Sanctuary

(Meditating on Psalm 84)

How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
(Psalm 84:1-2)

One of the many things that I love about our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, is its offering of a 24/7 sanctuary. That is, a sanctuary for the weary soul and the sick body.

All over the country, there are outreach stations, pastoral houses and fasting houses where one could take refuge. These are not towering cathedrals, no, they are far from such. In fact, some outreach stations could be so bare with only curtains for walls, but these could be havens for anyone looking for rest, both for the soul and the flesh.

In these houses, the workers of the Lord’s vineyard praise and worship night and day, with fasting and prayers. Their soulful singing and worship invite the glory of the Lord, hence, though the place is not built with marble and hardwood or gilded columns, God’s anointing descends and imbues the worshipers with power from on high.

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah 
(v. 4)

I was one who ran to God’s sanctuary often. When my body was so sick and couldn’t seem to find the way to heal, I ran to this sanctuary. In fact, our whole family lived there for a season, in Pampanga Fasting House. I found great comfort in plunging myself at the feet of Jesus in His sanctuary, completely yielding myself to His mercy. I believed in His existence. I believed He sees and knows and moves among the children of men. I believed He heals. I had to believe and I did, with all my being. That’s why one afternoon when I thought I was breathing my last, I signalled for the one caring for me to call for the prayer warriors who were praying and fasting to pray for me. And even when I knew it could be my last breath, I was believing and surrendering, and He proved to me that He is real and true, faithful and unfailing.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 
(v. 5)

They go from strength to strength… (v. 7)

One can trust God in His sanctuary which is filled with His anointing and power. One can run into this place, not to gaze at the magnificent paintings and murals on the ceilings and walls for these are only found in cathedrals and basilicas, but to find solace for the soul and healing for the body.

This is what sanctuary really means.

It was where Sis. Dina and her dying daughter ran to when the doctors in the hospital could no longer do anything for Janna. They ran to the fasting house in Sauyo, Novaliches in Quezon City where praying and fasting sisters awaited them. And Sis. Dina, the fraught mother, found solace to her soul, and Janna found healing to her body.

When Sis. Sarah was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and she was told by the doctor that only surgery could prolong her life, she refused it but instead travelled to the same fasting house to find strength and solace there. And when her tumor broke open while she was travelling in public transport and blood leaked out of her blouse, she was determined to reach God’s sanctuary. And she arrived there where sisters in Christ ministered to her.

Like what I did in 2004 when I lived in Pampanga Fasting House, comforted day and night by constant praising and strengthened by prayers with fasting, so did Sis. Sarah. She lived in God’s sanctuary until the day the Lord brought down His healing upon her, and she rose up from her sick bed.

And there are still many who run to God’s sanctuary to take refuge there, at any time of day or night. This is declared in their testimonies. I can’t possibly mention each one.

God is real and He makes known His power among men. The kingdom of God has come near to [us] (Luke 10:9). It is manifested through His amazing testimonies.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(v. 11)

Read in full the testimonies mentioned above:

To read more of God’s amazing testimonies, click here.

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

Journey with Jesus,

A Heart Check

(Meditating on Psalm 81)

Sing aloud to God our strength;
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute. 

For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob. 
(Psalm 81:1,2,4)

This, also, is the statute of our Church: to sing praises and worship God not only during worship service when the congregation gathers, but also in our own homes, in the morning and in the evening. Those who do this fervently with a willing spirit are blessed beyond their hearts’ desires, specially with a stronger faith in God.

But there are those who neglect to praise and worship and their focus was diverted to the things of the world: agendas, schedules, plans, and passions with other things like careers, hobbies, and other pursuits that may veer one away from deep communion with God. The more time spent with our pursuits, the less time we give in seeking God. Even in the time of private praise and worship, one may not be spiritually present; one’s mind and heart may be upon the to-do lists, or other exciting projects that await.

When our affections and passions (am I being redundant?) are diverted from the living God to the things of this world, aren’t we loving, adoring, and worshiping them instead? Isn’t this a form of idolatry? God admonished His people Israel:

There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god. 
(v. 9)

I’ve heard testimonies in Church that they got so engrossed with work or flourishing businesses that they began to neglect to praise and worship God with all their beings. They had forsaken the Spirit’s admonition. They could no longer listen to Him for their hearts had been captured by their passions or given away to their work’s demands. Until one day, they found they no longer walked in the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit had left.

But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.
 (vv. 11-12, emphasis added)

To be given up by God is a most dreadful thing to happen.

Where do are our affections lie? Do we praise God with our lips but our hearts are far from Him? Do we worship in vain? Or do we delight in Him more than anything in this world? It is good to always have a heart check.

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.

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.
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The Practice of Remembering God’s Wondrous Works

This photo courtesy of my friend Myriss Torres.

(Meditating on Psalm 78)

There is a spiritual practice that we could all benefit from. Both David and Asaph had shown it many times in the book of Psalms. I learned it in the Church where the Lord has put us. It is the practice of recalling God’s mighty deeds that He has wrought in His Church, among the brethren, and in our own lives. The other word for this is testifying.

Here in Psalm 78, Asaph once again contemplates on all the wondrous works of God that He has done in Israel. Line after line, he tells of the journeyings of God’s people and the many proofs of God’s faithfulness toward them.

In my own spiritual journey, I have found quiet contemplation on God’s mercies to be a very helpful tool in strengthening my faith and keeping my love for the Lord constantly burning. We can either shout out our testimonies in the pulpit, share them with the unsaved, meditate on them, or sing them out.

Yes, sing them out in our private worship time. In this way, they remain fresh in our minds and the overflow of thanksgiving to God happens easily. If you sometimes find it hard to concentrate in singing praises to God by singing songs you’ve learned, then sing that which naturally and spontaneously comes from your heart. Sing to Him with your own lyrics of love and thanksgiving. Sing to Him recalling all His tender mercies and marvelous deeds. In my case, I think back on the days that I was bound in bed, very sick and weak and to the point of death, and how He had mercifully raised me up from my sick bed and showered me with good things. It doesn’t take long before I would feel His touch and then I would be enveloped in His sweet, powerful presence.

Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. 
(Psalm 78:4)

Last Friday, I shared with you a brief retelling of the victorious Talipao (Mindanao) Peace Mission which God had wrought in JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY. Once again, the prayer warriors who had experienced the horrors of being in the constant presence of the Abu Sayyaf and the military assault that followed – a three-month ordeal – recalled how the Lord had delivered them mightily day and night.

How the high-powered guns and weapons of the Abu Sayyaf did not have power over their bodies.

How they would be down on their knees praising God as the bombs from the military planes bombarded the area.

How they would be running at night with the Abu Sayyaf in complete darkness, on the rugged mountains of Talipao, Jolo, Sulu, in danger of wild beasts and falling into deep ravines.

One memory after another, they recalled God’s mighty deeds, shouting out their praises and thanksgiving. Below I share more photos of the 12th Victorious Talipao Peace Mission Anniversary held on October 7 at the Amoranto Stadium, Quezon City, Philippines.

I would also like to share with you this amazing testimony of a brother in Christ that I wrote over at Minister of Mercy entitled Double Miracle. Now, some would be cynical about it and would refuse to believe. But if, through reading the Bible, you can believe in a God who is all powerful and works miracles, how can you not believe in His present-day miracles wrought in His Church and experienced by the redeemed? If you believe that God never changes – “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8) – then you must also believe that He still performs wondrous works and marvellous deeds to this day. To read testimony, click here.

Endnote: All JMCIM photos courtesy of Bro. Guetz Febrer.

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Inside the Enemy’s Camp {A Mission That’s Worth a Thousand Crusades}

(Meditating on Psalm 77)

We’re in Psalm 77 in our Journey Through the Psalms Friday, and how very timely to be discussing about it now that our Church, JESUS MIRACLE CRUSADE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY, had just celebrated the 12th Mindanao Peace Mission Anniversary last October 7.

This is all I could remember about it. I was resting comfortably on our new bed in our new townhouse watching the evening news. I caressed my bulging tummy; I was about 5 months pregnant with our first baby. I saw in the news how these emaciated prayer warriors together with their beloved pastor were battling and struggling against all the hardships they were in as their stay in the Abu Sayyaf camp was prolonged indefinitely. What little I can remember of it (because I didn’t really focus my attention, there were other things in my mind then that were more exciting – how selfish I had been!) was that, those Christian men were staying strong in their faith amidst all the perils around them. I remember thinking, “Why would anyone want to go to that hellish place?”

It would be three years later when my memory would be refreshed about that news, when I was brought to the feet of Jesus at JMCIM, dying and shaking from unexplainable fear. It would be months later, as we continued to serve the Lord and hope for His healing, that I learned that the Church where the Lord had mercifully brought us to was the one who bravely entered the Abu Sayyaf camp to pray for the 21 Sipadan hostages and help with their release.

Every year as the Church celebrated this victorious peace mission in Talipao, Jolo, Sulu in the island of Mindanao, I would hear about the amazing – A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! – testimonies of the 12 prayer warriors who had experienced the horrors of that place in the presence of the fierce Abu Sayyaf. Just a few weeks prior to JMCIM’s entrance to the camp, a Catholic priest, Fr. Gallardo, was captured by them. They extracted all his nails and plucked out his eyes before they brutally chopped off his head.

I cannot now write all the testimonies of God’s mighty deliverance during their three-month ordeal inside the enemy’s camp and the military assault that followed. How could Bible-wielding, weak and emaciated (from daily fasting up in the cruel mountains of Jolo, Sulu) Christian men escape the fierceness of the Abu Sayyaf and later on, the canons and bombs from military planes (for the government had declared an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf but they (Abu Sayyaf) insisted that the JMCIM Christians would stay close to them)?

I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted. 
(Psalm 77: 1-2)

The bombs would drop from the military planes, cutting off trees and spattering the earth. The Abu Sayyaf would be fleeing to wherever they could escape, but the faith-full Christian men, always anticipating God’s mighty deliverance, would be on their knees, arms raised up to heaven, yielding their bodies to God’s protection WHICH.NEVER.FAILED. (Sobbing now).

And God delivered them triumphantly, all thirteen of them. They were not hurt by the Abu Sayyaf nor the bombs and canons of the military assault. HALLELUIAH!

But the beloved pastor suffered much. Due to prolonged fasting (he had fasted 40 days and 40 nights before entering the Abu Sayyaf camp and continued it during much of their stay in the mountains), his body weakened so much that he could hardly walk and talk. He is still recovering until now. I remember the apostle Paul’s words: I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17).

As the years passed and the Church continued to wait for the beloved pastor’s full recovery and as it travailed still in heartbreaking trials (the passing away of the beloved assistant pastor, Lina C. Almeda, among other trials of faith), some despaired (I was one of them) if the Lord’s eyes and miracles were still on His Church, JMCIM. But we were wrong in even letting that thought enter the mind. For God again showed His amazing miracles – healings, lives changed, deliverance – and let His powerful presence felt in the congregation every worship service.

I read Asaph’s laments and I can imagine the beloved pastor (and the beloved brethren) awake in the night, meditating on God and His wondrous works.

You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah (vv. 4-9)

I hold these precious words close to my heart. They serve as lamp in the dark, wisdom in weakness and confusion.

Last Sunday, October 7, the whole Church gathered together again to remember God’s goodness and celebrate His mighty deeds that He has shown. Once again, brethren, specially the prayer warriors of the victorious Talipao peace mission, shouted out their praise, testimonies, and celebratory messages in the pulpit. Human strength is not enough to shout out God’s wondrous works to the ends of the earth.

And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples. 
(vv. 10-14)

Below, I share with you photos of this blessed event. I pray these will be a blessing to you.

Congregational singing – joyful. These were those on the grounds.

The beloved brethren with their umbrellas to fend off the heat of the sun.

The Children’s Choir

Youngsters in worship (Children’s Choir)

The Adults’ Choir (brothers’ side)

Youth and Singles’ Choirs combined. Those on their knees were being filled by the Holy Spirit.

The musicians

A sister worshiping.

Beloved workers in the vineyard of the Lord (preachers, prayer warriors, pastoral workers).

The Jesus Finest Generation Choir

Up close

Hands in praise

The beloved JMCIM mimers

The Adults’ Choir (sisters’ side)

Our dearly beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde E. Almeda in the pulpit. He was in the verge of tears remembering how God had mightily delivered him and the 12 prayer warriors.

The altar call

Endnotes:

  • I thank beloved Bro. Edu Cortez of ExtremeDetails for providing the beautiful photos. God bless you so much more, Bro. Edu! (Lord willing, I hope to get some photography lessons from you in the coming days :)).
  • I was blessed to have browsed the manuscript of the book written about the Talipao peace mission by an American (CIA) who had studied and followed through the whole event. I hope and pray that it will be published soon.
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It’s All I Really Want to Do

(Meditating on Psalm 75)

I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. (Psalm 75:9)

I sit on our patio on a dark, chilly night. The evening breeze fans my tired body and I wish I brought a wrap with me. I sit long and silent. Alone after the enemy had attacked again, this time bringing me down to the ground, wreaking havoc to my emotional balance and giving me more than a pity party. I had stopped wondering why challenges and painful trials come and go. I’ve become used to them. I have learned that these are all part of the life of a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. But what I just realized now is the fact that we can never really achieve perfection in our life on earth. I mean, perfection in our service to God and others.

We may aim for it: a perfect day that bears the Spirit’s fruit, giving glory to God in all we do. But more often than we would like it to be, it doesn’t happen that way. Challenges and trials come to test our patience and endurance, and we succumb to them and fail miserably, our human nature gaining the upper hand.

So, I think of all these in the aftermath of yet another storm in my life, and I realize that the pain comes from my not wanting to surrender fully to God’s tests and refining. I am resisting God’s plan behind the difficulties because I don’t want to suffer any longer. Because I am thinking and believing that I don’t deserve any more of this. But I am wrong. Whatever comes, I must bow down low before God – no complaints, no discontent, no dismay, no resentments. Just a humble yielding to Him. There is a release in that.

When I choose the proper time,
I will judge uprightly. 
(v. 2)

Do not lift up your horn on high;
Do not speak with a stiff neck. 
(v. 5)

Though my whole being pulsates pain and weariness, I want to sing and give glory to Him. This is really all I want to do. For even though there are trials, His goodness is seen in my life.

And so I sing and raise my hands. The sky is becoming deeper and deeper blue. The leaves rustle.

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near. 
(v. 1)

(Photo courtesy of my friend Perla Notario Frisberg).
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