I admit, this is not a popular topic. Not in this day and age. No matter how you pepper it with soft, comfortable words, hell is a place that will always signal horror, regret, damnation and eternal suffering to each of us. There are things that we don’t see – but oh how we feel it. And its effects extend to our physical, financial, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life.
I remember when I was still studying and I couldn’t find an assignment I did days ago for our Chemistry subject. Back then, this professor was not only my class adviser, she was also our batch adviser and need be to mention, the most TERROR teacher I’ve met. No kidding, even my mom was afraid of her! So going back, I couldn’t find my assignment. Continue reading “How God Understands Your Loss” »
I’ve been reading the book ‘A Love worth Giving’ by Max Lucado a second time. It’s taught me a lot about love. “Love is patient…” is at the top of the famous 1 Corinthians 13 series of how love’s should be. It is love’s flagship – bearing all other attributes of love behind it. This entry is taken from Max Lucado’s book about love being patient – and is meant to remind us about true patience in love.
People get angry – it’s a perfectly normal reaction when someone oversteps boundaries in your emotion. Have you ever thought why you get angry? What triggers your anger? And if you do get angry, what do you do then?
Would you agree with me if I say that some Christians miss God’s best because they have been in search for God’s will? How the statement is ironically paradoxical. While seeking God’s will is right and a wise thing to do, I hope we do our seeking the right way. Most of the time in our desperate search for His will, we forget what our faith is all about – moving forward with confidence that God is in control.
He’s wearing white slacks and long sleeves that seemed to glow as he smiled. No, I didn’t see the smile but i felt it – strongly.
I nodded unknowingly, “Why did you come?”
He was looking for me ever since – it’s just he decided to finally meet me.
The Cross is God’s plan for freeing you from the guilt and punishment of your past sins. At the Cross we see both the depths of our depravity and the heights of God’s amazing love for us. We witness both the terrifying intensity of God’s just wrath for sin and His unspeakable mercy and love for sinners.
Because sinners have no other hope.
Because it is the unassailable proof that we can be forgiven.
This entry has been taken from the book ‘Boy Meets Girl’ by Joshua Harris. Some edited parts are my own.
Let’s gaze on it together. As we draw close, don’t assume that you already know or understand what happened there. Come to the Cross as if for the first time. In the book ‘When God Weeps‘, Steven Estes and Joni Eareckson Tada give the following account of Christ’s death. As you read, refuse to let the scene be familiar. Let its reality shock you and break your heart.
The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20)
The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his brow…
“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The victim wills that the soldier live on – he grants the warrior’s continued existence. The man swings.
As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.
But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.
His Father! He must face his Father like this!
From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes His mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross.Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognize these eyes.
“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, over-spent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held a razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who moles young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end!
Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?
Of course the Son is innocent He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.
The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.
“Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”
But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.
The Trinity had planned it. The Son had endured it. The Spirit enabled Him. The Father rejected the Son whom He loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted His sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.
Don’t move too quickly from this scene. Keep gazing.
The Rescue accomplished here was for you. John Stott writes, “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance)… As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both ‘I did it; my sins sent Him there,’ and ‘he did it; His love took Him there.’”
Did you see your own offenses on the list of sins that necessitated the Cross? If not, name them yourself. Name your darkest sin. Now reflect on the fact that Christ bore the punishment for that sin. He took the punishment you deserved. Do you feel His passionate and specific love for you? He died for you. He was condemned and cursed so that you could go free – He was forsaken by God so that you would never be forsaken (Hebrews 13:5)
That’s what Jesus’ death on the cross has to do with our past, present and future sins.
Society has been powerfully portraying the “Now” Mentality. “I Want it now!”, “I need to have this now!”, “Now, Now Now!” And it’s made it’s way in the most intricate parts of our culture today – from childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood. Now is what’s important. Living for today is what matters.
This entry was inspired by the song “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller – you can watch the MTV at the end of this entry.
There is an insatiable void intertwined between the depths of our soul and our flesh which is best captured by the word ‘Appetite‘. We have an appetite for a lot of things as humans. This is how we are wired because, believe it or not, we were made for pleasure with God.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” - Psalm 16:11
“Now” is not a solution to fill that void. Appetite is always there. So what do we do about it?
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” - Isaiah 40:31
Learn how to wait
Appetite will never leave. Learning to control your appetite is one of the vital disciplines of life.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24
Denying yourself of appetite will leave room for God to move. Let me tell you my story.
At a Crossroads
Right now, I’m in a point in my life where I desire to get married. It’s not easy. Why? Because there is the huge temptation to make my security for myself. To make sure that we get married NOW. There are so many things that just pop into my mind about my own desires, my own security, my own APPETITE!
I can honestly tell you – it is so hard to wait on God. Not knowing what lies ahead. Not knowing when His provisions will come.
But one thing I know. And that is God has provided for me from the beginning. I used to eat Sky flakes Crackers for both lunch and dinner. I used to count my money to check if I can still go home commuting. I used to wear old shoes with worn-out soles – making it uncomfortable and possibly damaging to my feet.
God has blessed me. I never had the same situation as then. Looking back, I can say that God never left me to myself. He will be the one to bless me with my wedding. I believe it with all my heart. I will wait.
But waiting means more than that.
It means actively guarding myself and my girl from all temptation. It means actively seeking God and serving Him. It means praying everyday and asking for His help. It means working hard to earn and save money for my goal.
Waiting on God is an Active Process
It is not simply sitting down and doing nothing. Waiting on God means walking with Him and getting to know Him more and more. Because what is best for you is not found in your goals and ambitions – not even in God’s Will. What is best for you is God Himself. Knowing who He is. Knowing His Character.
Waiting is a Matter of Faith
I know that God provided for me before. I know God is providing for me now. I believe that God can provide for me in the future. Waiting is a matter of faith. If I didn’t believe God can provide for me then I would just enjoy the pleasures of marriage without a wedding! I could have let my appetite have it’s way.
But because I believe that God can provide for me and He knows the perfect time for my wedding, I will wait. These psalms are my encouragement – as David faced the prophecy of him being the next king, he did not force his way but waited 15 long years before God decided it was time for David to take over the throne of Israel.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” – Psalm 130:5
Kindness is becoming scarcer and scarcer as each day passes in our world today. It is a virtue that not everyone inherently possess. You’ll be amazed to know that some people are even asking the question “How can I be kind?”
Kindness is not a Personality
Branding someone as kind does not mean that the person is born that way. Doesn’t mean that you can’t be that way. It is not just a form of behavior.
Kindness is a lifestyle. And this lifestyle is made up of little choices. Choices that are made in surrender to the character of Christ everyday.
“Being kind is more important than being right.” – this is what my girl always tells me. And I believe her. Kindness is more important than being right. Why? Because kindness is a shard of grace in action. It is a sight to behold when it is in play.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” - 1 Corinthians 13:4
Kindness is a manifestation of love. Love is a manifestation of Christ.
Kindness is Most Powerful in the Proactive
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” - Luke 6:31
It doesn’t say ‘don’t do unto others’ because this verse takes on the proactive mindset. Christ tells us to DO. Do kindness. Be kind to others. Kindness in action is most powerful in the proactive. When it is especially not needed. It is then when the grace of God is most seen.
Kindness Goes Beyond Reasoning
It goes beyond understanding too. Because it can be practiced without it. You don’t need to reason out to yourself to be kind in order to be so. You don’t need to understand the situation in order for you to be so. Just be so.
A Natural Outflow
A fruit doesn’t have to be forced out by a tree so that it would come out. It’s a natural outflow of how healthy the tree is. It is also defined by what the tree is. A mango is produced by a mango tree. A coconut is produced by a coconut tree.
Being a fruit of the Spirit, Kindness should be seen in our lives. If our lives are healthily centered in Christ, it will naturally flow out of our actions.
“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” - Matthew 7:20
If the fruit is the product of the tree, kindness should only be a product of Christ likeness.
Kindness is a lifestyle rooted in the Character of Christ.
Have you ever felt like you’re really tired – but you’re not? Your body can still take it, but your emotions feel like it doesn’t want to go on. It’s as if you don’t understand yourself. You need to do something to be happy, and yet you don’t feel like doing it? This usually happens when you’ve burned yourself out. And you know, I’ve been there too.
There was a week in my life when I was going here and there, doing a lot of things for a lot of people and for my own. I felt exhausted. I also felt weird coz physically, I didn’t feel exhausted. But there was something in me that was excruciatingly tired. What is it?
Being tired goes further than physical. I realized that you feel most tired when your emotional tank is running empty in all aspects. Take note, I didn’t say EMPTY – I said RUNNING EMPTY. When your car is empty, it’s alright. Just go stop using it and put some gas to make it work again. BUT when your car is RUNNING EMPTY, not very soon, it will incur some serious damage.
Running an empty emotional tank with work, relationships, and your spiritual walk with God is one of the worst things that can happen to you.
Where’s the Gas Station?
How to overcome emotional exhaustion is not easy. You don’t need rest. And most people think that they just need to rest physically in order to overcome this. No, that’s not gonna work. You need a different source of gas to fill up your emotional tank. But the first step is – get pulled towards the gas station.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
Obviously Jesus talks about the solution when you’re tired – spiritually. We are first and foremost spiritual beings. Every human culture in this planet believes in another world beyond ours and a higher being. We are spiritual beings because that is our design and that is the reality of our existence.
Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – notice He doesn’t say get some rest. He says for us to take his yoke! A yoke is not for resting. It is a thing used for work – for oxes in the field. To plow the soil and make it ready for planting. It is a tool for the younger ox to be guided by the wiser, more experienced one.
Real rest does not mean to take a break from all your work and relax. It’s more than that. It means to align with God. You need to change your perspective, renew your mind, realize that there are things beyond this world. Know that we only have but one purpose in our lives – to glorify God.
You don’t need to do a lot of things. You don’t need to be mindful of the entire world. You just need to know what your purpose is and live it out. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – the world will tell you differently. Living for Christ means that you walk with Him and His laws and commands. His statutes are designed for life and freedom. If you don’t live by His laws, you will live by another one – it is inevitable.
“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” – Psalm 119:45
“Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 18:5
Why are You Tired?
Is it because you have put on the yoke of the world?
Is it because you have turned from the freedom of Christ and went after the ‘freedom’ of the world?
Is it because you have lost sight of your purpose and set your heart on other goals?
What is it that makes you tired?
Put on the yoke of Christ. Align yourself with His truths and your soul will be rested. Your emotions will come alive and you will find real freedom.
You must have already encountered a sin in your life where you felt the weakest? Something you don’t want to get involved into but you can’t seem to get out from its grips? Be encouraged brother/sister in Christ, you are not alone.
Paul says in Romans 7 verse 15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And continues on in verse 18 saying, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
Special thanks to Charles Stanley who continues to inspire me in his book “Winning the War Within”
One of the chapters talked about the root of evil. As Christians, we know there are different roots for the varying natures of sin. There is pride, selfishness, greed, ungodliness and the list goes on. In this book, Mr. Stanley tells us that having the wrong source of significance or security can be a cause of the cycle of your sin and mine.
Let’s start by reflecting what sin has a cycle in your life. For exemplifying purposes, let’s say the lack of self-control in the words you say. You’re the type who when hurt, tells your offender his/her faults on why you did a particular thing (tosses blame). Or you may be the one who raises his/her voice in order to prove a point to tell a person you’re certain about something and you’re right about it; Without consideration whether you’re hurting others.
In my previous article, I explained why your so-called personality is not an excuse for this behavior. Nothing is an excuse for our choice to act the way we do. But going deeper, have you ever asked yourself why? Is it because in your household, this was how anger was dealt? Or may it be because you feel more superior (smart, good) each time you win an argument?
The point is you fall into the same sin over and over again because you have the wrong concept of where your source of security and significance should be. We tend to create our own ‘world of fear’ where we get so conscious of what people will think or say about us when _____. In our example, your lack self-control of what words to say when you fear someone’s getting ahead in your particular niche, when he/she could not give you what you want and when things don’t turn out as you have wanted it.
Tonight, think about this sin and instead of feeling guilty, resolve to pull-out its roots from your heart. Charles Stanley posed a few questions to renew our mind with whom our true security and significance rests:
- Who is ultimately in control of all that goes on in the world today?
- Who sent His Son to die for you?
- Who promised He would never leave you?
- Who has given you eternal identity based upon His work?
- With whom, then, does your true security rest?