low in my wheelchair and feeling dwarfed by the things around me serve as a constant reminder to stay in the place of humility. The Lord spent years teaching me humility. Those trying years saw me really grappling to walk alongside my Savior. He walked beside me, went before me, but always, He held me when I was about to fall and raised me up when I did fall flat on my face. He allowed all that – stumbling, falling, hurting myself, raising me up – so I could learn the important lesson of humility and total dependence on Him (yes, not on my own wisdom and strength), among other things, and be partaker of His holiness (Heb. 12:10).

You see, pride and being “Ms. High and Mighty” could be a “disability”. This could make a cripple out of a follower and the Lord is determined to do away with it. So, this follower was chastened to God’s satisfaction (I hope!) and learned to make my paths straight so that my “lameness” (or disability – pride, self-sufficiency, among other things) was healed (Heb. 12:12). That’s the way I looked at the whole process of learning and healing and becoming whole.

So, I did learn humility – the hard way. Victories sometimes attempt to displace me from my posture of humility and thanksgiving, but remembrance of God’s goodness and tender mercies drive me to earnest repentance and keep me rooted in that place of humility. It is always this:

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4)

The place of humility is a place of grace.

…be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5, emphasis added)

The posture of lowliness is the posture to receive grace upon grace. We received God’s amazing grace that moment when we fell down on our knees and humbled ourselves before Him. And we will receive the grace to illuminate His light and be used for His purposes as long as we stay in this place of humility, for humility precedes honor (Prov. 15:33, 18:12). I think about Mary and her exemplary life of lowliness coupled with quiet strength. This is something a servant of the Lord could emulate.

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My gratitude list ~ things I’m thankful to the Lord for:

7. Being able to eat in the dining table (peninsula) in our kitchen after many years.

8. The Lord Jesus’ faithfulness to draw me closer and remind me of His enduring mercies and goodness.

9. Precious lessons learned in my walk with my Savior-Redeemer.

10. The delights photography – lights, colors, shadows – brings!

11. The love, peace, joy, and unity in the family

12. Home improvements

13. Tidied up and decluttered cabinets – clean house!

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

Faith that Works Through Love

Every time I read something about the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and the imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (like the book I’m reading now, Maranatha: Our Lord, Come) or hear news that a brother or sister in Christ has gone to be with the Lord, I have this instinctive desire to do more for Christ and it’s basically triggered by fear. But always instantaneously with the thought are these questions, “Why would you want to do that? You want to make sure that you will be saved? You want to do more just so you will be assured of salvation?” And even before the questions are complete, I know that to even think to do more to make sure I receive God’s promised salvation is misunderstanding God’s grace altogether.

I know there’s no way I can work for and earn my salvation; the Lord Jesus has completed the work for me. So, that checked, how can these reminders minister to me? It is not to do more to make sure I will be saved, but to be more faithful to my Savior, to burrow myself deeper into Him. For it is my faith which keeps me attached to Him. For to be far from Him, let alone be cut off from Him, would spell death for me. For it is faith in Him that has saved me. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

So, what I can do is to prove my faithfulness to Him. When I seek Him more with all my heart and spend more time in His presence, I’m being faithful to Him. When I do my best to obey His commands, honor them, and live them out in my daily life, I’m being faithful to Him. When I desire Him to expand and grow my love for others, so that I delight to think about the welfare of the widow and the fatherless, to the “least of these”, and do something for them, I’m being faithful to Him.

It is my faithfulness to Him that drives me to do more, and it has become clear to me that I can only prove that faithfulness through my love.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love(Gal. 5:6, emphasis added)

Faith that works through love.

It took two full years before I got a good grasp of it. For faith without works is dead (James 2:20). And the greatest faith is rendered as nothing without love.

…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)

So, it is a trio:

FAITH that WORKS through LOVE.

Now I understand fully why our dearly beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde Almeda would want to leave the comforts of home and the congregation of the saints and enter into the “lions’ den”, the camp of the most feared terrorist group in the country, the Abu Sayyaf, to preach the Gospel, pray for the sick hostages, and help with their safe release.

It was great FAITH that WORKED through unfeigned LOVE; fearless faith proven through fervent love for the Lord and for the unsaved. He loves the Lord so much he would obey Him and follow Him to the ends of the earth. Halleluiah! To God be the glory!

And I think about beloved Brother Alvin Flores, one of the prayer warriors who went with the beloved pastor in that most dangerous peace mission, as he went to be with the Lord just three nights ago. Together with his companions, he experienced the horrors of being in the constant presence of the enemy; escaped at night without the light of the moon and stars, in danger of wild beasts and falling into deep ravines; stayed on the ground with his knees deeply rooted in prayer as bombs fell from military planes, cutting down trees and turning over the earth in their wake.

Their faith saw them through that 3-month ordeal and came out of it unharmed. Faith that was not without love. And it is this faith that was proven through love that Brother Alvin finally laid at his Savior’s feet as he saw Him at last.

Related posts:

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My gratitude list ~ the things I am thankful to the Lord for:

(For over a year now, I have been joining Ann in sharing my one thousand gifts list, but I haven’t been numbering mine. I believed that my weekly list was just a small fraction of God’s daily gifts and to number them would be putting a limit to the rather COUNTLESS blessings. But today, I will start to number them, but write only the ones that may edify and encourage others, leaving the rest written on my heart).
  1. For another evening out with the family (another “travel test”); relishing these healing moments from the Lord.
  2. For the loving support and patience of my beloved husband; he is one with me in stepping into faith at this time of our life.
  3. For the love of my daughter Hannah, quietly receiving her little brother’s hostilities and punches inside our parked car just so I wouldn’t be stressed while their dad went into the restaurant.
  4. For Tim always wanting to sit beside me when I go out to the garden.
  5. For Thursday night which found me praising, worshiping, and weeping before God; weeping in deep gratitude for His enduring mercies – how can the soul forget?
  6. For brethren welcoming fellow Christians from the states, embracing and showing brotherly love. Blessed to see the wondrous sight!
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

Be Fully Awake!

Some time ago, I wrote The Lukewarm, taking heed of the Spirit’s leading and teaching at that time. Without a doubt in my heart, The Lukewarm was inspired by God, and I invite you to read it if you had missed it before as a background for this post :).

I was reminded by this post last night after I heard the testimony of a sister in Christ during Friday overnight service. She and her beloved husband are pastoral workers; the sister also sings in the Jesus Finest Generation Choir. From her testimony, I understood that her husband had grown lukewarm in his service to God. Why did I conclude that he was lukewarm and not cold? Because as I had written in The Lukewarm, the lukewarm make the effort of showing to everyone that they are still in the faith and going through the motions of serving God, but the fervor is gone.

They do it in hypocrisy, a farce, a thing which God hates.

I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[a] I will vomit you out of My mouth. (Rev. 3:15-16)

So, for a long time, this brother made a show of serving God every worship service, but as his beloved wife has testified, he wasn’t really into the things of God: praising and worshiping, praying, and reading the Bible daily. When he was in the worship service, he did his menial job but spent most of the time talking with his peers. He did not worship during time of deep worship, and he did not open his Bible during Bible Study and preaching.

Many times his beloved wife admonished him, even encouraged him to open up and talk about his spiritual state, but he wouldn’t listen. Until one day, the Lord took his health and strength. He became sick of diabetes and UTI among other ailments that afflicted him. He lost a lot of weight. Then there came a time that he became very ill that he was brought to the hospital. He was struggling to live.

Because of God’s chastisement, he changed his attitude towards Him. He repented of his negligence and shortcomings. He became more fervent in worshiping with the strength he had; he read the Bible often during the day, and his prayers became earnest, agonizing.

Until today, he is still begging God to heal him and give him another chance to honor and serve Him. He and his beloved wife continue to pray and be zealous in serving Him amid the hard trial.

I am thankful to God that He is ever faithful to send us reminders for us to perfect our ways before him, either directly to us or through a brother or a sister. This is a wake-up call for all of us. We cannot hide anything from God, no, not even the deepest crevices of our hearts. He knows everything in there more than we do. Remember the apostle’s admonition:

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb. 4:13)

There is no more time to be complacent, to be lukewarm in our love and service to God. He is coming so very soon and He wants to awaken us from our spiritual stupor. We need to stop acting and faking it and going about our lives being numb to the things of God, but at last be fully awake to them!

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Rom. 13:11 NIV)

Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning… (1 Cor. 15:34 NIV)

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • healing of Hannah of her stomachache and diarrhea with fever
  • late-night giggling and laughing with her about something funny that she said
  • renewed inspiration to write and photograph
  • delectable cakes from neighbor
  • luxuriating in exotic-scented bath products
  • new inspirations, new beginnings ~ change is good!

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

More Than Overseas Workers

It is with great gladness that I share this with you today. Though I’m still recuperating from severe diarrhea with fever and body pains that I suffered during the holidays, the Lord has brought a new wave of freshness to my humble work.

I’ve heard so many testimonies from overseas workers and seamen in our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, of how they are being used by the Lord to advance His kingdom. Our country, Philippines, is known for “exporting” work force – professionals as well as skilled workers – to all parts of the world, but mostly to the Middle East. They are called OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers. A lot of Filipinos also choose to work as seamen since this is a high-paying job, and though life in the ship is hard, compounded by the agony of being far away from their loved ones, they make the sacrifice, for it is through their overseas jobs that they can put food on their tables, build their dream houses, and send their kids to school. So, in general, that is the life of the overseas Filipino worker.

But the Christians from our Church who are OFWs are more than that. They are also zealous workers in the vineyard of the Lord, even in a foreign land which maybe hostile against Christianity, or aboard a cargo ship surrounded by other nationalities. For years I’ve been hearing their testimonies of how they work to preach the Gospel side by side with their jobs wherein they were hired, but it is only now that I realized this is actually the fulfilment of God’s great commission.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)

(Above photos were taken during the JMCIM-Saudi Arabia Spiritual Revival Gathering held last October, attended by Riyadh, Al-Khobar, Jeddah, and Dammam brethren with their visitors. Photos courtesy of Sis. Luchie Villacarlos.)

(Photo taken during the 5th Church Anniversary of JMCIM-Dubai Outreach, courtesy of Bro. Enry Bantay.)

They voluntarily give themselves to the furtherance of the Gospel, despite their full-time job, and put up outreach stations where they can meet and worship. They invite colleagues, co-workers, and friends, and their groups continue to grow. More outreach stations are mushrooming, specially in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, they go to such dangerous lengths just to gather and worship. I wrote about JMCIM-Saudi Arabia’s activities here. I hope you’ll have time to read it and be encouraged by how these beloved brethren in Christ put their lives in danger for the sake of the Gospel. Through their labors and the unceasing prayers with fasting of our beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde Almeda, many have received the Lord Jesus Christ, Muslims have converted, and they continue to serve the Lord to this day. 

(One of many Bible Studies at POLO/OWWA, Doha-Qatar)

Lately, the beloved brethren in Qatar have been holding crusades in the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Association ) Office where many of our beloved countrymen are housed. Most of them are destitute, being faced with seemingly unsurmountable problems, such as disputes with the government, their employers or co-workers or battling illness. After they had heard the Gospel and received the Lord Jesus Christ, their problems had been resolved and most of them had been sent home.

(General worship service of JMCIM-Hong Kong; photo courtesy of Sis. Satty Bulusan)

(Beloved HK brethren giving out Church invitations; photos courtesy of Sis. Satty Bulusan)

In Hong Kong as you know, many of our countrymen work there as domestic helpers. Brethren from JMCIM maintain an outreach station there and they meet every Sunday when most of them are off from work. Every now and then, the main Church in Manila sends a preacher to visit them and stays for weeks. After their Sunday worship service, these faithful brethren go out and share the Gospel to others and bring them to Christ. It would be late when they return to the homes where they serve. That is how they spend their day off.

The seamen are not behind in their calling either. They are as zealous in sharing the Gospel and winning souls. Whether they are captains of the ship, engineers, technicians, or cooks, they are used by the Lord in furthering the kingdom. I’ve heard many testimonies of how they had been saved through a fellow sailor. Indeed, in our Church, seamen form a large number and they serve the Lord with their families.

These Christians have tasted first-hand the goodness of God: they have received His tremendous mercy and the blessings of a new life in Him. These are living testimonies – freed from vices and addictions, healed of diseases and illnesses, families restored – who believe without a doubt that they are heirs of eternal life. These are the things that drive them to share Christ and His Gospel.

Additional reading: A Light to Others (with the testimony of Bro. Ren Gumayagay, a seaman)

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • Being healed of severe diarrhoea, fever and body pains after prayer and laying of hands by my beloved husband.
  • the love and care my daughter Hannah showed while I was sick; grateful to see how she has learned love and learning Christ.
  • Tim thoughtfully putting an orange on my food tray
  • anointed testimonies and choir singing on Sunday service; the Lord’s fervent love that never grows cold
  • worshipers being filled with the Holy Spirit, speakings in tongues, the mighty sound of the powerful moving of the living God – a glorious, glorious sight!
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

 

How Have We Been Redeeming the Time?

One evening last week, I received a “blanket” text message from the main Church of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry. Beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde Almeda had seen a vision during prayer. He saw the Lord in tears. He was weeping because there were brethren who turned their backs on Him and had chosen to embrace the world. And there were others whose love had grown cold. He wanted to warn everyone that His coming is very near. Then the beloved pastor saw heaven open and the Lord handed trumpets to the angels. The Lord Jesus is coming very soon, so the beloved pastor’s earnest reminder is for everyone to be fervent in serving the Lord, to be vigilant and to not let the enemy deceive anyone.

After reading the important message, these words instantly came to mind: “redeeming the time”.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-17)

And I asked myself, “How have I been redeeming the time?” I realized that I came short in fulfilling this.

I had seen in other devotional blogs (and I had written it on mine, too) how this phrase had often been used, but when I read the urgent message about the vision, it was only then that I really put my whole attention to it.

We might have been consistently sharing the Gospel and our testimony through speaking and writing, but we might not have realized that there was an element missing all the time. I know that there are so many in our Church (JMCIM) whose fervor in winning souls has not waned a bit throughout the passing of time, but I definitely can’t speak the same for myself. When I examined myself, I found out that I have slackened my grip on my desire for the salvation of others. All the while, I believed this was just normal, thinking that we really couldn’t push our faith to others, even to family and friends.

But I realized that this slackening, this relaxing, was taking longer and complacency was actually slowly creeping in. How could I say that when all the time I had been writing prolifically on my blog about the Gospel? I must confess, it lacked the element of urgency. Yes, urgency. When we take action to win souls for Christ, the driving force behind it is not reluctant obedience – you know, just to show God that we’re doing our assignment – but the thought that every second that passes, the unsaved is in the brink of falling into the Pit, that it might already be too late for them.  We have to really care for their salvation

I want to see it this way (and therefore, would move accordingly): the salvation of souls is an emergency. It is as if we only have little time, and indeed we only have today, to do what we need to do. That alone should move us into action. This is “redeeming the time”.

There are reasons why our urgency gradually slides into complacency.

Indifference and Coldness of Others

There was a season that I profusely shared God’s truth and testimonies to loved ones, spending almost the whole day talking about testimonies after testimonies. They might have been touched and believed for from then on, they would ask for prayer whenever the need arose, but that wasn’t enough for them to receive the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in water in His name. They still preferred the old life, the religion that they were born into and grew up with. And though we’re definitely not giving up, our fervency hibernates indefinitely, but until when? I know I need to come out of my cocoon, to wake up from my complacency and begin winning my loved ones feverishly once again.

Fear of Persecution

Maybe we don’t want to hear people say all manner of hurtful words or insults about our faith. But that’s taking it to the extreme. What I had been guilty of was feeling quite embarrassed when I speak about Jesus and my faith, and the people I talk to made attempts to ignore the topic. I then learned to be discreet in bringing up the topic of salvation. But maybe I had become overly cautious to the extent of neglecting to do what I needed to do.

We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

I admire the second-generation movers of our Church. I want to specifically mention beloved Teth (one of our beloved pastor’s children) and her beloved husband, Minister Luke Smith. They have settled in America with their four children but they make it a point to come home to Manila yearly to minister, sacrificing their children’s schooling. Just last Saturday, Oct. 27, the couple organized a concert for the youth entitled Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom Concert. Hannah and her Dad went to the concert while I stayed home and watched via live webcast. I was amazed at the preparation they had put into it in just a matter of weeks. Thousands attended, most of them youth.

The special numbers presented were all anointed – singing, special testimony, play, and the invitation to receive salvation. I was blown away by the power and glory of the Savior.  Beloved Teth and Minister Luke, together with their family and siblings, gave their all and it was so soul-stirring – such an inspiration! They shook the foundations of the stadium, so to speak, with their all-out, indefatigable singing and worship that hundreds of the youth that came received Jesus Christ. But it wasn’t only a great opportunity to bring salvation to the youth, it was also a time of revival for believers like me.

Their zeal speaks of how important and urgent the matter of salvation is.

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Giveaway winners!

A leather-bound, embossed designed KJV Bible from Christianbook.com.

Veron Pagulayan

Congratulations!

Thank you to all who joined!

God bless you!

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • finishing 8 days of half-day fast
  • victorious Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom concert
  • spiritual revival: soul was stirred; blessed beyond expectations!
  • for brethren in Christ who inspire!
  • laughing with family until tummy hurt
  • true and durable joy
  • long and tight hugs
  • amazing, faith-fortifying testimonies
  • Hannah having had a wonderfully blessed time during the youth concert
  • slow cooker meals
  • Tim singing his kindergarten songs loudly
Photo courtesy of Sis. Helen Grace Arcilla.
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

 

Working Out Our Most Important Relationship

When I read that part where the Apostle Paul told the Philippians to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), I didn’t really understand then what it entailed. I didn’t know how to do it in a deep sense, in a very personal level. I heard a preacher in our Church exhort about it in general terms, likening our salvation with that of a precious gift, and doing our very best to hold on to it, to not let it be snatched away by the enemy. I understood that we should not be complacent but always be watchful.

Then I read what Ms. Darlene Zschech had briefly written (I think on the back of one of her CDs?), “Just work out your relationship with Jesus.” It stuck with me. For that was at a time when I was struggling to understand what was happening with my life, straining to see the light amidst the fiery trials. When you’re tested to the uttermost, you want to have at least an understanding of what is happening, where your life is leading to, if God is even with you.

Working out our own salvation as Apostle Paul implores us means as much as working out our relationship with our Redeemer. It is synonymous. When we received our salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, we entered into a relationship with Him. Our salvation then can never be apart from our relationship with Him. When we work out our relationship with our Savior King, we are working out our own salvation. (Even the quality of our other relationships is determined by how healthy or poor our relationship with the Lord Jesus is).

Why is there a need? I believe all of us who received the Lord Jesus and His salvation have experienced the struggle to maintain a fervent, faithful, and trusting relationship with Him in varying degrees. This struggle is most felt during a hard and prolonged trial. In my case, it was a combination of physical, mental and emotional suffering compounded with problems and challenges in our company and household, spelling out a F-I-E-R-Y | T-R-I-A-L no less.

During that long chilly season, my relationship with my Savior was one which ebbed and flowed, now and then marred with doubts and fears, and threatened by feelings of sullenness, discontent, disheartenment, bitterness, and a few times, even silent rebellion. It was like you want to confront the One who has control of it all and know why. Why? You just want to know why.

It was during this time that I got so intimately acquainted with Job. Talk about being kindred spirits by going through physical suffering and the mental and emotional anguish it brought. Oh friends, I know how it was to live between life and death everyday. Job wanted a confrontation with God so much; He longed to understand the meaning behind all his suffering. Oh, how I had echoed Job’s laments!

There were times that I wanted to go far away from Him just to let Him know that I was hurt by His seeming indifference. Yes, I had struggled with my relationship with my Redeemer King: sulking and having a pity party one minute, then running to His arms the next. There was battle of wills: His and mine. Why doesn’t the Lord just heal me so I can continue to manage our company seeing my husband grapples with the intricacies of a chemicals company? That was just one of my questions in the early years.

There is a struggle because our own will and wants, motivated by our own limited understanding, clash with God’s will, His thoughts and ways. Although we were called to a personal relationship with Jesus our Savior, calling Him our best friend, He is still God and there is a need for us to surrender to Him – completely. To yield ourselves to Him in total abandon.

I have learned that during trials, our relationship with our Lord Jesus is tested and threatened. Faith, trust, hope, steadfast love – all these that weave the threads of the tapestry of our relationship with Him become most vulnerable. It is during these times then that we really get to work. Work out our relationship with Him. How?

One of the keys is to know Him more. In the early part of my fiery trial and my relationship with the Lord Jesus was precariously tested (well, that was as far as I knew with my limited view of the bigger thing, but it definitely wasn’t the same with Him; He was holding me steadfastly all the time and never letting go, but I didn’t know that), my constant prayer was to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

We can know Him more by spending much of our time reading and meditating on His Word.

Another way is to draw ever nearer to Him; seek His powerful presence through worship. My favorite worship song during this time was Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer by Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Do you struggle in your faith walk? Continue to work out your relationship with the Lord Jesus. This is one relationship that has utmost importance to us. He is our Bridegroom, we are His Bride. We look forward to His coming when we’ll be forever with Him.

Additional reading: First Love

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • One whole week without maids; it was like a holiday for our family and the peace, joy and intimacy it brought were priceless.
  • Singing praises with heart full of faith and fervent love for the Lord bringing a gush of hot tears as Tim struggled to breathe due to asthma-like cough.
  • A fruit gift basket with a beautiful card.
  • Eating bunches of lanzones with family.
  • My vegetable garden coming to life now.
  • Pretty boxed cards, good pens collection, new friends, and lovely written words
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

 

How to Maintain Inner Peace

The morning of the day I planned to write this, a problem arose that would test exactly what I wanted to write about. This wasn’t the first time that it has happened – the testing before or after the writing. It is as if the real Author of all these Spirit-inspired written words are testing this writer if she could practice what she preaches, or walk in the way of what she writes about.

Early in the morning, my beloved husband learned that our company driver who was sent to the province with the delivery van was apprehended by the traffic police and without calling and informing his boss (my husband), he paid the police PhP2,000 just so, according to him, they wouldn’t impound the van and take his driver’s license. My husband at once got furious.

Why didn’t he call him about the problem and before he paid PhP2,000?
What exactly was the violation? Transporting a second-hand oven. (Huh?!)
Did he get a receipt for paying PhP2,000? No. It went straight to the hands of the enforcers. (What?!!!)
Did he get the names of the traffic enforcers who received the money? No, he did not.

My husband started to think that maybe the driver, who has been working for our company for eight long years, wasn’t telling the truth. He gave him PhP3,000 for gas and toll fees which was more than enough (the tank was more than half-full before the trip). Without going into much detail, he has reasons to think so. When he told me all about it, I myself was surprised. To be apprehended by traffic police for transporting a second-hand oven which sits inside a closed delivery van is very unusual. (We upgraded our kitchen and the old oven was going to a relative). And, being born-again Christians, it is our company policy never to give bribes for any reason at all.

The endless analyzing and discussing while temper is slowly brewing can sap one’s energy for sure. And I didn’t have my praise and prayer time yet! Which effectively brought to mind my topic for today. So, I told my husband this: “What has happened has happened and we can no longer undo it. If the driver is telling the truth, we have to accept it and move on (except of course, my husband has yet to discuss it again with the driver in person). If not, God knows it and He will be the one to do something about it. The thing is, there should be an end to all the angry talk and doubts.”

That is what I really wanted to write about today: Much of our problems are aggravated (if not triggered) by our incessant worrying, analyzing, judging, discussing, complaining, striving, and by often choosing the way of anger and dissatisfaction. This happens when we focus more our attention to the things around us – people, events, material – than focusing our eyes on God.

I remember the early days when the “new man” was a babe in Christ – fresh, yielding and with an undistracted, quiet spirit. We were on our way to a nearby province to attend a wedding where my husband and I were principal sponsors. We were traveling with a sister in Christ who was older than us, both in age and in years of serving the Lord. She and my husband were jovially talking about people and events, and now and then, joked and laughed at the stories they were sharing with each other. I sat quietly in my seat, not speaking a single word. I was revelling in the quiet of my spirit, soaking up in the peace that the Lord put in my heart. I would sometimes stroke the long strands of my hair while I looked out the window and gazed at the seemingly never-ending green fields and rolling hills in the horizon. Ah! What peace! What an invigorating feeling of fresh holiness! 

I have to be honest: I have lost much of that holy quiet and calm throughout the years as I wrestled with prolonged physical suffering and with the difficulties of trying to keep up with the daily grind, what with a body that easily gets weary and weak.

I grieve about losing much of that constant quiet glorying in the Lord, but I haven’t forgotten that day nor the feeling of basking in the Lord’s light, unmindful of the chaos in my surroundings, and I believe it is still possible. It is always possible.

Here are some ways to maintain inner peace:

  • Be mindful of the things we think about. Don’t let negative things play in our minds, endlessly and futilely wrestling with them.

Is there somebody in your life who hurts you with his or her rude or thoughtless behaviour? Don’t focus on it. It is not your problem. It has nothing to do with you. But you can pray for him or her.

  • Don’t weary yourself by endlessly thinking, analyzing, worrying, or discussing about things that you cannot change or have no power over.

Learn to accept the things that you cannot change. Hand all of them over to God. Let Him do the solving and fixing. He is a specialist in mending the broken, rearranging what has gone awry, and making all things work together for our good.

  • Fix your eyes on Jesus and stay under His light.

One day years ago, my husband walked into the room with the news that there was something wrong with the papers of one of our properties that we were planning to sell. I understood that I might not have transacted with the rightful owners when I bought it. When he left, my body at once reacted with the stress this news brought, but I raised my hands and prayed. I relinquished all control to God. I found peace also in releasing that material thing. Later in the day, my husband told me that there was just an error and everything was well.

Don’t let problems suck you up. But be sucked up in the Lord’s light. Under His light, we receive wisdom and the peace that comes with it. Away from His light, there are shadows and darkness and it would be easy to lose our way.

Additional reading: The Spirit Bids {Ways to Seek Holy Moments}

Giveaway Winners!

DaySpring “Blessed and Loved” mug with lid and Dayspring “Live, Love, Laugh” journal.

DaySpring mug with lid and journal: Bing Puzon

DaySpring journal (consolation prize): Marilyn Facton

Congratulations and thank you all for joining!

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My gratitude list – the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • My daughter Hannah lovingly offering to massage my aching legs; she did it well, inducing me to a sound slumber :).
  • Learning to photograph objects in motion
  • The peace that descends and covers my whole being after a heartfelt praise and worship.
  • The blessed celebration of my birthday: family, good food, love and laughter.
  • A nephew who helped me with all the preparations so that I was able to rest and relax.
  • Filled to overflowing for all the testimonies of God’s miracles that I heard in Church today during the 12th Victorious Mindanao Peace Mission Anniversary.
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,