Draw Near

The poem I wrote (below) on Friday last pretty much sums up the theme of my life right now. Though there are still deep desires and longings in my heart that make my soul sad and burdened, I am falling into the practice of drawing ever nearer to God through each day, in worship, in song, in prayer, in writing, through the Word, and in my thoughts. If the Bible says that when we draw near to God, He draws near to us (see James 4:8), then it is a promise that I would like to claim. We just need to be intentional and diligent about it. Whether we are drawn in our fervent love and devotion to Him or in our desperation, we do it and that is a good thing. But when it comes down to it, it is really the Lord Jesus’ love stirring us to draw near.

…Then I will cause [her] to draw near,
And [she] shall approach Me… (From Jer. 30:21)

The latter part of the poem speaks about my testimony of what happened two Sundays ago during worship service.

draw near

Draw Near



If we walk in the light
Where God abides
We have fellowship with Him
And the blood of Christ
Cleanses us from all sin...

Then why don't we draw near
As often as Love leans in?

If by His life
We receive our own
A new heart, new creation
If in Him
We are made righteous
Sanctified, forgiven...

Then why don't we draw close
As often as Love calls?

If we come to Him
He promises rest
From all our labors and heavy weights
His yoke will be easy 
And His burden light...

Then why don't we draw close
As often as Love invites?

If we run to the well
He meets us there
He makes us to drink
His living water
We'll never again thirst 
In this life
And even forever...

Then why don't we draw near
As often as Love whispers?

If in His throne of grace
We'll find mercy
In time of great need
If from His hand 
All blessings flow
Abundant, unhindered...
Then why don't we draw near
As often as Love stirs?

If at His feet
We can cast all sorrows and cares
And know that He knows
Every grief, every burden
Upon our shoulders
And hears all our prayers...

Then why don't we draw near
As often as Love remembers?

If at the cross
Salvation flows
Healing is ours 
Through the stripes
That He bore...

Then why don't we draw close
As often as Love pulls?

If in our praises
He comes down
And sits upon the throne
Of our hearts' hymns and songs
Rejoices over us
Turns our mourning into dance...

Then why don't we draw close
As often as Love rings out?

If in His presence
There is fullness of joy
Sorrows are soothed
As in the Lord we rejoice
Hurts are forgotten
As His face we behold...

Then why don't we draw close
As often as Love unfolds?

In just one song
Drawn from the soul
My heart opened wide
And my spirit soared
Fear had no place
In His glorious praise
There is only grace 
All-abounding grace!

I raised my hands
Wanting to be lifted up
To that place where He dwells
Where there is only light.

Love, overwhelming love
Gripped me like a whirlwind
All doubts and struggles
Flew away and fled
His presence is power
There is like no other.

Eyes tightly closed
I found myself under
The cross of Christ
And I wondered
Beheld His brokenness
Speaking to me 
"Child, because of this, 
You are healed."

Blood poured out 
Upon my upturned face
As I received 
Every drop
Of this precious blood
By which I am saved.

Tears trickled down
As a keening cry broke out
From the depths of my soul 
For I knew not
What to say or pray for
But the Spirit of God
Interceded on my behalf.

Draw near to God
As often as Love resounds.

~ Rina R. Peru

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Evergreen

If our family has to set up a Christmas tree, I want it to be a reminder of the Lord Jesus Christ, no more, no less. If we are honest enough, we do get excited in putting it up year after year, a family ritual that we look forward to. But I’ll bet most of us have not stopped to ask, “What is this really for? What does it tell about the Savior who is coming to the world?” We just know that the Christmas tree is an important icon in the celebration of the birth of Christ passed down to us from generation to generation. I won’t go further than that although I know it would stir up debates if we dig deeper as to its origins, whether it speaks purely of Christianity or tainted with pagan practice.

evergreen

The first Christmas tree, which finds its origins in Germany in the 16th century, was a real, evergreen tree. It could be pine, spruce, or fir decorated with flickering candles. According to history.com, it was Martin Luther, a German friar who began the Protestant Reformation, who first added lighted candles wired around the branches of an evergreen tree erected in their family’s living room.

We know that most Christian homes in North America have the advantage of erecting a freshly-cut evergreen Christmas tree. They can find them from near their homes or buy from Christmas tree farms which, I believe, can be found everywhere.

But not so in the tropical Philippines. Two years ago when I first had these questions about the Christmas tree, I determined that if we had to set it up (again!), it must be a real evergreen. But that was impossible. I didn’t know of any Christmas tree farm anywhere in the Philippines (although this year, I resolve to research on it). Last year, since we were scheduled to buy a new tree, I requested my husband to choose specifically a  faux spruce tree. I thought that was the nearest we could get to the original.

So, we had our “spruce” tree, so tall it reached the ceiling (for me, that wasn’t necessary), and some pine cones. I preferred it to stay that way: evergreen with some pine cones here and there, period. And maybe a string of tiny lights in the color of the twinkling stars in the heavens above wired around it to light it up at night. But the kids wouldn’t hear of it. Before I knew it, they had hauled the boxes of balls, beads, and other Christmas ornaments and began to adorn the tree. “Poor tree!” I thought as the green needles disappeared under a decade’s worth of accumulated ornaments. My heart felt burdened like the heavily-decorated tree.

Don’t we do that to ourselves, too? Carrying unnecessary loads that encumber our faith walk? I myself am still learning to not live in superfluity.

We come to the heart of the matter. Two Christmases ago, I saw the meaning of the evergreen tree we set up faithfully year after year. It was a private interpretation for me and a reason to keep the tradition. Like the evergreens which stay the same though seasons change, so does the Lord God Almighty. He stays the same. He never changes.

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

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

Jesus’ love is evergreen. I want to see the Christmas tree as a representation of it. And if only for this reason, I would acquiesce to setting it up when the season to celebrate the Savior’s birth comes around. May all our Christmases be all about the Lord Jesus Christ!

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Do Unto Others {Lessons from the Mount Part 3}

There is a world of difference between Christ’s command and Confucius’ famous golden rule. The golden rule of Confucius is “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” Or the more popular version: “Do not do unto others what you do not want others do unto you.” Jesus’ command as written in Matthew 7:12 goes like this:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Mat. 7:12 NIV)

Do not do unto others. For example, we will not gossip about others if we don’t want others to gossip about us. But we can do more, and that’s what Jesus’ command is all about. We can rebuke and teach others not to gossip at all, in the same way that we want to be rebuked and taught when we err. Jesus’ version is proactive, Confucius’ is passive. A Christian’s role in the world is wrapped up in this: Do unto others.

This story has been resolved years ago, but I want to share it with you for the lesson it carries.

When I was still well and president of our company, Actichem Marketing Corporation, I had a new employee who became my close friend overnight. We visited clients together and went out-of-town often, and during those hours on the road, we talked. I confided to her, leaving almost nothing about myself and my family. And my problems. One night, I invited her to dinner because I needed her advice. I was at the height of my personal problems and I practically didn’t know what to do. Two-year estrangement from husband. Adultery. Dark, uncertain future. I wanted her to help me because I perceived she was different. I almost suspected she was a Christian because of her gentleness and kindness.

She advised me alright, but in general terms, not the way I had expected a Christian woman would. She did not tell me then who and what she really was.

Even when I requested her to accompany me to my liposuction procedure with a popular cosmetic surgeon, she clammed up. She didn’t speak. She didn’t say it was wrong, it was vanity, and it might not be safe for me.

Weeks after the procedure, I fell ill. On my 36th birthday celebration, I could hardly leave my bed. My office staff gathered around the bed as I told them that I was looking for a Christian Church where I could go and ask for God’s mercy for me. It was only then that she spoke up. She said she was a born-again Christian and was serving the Lord in Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry.

If only she remembered Jesus’ command to “do unto others”, she would have opened her mouth to tell me about Jesus and His love and truth, etc., early on and not later. I am sure she herself would have wanted someone to lead her to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, when she would have found herself in my shoes.

So, you see? It’s not enough that we do not do unto others what we don’t want others do unto us. But we want that others would take action in our time of need. If you see that someone needs Jesus in his or her life, do to him/her what you would have wanted others do to you when you’re lost and your soul is suffering.

I believe we all need encouragement sometimes. Give encouragement to him/her who’s down. You would want that yourself when you found yourself in the same bind.

Do unto others. Move. Don’t be a victim of indifference and inaction.

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A Need to Refocus on Jesus

Sighing. Sadness. Heaviness. Grey clouds hovering. Maybe a trace of discontent, dismay even. That’s because we’ve been training our eyes on the world, more specifically, on our FB newsfeeds, rather than on the face of Jesus and on the pages of His eternal Word. There’s a need to refocus.

From the time I retired to bed last night to the moment I opened my eyes to another new day, the heaviness accompanied me, as well as the beckoning of the Beatitudes. I was looking for comfort from the Lord and He was directing me to the Beatitudes. As I waited for sleep to come, He was training my eyes toward His list of the truly blessed.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat. 5:3-10)

No matter how we read the Beatitudes, backwards or upwards, the theme is the same: it’s the godly poor and needy who are truly blessed. There is not a line that says, “Blessed are those who live in luxury and pleasure…” On the other hand, the Lord speaks of them in Matthew 6, “They have their reward.”

In all of the 33 years that Jesus lived on earth, there was not a time that He lived in luxury and pleasure. (Except perhaps when He slept in the boat with a pillow, or when He was invited to dinner and was served food and wine while His feet were washed with tears and anointed with spikenard. But even then, He’s been working, teaching the people and healing the sick that were brought to Him). From the night He was born in a manger to the day He was nailed to the cross, He modelled nothing but a life of humility and simplicity, love and mercy.

To my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ: If we only take our eyes off of the world and refocus them on Jesus, our hearts will be cleansed, our minds renewed, and we’ll live again in the glory of being the true children of God.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:16-17 NIV)

What comfort do these words bring to our sighing and hungering souls! But Apostle Peter is not done yet. He has this other reminder to us. It is of utmost importance that he begs us to obey:

 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. (1 Pet. 2:11)

Ah! If we only let our whole beings be soaked in these powerful words of life again, there’d be no weary wrestlings but only peace and joy unspeakable and full of glory!

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Journey with Jesus,