“Unbreakable” Women: Hit by a jeepney, fell on a steel conveyor, not a bone broken

 

What do these two ladies have in common?

Aiza (right) was recently hit by a wayward jeepney while walking on a sidewalk on her way to work.

Mommy Rose was about to board a plane on a mission trip to Myanmar when she slipped and fell hard face-down on a luggage conveyor at the airport.

Yet, here they are now, actively, busily, happily serving in church, and not one of their bones were broken.

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Why? How?

They serve the God of miracles. And they are part of a community where miracles are happening in people’s lives. Small miracles, big miracles, the most awesome of which are the lives of people being changed. Forever.

“With man this is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God”. – Jesus (Mark 10:27)

 

If you happen to be near Fairview, Quezon City in the Philippines, visit them on Sundays at Victory Churches of Asia, 2nd Floor, Robinsons-Novaliches, Quirino Highway in front of SM Fairview.

 

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Puppy Whisperer

Dogs have always been a beloved part of my family ever since I could remember. There was a time I felt I should’ve been THE original dog whisperer, not Cesar Milan. Through the years, I have somehow become an expert on dog behaviour.

I know why a dog would react in a certain way. I know that whenever they “bow” in front of humans, stretching their front paws and lowering their head, they are actually greeting you with respect. I know that when a dog approaches me in a certain way, it wants to be cuddled and stroked. I know when they’re happy or jealous or irritated or hungry or just plain thirsty.

With puppies, however, you have to deal with their preconceived notions. Yes, some puppies have those embedded weird ideas about humans.

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I love cuddling a puppy in my arms like a baby, massaging and caressing their stomachs, which most puppies love. Stretched out in my arms, some puppies just learn to relax and abandon all cares, enjoying the sweet moment and loving every second of it.

There are some puppies, however, who behave like scared cats the moment you lift them from the ground. You try to get them to relax in your arms, mumbling dog endearments, rubbing their stomachs, but to no avail. They would squirm, cry out, struggle, and fight to be free from your grasp, even attempt to jump to the ground. For some reason, they just couldn’t trust you.

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Yet, they come to you for food. They know they need you whenever they’re hungry. To them, you are important because you feed them. But that’s as far as they would allow you to get near them.

They see you as a food source. A food source and nothing else.

The trusting puppies, however, would much rather stay in the comfort of your arms forever. When you lay them down, they would beg for more. They are thankful for the food you give them, but they would much rather spend a few more minutes with you in your arms. They light up whenever they see you, and sometimes you could literally see the love in their eyes.

Some humans are like puppies… in the way they approach God.

The scared puppy humans want to keep some sort of religion in their lives, going to church every Sunday, yet keeping God at a distance far enough for Him not to “see” inside the core of their being. Doing religious duties, yet denying the inner voice by which He calls them. Maintaining a form of godliness, yet keeping God at a “safe” distance, far enough not to be able to interfere with their actions, or thoughts, or habits, or prejudices, or decisions, or opinions.

Seeing God as a food source.

As a last resort for emergencies. As a fountain of favor and blessings and protection for their loved ones. The cloak of religion as a security blanket. As a ticket to heaven.

The scared puppy humans struggle and fight hard and wiggle their way out of God’s hands to avoid the things they fear the most—being branded as a religious fanatic, being thought of as “weird”, being counted among hypocrites, worrying about their reputation, trying to maintain a cool image among people they admire, and lots of other things.

They never realize that God longs to hold them in His arms, like a mother hen gathers its chicks under its wings:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing”. – Jesus (Matthew 23:37)

More often than not, religious puppies, I mean humans, want to be able to keep their pet sins. They see God as a “killjoy” who is bent on keeping them from being happy.

We used to keep our puppies in a dog house with wide cage bars, and to keep the puppies from slipping out, we placed steel fence material over the walls (we won’t ever do this again!). There was one puppy (the scared puppy type) who got his head stuck in one of the small metal openings, and he was crying his lungs out. His body literally trembling and his eyes filled with terror, he never for a moment closed his mouth, keeping it wide open and letting out this loud, piercing, desperately terrified cry for help. He never responded to his mother’s reassuring kisses, or to my soothing caresses on his head. He just went on and on and on crying and wailing louder by the minute.

But all he had to do was close his mouth, relax, and he would be free.

After several hours, of course, he finally got really tired enough to close his mouth and never realized it was his wailing that kept him from freedom.

So this is how scared puppy humans tend to hang on to their “pet sins”. They would not, could not ever give them up, never knowing it’s keeping them from freedom.

At the point where they become too tired to keep up and fight on their own, just like that puppy, that’s when they realize they needed God – and not just as a food source. At the end of their rope, that’s when the scared puppies get to discover the secret that only trusting “puppies” knew.

That being in His Presence, wrapped in His arms, is the single most wonderful, most meaningful, life-changing, awesome moment worth pursuing everyday.

 

“O taste and see that the Lord is good…” – Psalm 34:8a

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment 🙂

Planet-Viewing in an Observatory Hotel

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Credits: Sevensuiteshotel.com

Some time ago, my husband had to attend a training in Antipolo, a hilly semi-rural area a few hours from Manila, and we decided to stay at a boutique hotel that houses a space observatory on the rooftop. It was said to have one of only four existing extremely sharp high-resolution telescopes in the Philippines.

I found myself enjoying every minute of our stay, probably because when hubby was out attending to business, I got to do my dream job—writing on my laptop in my pajamas on a terrace overlooking verdant hills, surrounded by greenery in the cool crisp mountain air. The nearest building was a restaurant just a short walk away where my husband and I had our dinners.

On the second night, we decided to go to the rooftop and check out the observatory. A local scientist/ astronomer was there as our “space guide” to help us with an enormous ultra-sensitive telescope.

High up Antipolo’s hills, the stars were truly a sight to behold. We saw one planet up close—I’ve actually forgotten what it was—could be Venus. But when the scientist showed me Saturn, I was totally astounded. The only thing I could think of was, “Oh my God, it’s real!!”. Seeing the planet and the rings, not in a textbook or on a website but in its actual reality, half of it lit by the sun—it just felt surreal. It was utterly beautiful.

Seeing things like these kind of shakes your perspective a little. Especially when you’ve been preoccupied with petty little things in your very small part of the world.

The same kind of feeling seizes astronauts when they view earth from space. That feeling of awe and wonder when you realize how small your world is in the grand scheme of things.

Imagine what it would be like seeing the universe through the Hubble telescope, which is said to be the most highly advanced satellite telescope ever. Images gathered by the Hubble show myriads of galaxies and constellations in an ever-expanding universe.

This tells us one thing—we are but a speck of dust in a boundless, limitless cosmos. Even with the most powerful lenses, scientists have yet to see the edge of the universe, if it even has one. A tiny speck of dust in a huge plethora of stars through unending light-years of space, billions and billions of them, too many to be numerically documented. We seem to be just a tiny speck of dust in a tiny dot which is our solar system, which is but a tiny dot in our galaxy, which is but just one among billions and billions.

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Hubble telescope image from Los Angeles Times

The sheer vastness of space could just make one feel insignificant. Irrelevant. Unimportant…

Yet here’s the mind-blowing part: The One who created all that is the same One who created you and me. And He considers you important and precious enough to sacrifice and die for.

Just think about it. To Him, you are valuable enough that He was willing to leave heaven for a while, take on the form of a human, suffer mockings and torture at the hands of the very people He came for and be nailed to death so He could get His message of love, freedom, and victory to you. You—a minute particle in the grand design of creation.

The psalmist even wrote,

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4)

Biblical history shows God’s obsession with reaching out to man despite his stubborn insistence on following his own errant ways. In God’s Book, man is the crown of His creation, His beloved, the apple of His eye whom He wants to be with forever.

Yet our puny mindsets dictate our belief that He couldn’t possibly love us individually. Our clouded vision thinks He could probably love all of us as a whole—humanity in a general sense, just as a rockstar could “love” his audience or a politician could “love” the poor. And even if He could love us individually, our feeble thinking believes He couldn’t possibly pay attention to all of us at the same time.

We mistakenly ascribe human qualities and limitations to an eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, Almighty God.

And this is where we begin to go wayward in our thinking. If you find it hard to believe that He knows everything about you and loves you enough to die for you, just consider the works of His hands. Have you ever known anything or anyone else capable of creating such majesty, such awesome wonders with such precision and wisdom?

"You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.4Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.5You hem me in behind and before,and you lay your hand upon me. 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain (Psalm 139:1-6)

“Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered…” – Jesus (Matthew 10:30)

If He could create billions and billions of clusters of galaxies in a never-ending space, and fill the earth with a multitude of awe-inspiring creation, how hard could it be for Him to pay attention to you and love you every single moment?

 

Question: Has there ever been a time when you found it hard to reconcile the awesome majesty of space and creation, and how the Creator feels about you? Please leave a comment 🙂

Revisiting the AlDub Craze

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Credits: AlDub FB (@aldenandyayadub)

Our Obsession with “Kilig”

Kilig (noun): – the overwhelming thrill and excitement felt by someone who is in love or under a strong infatuation, caused by a word, action, or mere presence of the object of love or infatuation. It is characterized by various weird physical reactions such as smiling from ear to ear, laughing uncontrollably, giggling, blushing, hunching one’s shoulders, perspiring (even in a cold environment), cold hands and feet, a strong heartbeat, shaking, or other unexplainable actions. (My own personal definition 🙂 

The peak of the rare social phenomenon in the Philippines known as AlDub happened in the second half of 2015. After almost two years, many are now asking – is the magic over too soon?

One thing’s for sure—the accidental love team of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza will forever go down in history as a marketing miracle, a rare advertizing goldrush event where millions of passionate fans broke social media records, movie ticket sales and tv viewership stats. This duo had remarkably attained many “firsts” in the world of Philippine entertainment and social media. All these happened within the loveteam’s first six months–a real feat indeed.

Marketing experts and media analysts have come up with various explanations about the “Secret Formula” – that magic ingredient that caused everyone from A, B, C and onward down the line in the entire viewership spectrum to stay glued on their TV screens or on YouTube at the height of this “madness”.

But that was in 2015. What’s going on with it now? We do suppose their TV producers or directors are hell-bent on re-creating that magic formula, whatever it may be, and realizing it is not as easy as it seems. An inherent nature of this “magic formula” seems to be spontaneity, an element of “realness,” a real tugging at the heart that couldn’t be summoned merely by a script or tv production.

That “secret ingredient” is what the Philippines calls “kilig”—a Filipino word that has no direct English translation.

Imagine an entire population, or what is known as the “AlDub Nation”, collectively feeling that exact same sensation, although vicariously, at the same time. The result is a widespread phenomenon never before seen on Philippine television or even in the international social media.

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Credits: AlDub FB (@aldenandyayadub)

The AlDub craze, if anything, has demonstrated something in “kilig” that people young and old, whether they be poor, unschooled street laborers, or highly skilled intellectual professionals, married or single, are just drawn to.

There is something in the mere prospect of true, unadulterated pure love that we seem to desperately want to be a part of.

We want to live in the world of this love unfolding before our very eyes, although vicariously through Alden and Maine.

Our primal hunger for love is the real reason why we do most of the things we do. It explains a lot of what we see on social media, for instance—the desire to be liked and admired and accepted. The desire to feel important and treasured. It is such an intrinsic part of you and me, as if we’ve been actually designed for it and it’s a major part of our DNA or genetic make-up. And to be honest about it, of course, we are talking about something beyond just romantic love.

This is why abandoned children usually grow up feeling incomplete. This is why jilted lovers harbor deep emotional wounds, sometimes for years. This is why teen-aged girls give up their virginity way ahead of time. This is why people turn to drugs and alcohol to cover up the emptiness from not being loved, or at least, not being loved as much as they desire to be loved.

And you know what, all of it would not even begin to make sense…. unless you believe that there’s a God who created everything in the universe including you, and that He purposely designed you for love. For His love.

This is why we are forever drawn to love or the prospect of true love. This is why nothing in this world could ever remove that emptiness or unfulfilment or discontent deep down that we keep trying to cover up with busyness, or money, or fame, or material things, or a career, or the love and admiration of other people, or adventure, or power, or illicit sex, or influence, or achievements, or drugs, or beer, or a nightlife, or social happenings, or any form of distraction, or any form of excitement… and the list goes on and on.

God created and designed you for love. For His love. And unless you believe and respond to His love, there would always be something missing in your life, no matter how far you think you’ve come.

God doesn’t want to be your religious icon or an object of religion. He doesn’t want to be your Santa Claus or your genie whom you merely go to for your wishes. He doesn’t want to be your goodluck charm or your talisman to protect you from bad luck. He doesn’t want you to go to Him merely as an emergency recourse in times of trouble. He doesn’t want you mentioning His Name merely for a semblance of morality or to make you look good. He doesn’t want you to see Him merely as your ticket to heaven.

He wants your heart. He wants you to know Him. He wants to be in your life. He wants to have a relationship with you. For real.

Question: Has your search for love ever influenced your actions or decisions? In what way? Please leave a comment. 🙂

Radically Changed

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She was a man trapped in a woman’s body.

Or at least that’s what Leng had believed for the past 50 years. She used to take pride in being a toughie, thinking it was her masculinity and her strong and unrelenting personality that got her through most of life’s challenges.

That was until when, at the age of 50, she encountered something that radically changed her life. Or rather, she encountered Someone.

Her world was changed the day she encountered Jesus Christ and realized He is not just the religious figure she had revered since childhood, but a very real Presence, an all-consuming fire that revolutionized her entire being. For the first time in her life, she desired nothing more than knowing Him, following His lead, and experiencing His love.

After so many years of playing it tough, her rock-hard psychological defenses finally broke down in the face of this awesome reality. The sheer freedom of finally knowing the truth and knowing Jesus Himself was more wonderful than anything she could imagine. Soon, one after the other, changes were happening in her attitude, emotions, and the way she looks at life.

For one thing, she no longer desired sexual relationships with the same sex. Understandably, at first this didn’t go well with her long-time girlfriend and companion with whom she had raised a son. For Leng, however, the woman she had lived with for so long together with their son would always be her family and home. She would always be to her a dear sister and bestfriend, and mother of her son.

Despite her girlfriend’s initial displeasure, however, it didn’t take long and she was soon convinced to come to church with Leng. Together with their son, they now attend services at Victory Churches of Asia in Quezon City, Philippines every Sunday like a regular family.

The profound change in Leng’s life—the transformation from a defensive, tough-talking, bitter and usually angry façade—left no doubt to its authenticity. Physically, however, she still prefers her usual get-up—pants, leather jacket, sneakers, and closely cropped hair. It’s not that easy to get rid of half a century’s fashion habits. She couldn’t bring herself to wear a dress either. While she is aware of occasional looks of disapproval from some “religious” Christians, she is happy to find in God’s Word that

“People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

Still, there are times when she would ask God—“Why am I this way?” meaning why does she still prefer to dress up like a man. And the answer soon became apparent.

The sense of God’s overwhelming love compels Leng to share Jesus to everybody and anybody she meets—in the office, on the streets, and everywhere she goes. And that’s when she finally understood. The way she looked gave her some sort of “access” and approachability to people whom other Christians would normally find hard to connect with. It was easy for her to reach out to both men and women and people who consider themselves of the third (and fourth) sex. She reveled in the thought that even her appearance had a purpose for His cause.

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A few weeks ago, she got to her office at City Hall and found an old man slumped motionless on her desk. She asked around and learned that the old man had been standing in line in one of the cityhall’s transaction windows and could have suffered a stroke. So the office staff took him to where the airconditioner was a lot cooler—in Leng’s office—and had him sit on her chair.

For Leng, it was an opportunity she couldn’t miss. She talked to the old man, telling him of Jesus’ love and power to heal. She touched his arms and found that he couldn’t even raise them. His fingers were twisted and gnarled and very stiff, and he was just totally weak.

Leng knew that just as Jesus healed a lot of people while He was on earth 2,000 years ago, He is still actively doing so now—through the hands of people like her who believe and have a living relationship with Him, who take Him at His word, who are willing to step out despite what other people might think. Thus, in obedience to Jesus who said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, drive out demons,” Leng declared healing for the old man in His Name.

Almost immediately, the man was able to raise his arms straight up, his fingers softened and were able to move, and strength began to return to his body. Overwhelmed with joy, the man reached out for Leng’s hands and almost wanted to kneel before her. Leng recalled reading from the Bible about the exact same reaction from a lame man whom the apostle Peter had healed. Peter had said,

Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see”. (Acts 3:12-16)

Leng patiently explained to the old man, “It wasn’t me. It was Jesus”.

Question: Have you ever met a person whose life had been radically changed from inside out? Please leave a comment. 🙂

Woman Proves Jesus Still Heals the Sick Today

When Mommy Ofel went back to her home province last year after a long time of not seeing her children, things were never the same. Gone were the feelings of hurt and bitterness, and all she ever wanted was to share her new life with her children.

Mommy Ofel is 68 years old and lived in Manila a long time before deciding to pay her family in the province a visit. Her relatives who reunited with her marvelled at the fact that there seemed to be something different about her—a new attitude, an air of peace and calm, an inner joy.

When Mommy Ofel learned that her brother suffered a stroke and was at the ICU of the provincial hospital, she rushed to take care of him. The sight of him with all kinds of tubes and machines supporting his weak body was just too much. But instead of feeling discouraged, somehow Mommy Ofel felt unfathomable hope. She knew things were different now, and she has that one important thing she hadn’t known before. Or better yet, she has come to know Him—Jesus, the reason for the joy deep inside her that nothing else, not even sickness, could break.

It was Jesus who changed her life, took away her emptiness and emotional baggages, and who said these words: “…these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover…” (Mark 16:17-18)

The provincial hospital was the largest in the entire region but numerous patients occupied the ICU, and their relatives were crammed together in a waiting area where Mommy Ofel sat waiting. The stench of near-death and the atmosphere of hopelessness was heavy in the room, but she was more bothered by the negativity and vulgarity of the conversations around her. Whenever she mentioned God, they would react with sarcasm and irreverent humor.

Among the patients in that ward, her brother seemed to have the worst of conditions. Still, she would place her hands on him everyday, praying in faith, believing that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross brought healing to everyone who truly believes—healing in the mind, emotions, and the body. In her spirit, she bound the evil that brought this sickness upon her brother. She made a stand and used her authority as a child of the King of Kings. And in the powerful Name of Jesus, the Name by which the entire universe was created, the Name to which every force or sickness or disease must bow down, she claimed healing for her brother.

Soon, the people in the waiting room witnessed how, one by one, the tubes and medical gadgets were being removed by the doctors from Mommy Ofel’s brother. Gradually, all his vitals were improving and to their surprise, he recovered faster than any other patient in the ward. Before long, he was up and moving about like nothing happened.

Seeing this miracle right before their eyes, the relatives of the patient next to hers asked that she pray for their patient, too. Mommy Ofel obliged, supernaturally feeling Jesus’ compassion for the person who in the natural sense was but a complete stranger. There were no magic words, no hocus-pocus. It was pure unadulterated faith in the One who, while He walked on this earth, spent as much time as He could healing people of physical, emotional and spiritual sicknesses. And knowing Him enough to believe that He still wants to do the same things today. Through people who, as He said, truly believe.

The same thing happened. That patient recovered faster than the doctors could believe what they were seeing.

Mommy Ofel is old, lived in a poor community and works as a laundry woman. If you were an advertising or promotions manager, you wouldn’t choose someone like her to show your product to the world. She would be the last person anyone would choose for an endorsement or a publicity campaign.

Yet, the Creator of the entire Universe, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, does not think like we do. In fact, Jesus had prayed, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! (Matthew 11:25)

And this story did not end there. The people at the hospital waiting room—those who thought they were pretty cool bad-mouthing those who believed in God—suddenly lost their cynicism and asked Mommy Ofel to pray for their patient, too. And of course, Mommy Ofel was just too happy to oblige.

Question: Do you believe that Jesus still heals the sick today through people like Mommy Ofel? Please leave a comment. 🙂

Care Groups: Why You Need to be in One

Touching lives one heart at a time, changing the world one life at a time

What could be more fun and fulfilling than time spent in intimate conversation with a small group of friends about the One you love?

That’s why I love care groups. I believe everyone needs to belong to a care group at some point in his life.

Most Christian churches have care groups which consist of small circles of people of the same sex and age group who bond together on a regular basis and help one another reach their God-given destiny. This is a far cry from most “emotional support groups” or gangs that influence you to get drunk or get wasted and ultimately cause you to sink further down the hole of depression and emptiness. Care groups are different. And believe me, you need something like this in your life. I know I need this.

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I’m blessed to be a care group (CG) leader of a group of women who help one another in their personal adventures with God, sharing in the joys and triumphs of overcoming spiritual battles, the amazing insights and realizations, the precious lessons of life, and the sheer joy of revelation upon revelation of God’s amazing love as proven through actual experience time and time again. This, and a whole lot more, are the stuff that make care groups something to really look forward to each week, or each month, depending on the schedule.

Our CG meetings often churn out such precious nuggets of wisdom borne from experience that I’ve decided to write down each lesson as far as I could remember. Yes, I may be the leader of my group, but I do learn a lot from my CG members. In fact, I learn a lot more from them than they do from me.

Care groups push you out of a self-centered existence into a life meant for others.

So here’s my partial list of IGCG, or Insights I’ve Gained from my Care Group:

  • The power of praying for one another. I’ve witnessed how committed group members often make the happy discovery that praying for one another can be very powerful, as God rewards those who look out for others instead of focusing too much on their own needs. Care groups push you out of a self-centered existence into a life meant for others.
  • Faith can move mountains and cause floods to recede. The previous week was marked with torrential downpours that caused flooding in many areas. Two my CG members actually saw the flood instantly recede from their homes when they prayed and stretched forth their hands at the rising water.

Your personal struggles are not always about you. They’re about the people who will be blessed through you. That is the reason why every struggle is worth fighting for.

This reminded me of a the time when a storm hit a few years back, and I stood in our porch and stretched forth my hand towards my mother’s house nextdoor and prayed for her protection. The next day, I saw on Facebook how the strong winds had felled down the largest, sturdiest trees in our village, along with the roofs of some houses, while not even a single tree or plant in my mother’s yard had been affected. Amazing.

  • You can measure one’s spiritual temperature by his commitment to the care group. Whenever love gets cold, one could think of a hundred reasons and a million excuses not to come to the CG meeting.
  • Jesus meant for us to be motivated by compassion whenever we pray for healing to others. Because one could easily do that as an automatic gesture—without looking into the person’s eyes and actually feeling their need. This often happens when, for instance, a friend would ask you to pray long-distance, via text or private message, for the brother of her boss’ sister’s neighbor. Or for the mother of a classmate’s uncle’s cousin.

As much as possible, pray for healing in person and, whenever possible, go with a small group of other believers. The latter should prevent the possibility of people worshipping you as a superstar healer because they saw you lay your hand on the sick and he got healed. I’ve got a lot more to share about this, which deserves another blog post.

  • The gift of giving. I’ve always thought I had the gift of giving, just because I’ve always enjoyed giving to others and feeding hungry people. Lately, I realized I may not have that gift after all. That’s because I’ve seen people who are naturally inclined to give to others in need despite the fact that they had almost nothing. I mean, these people I am talking about do not even have enough money for their own needs. And yet, they give naturally—like it was second nature to them, willingly, automatically, without second thoughts. Now, these people obviously have that gift. I do not.
  • Working for the Kingdom can make you a constant target of the enemy.You don’t know how many times we’ve all battled against pains and sicknesses—all kinds of obstacles and hindrances that the enemy throws at you to cause you to become discouraged, doubtful, and depressed. Oftentimes, the enemy uses your loved ones and family members and emotional weaknesses to throw you off guard. These are things meant to delay or stop anything you might be doing for the Kingdom. But the good thing is that we are not unaware of the enemy’s schemes, and we possess the POWER to overcome them by faith. Being in a caregroup is like being in a special tactical warriors’ team. As Jesus said, there is POWER in our agreement and collective fight. A united stand unleashes heaven’s power against the powers of darkness.

Most young people are teachable and open. Thus, they are able to grasp more spiritual truths than most adults can.

These ones I’ve learned from having care groups composed of newbies and young people:

  • Being a discipler is pretty much like taking care of a plant from the moment you sowed a seed. It takes a lot of patience, it takes much time waiting for it to finally sprout some leaves, and the diligence to regularly nourish it with water, sunlight and nutrients. And did I say it takes patience, patience, patience…

Yes, there are times in a CG leader’s life when you feel like nothing’s happening, like all your efforts are just one big waste of time. But more often than not, your CG could surprise you when you least expect it—you would hear their testimonies, their exploits with the Lord. And just like a mother with her children, you would be able to see with your own eyes how they’ve grown in their faith. And it would all be worth it.

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And then, you’d realize it wasn’t you at all that made them suddenly bloom. It was God.

  • Most (that is, not all) young people are teachable and open. Thus they are able to grasp more spiritual truths than most adults can. Young people are smart. Be like the young people ;-).

Many adults respond to spiritual truths with this learning defect we call AKNY or “Alam ko na yan (I already know that).” And the sad thing is that spiritual truths are not learned the same way as physical or natural truths. Spiritual truths have a way of masquerading as being too simple, too “babyish”, too basic, too trivial. Spiritual truths are precious gems hiding in plain sight. And they could only be seen through the eyes of those with childlike faith.

Spiritual truths are precious gems hiding in plain sight. And they could only be seen through the eyes of those with childlike faith.

  • Life coaches. I heard that many people in the West hire life coaches to help them get their lives in order, pursue the right goals, and move towards the right direction. Well, CGs are like getting top-notch life coaches for free, and the best part of it is that they do not give advice out of mere human wisdom. Holy Spirit-given wisdom is always the best and can stand through eternity.
  • Raising from the ground up, starting from scratch. Many CG leaders prefer mentoring those who already exhibit leadership qualities and tend to avoid the newbies, or those who still seem to require “much work”, or even those who appear to be total wrecks. They are unaware of the sheer joy of “starting from scratch” and watching the gradual transformation of an ugly worm into a beautiful butterfly. These are moments reserved for those who have the patience and who persevere to the end. These are the joys reserved for the true spiritual father or mother.

 

Question: Do you think you need a life coach and a spiritual circle of friends? Please leave a comment.

Power in Earthen Vessels

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I was at Robinsons Mall, Fairview on Sunday on my way to Victory Churches of Asia (VCA) at the second floor when I passed by a commotion near the entrance of the mall annex.

My first thought was—was it a bomb? An ongoing robbery? I looked beyond the crowd gathered at the scene and saw a woman lying on the floor, shouting at the top of her lungs in what looked like a demonic attack. I stepped closer and asked the guards what happened. They shook their heads saying they don’t know.

As I went closer, I saw two angels ministering to the woman. One of the angels was in a red Chinese costume and she was cradling the woman’s head, gently trying to get the woman on her feet. The woman was still shouting out a lot of nonsense. Her mother was standing over her looking helpless. I came in closer and saw that the angels turned out to be my churchmates Jenny and Osang. We were in a building occupied by many churches, and this being a Sunday, who would come out of the crowd to help this woman but three of us from VCA! How cool is that?

As the security guards helped the woman get on a wheelchair, we told her we would like to pray for her. Still speaking in a loud voice, she said she is a Christian, too. We learned she used to have epileptic attacks in the past, but I sensed clearly that she had been bound by lies coming from the devil. I felt she had to break free from this deception, and the only thing that could free her from the lies is the truth.

Jenny, Osang, and I began to pray for her, but before we did, a lot of weird thoughts went through my head. What if the demon fights back? What if we fail at this in front of all these people? What if she physically hurt us?

I threw away all those doubts and jumped in in prayer. I felt the Holy Spirit embracing the woman while we prayed, and I felt the lies that bound her slowly being exposed to the light.

The woman could not move on emotionally from the shame, humiliation, and embarrassment of her “condition” and not just in this instance, but from several other instances in the past. She had lost the assurance of God’s love, she felt unacceptable and unlovable and had given in to the devil’s deceiving influence towards hopelessness and helplessness.

After we prayed, she suddenly turned quiet, then was transformed into a normal, friendly, and sensible person. Amazing.

So I mentioned I was on my way to the 4:00pm service at VCA, and would they like to go with me? Surprisingly, she and her mother instantly said yes.

A female security guard was kind enough to push her wheelchair through the elevator and we went up to the second floor.

Pastor Al Purvis, apostolic leader of Victory Churches in Asia who heads an awesome ministry in Thailand delivered God’s message that afternoon. And surprisingly, (though I think I’m no longer surprised at how God often gives surprises), he taught on Mark chapter 7, about a woman from Syria who asked Jesus for help because her daughter was demon-possessed.

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(Photo by Jason Marinas)

“The Word of God is more powerful than your circumstances…”

I was seated next to the woman—let’s call her Mabel (not her real name)—who gasped and said, “That’s me!”. Then she turned to her mother and said, “That’s us!”

I felt that the entire message by Pastor Al was meant for Mabel and her mother, and also meant for me. In fact, when the words were not meant for Mabel, they were meant for me.

Here are just some portions of the message that I remember…

Mark 7:24 – 29–

24Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre.i He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret. 25Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evilj spirit, 26and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter.

Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, 27Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children—my own family, the Jews.k It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

28She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.”

29“Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” 30And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.

Because of the words she said, the woman received her miracle. She spoke the right words to Jesus, words of faith that opened the door to a miracle.

A pure, unoffended heart will enable you to receive your miracle

Like the Syrian woman, are we speaking the right words? Or do we say, “Jesus, why am I not being healed?” or “Why is this happening to me?” Lord, help me speak the right words that will work the miracle in my life!

The Syrian woman was not at all offended when Jesus referred to the Jews as the children, and to her as a “dog”, because she was a pagan. Having a clean, pure, unoffended heart, she was able to speak the words that brought a miracle in her life.

Being without offence in one’s heart made the difference. Self-disappointment and things that happened in the past often create a blockage in the heart, making it difficult to believe.

When Jesus told the disciples “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” they couldn’t understand what He meant. They thought it was because they forgot to bring bread. And Jesus’ reaction was, “How is it that you don’t understand?” They missed the point. They couldn’t move on because they were disappointed with themselves at the mistake they made.

Sometimes, making a mistake and being disappointed with ourselves could harden our hearts. But God’s lovingkindness is able to set us free from disappointments.

II Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

God has put a treasure, His Word, in this earthly vessel, and we have the excellency of His power working in us. God keeps His Word. God keeps His mercy. Don’t let your past hinder your future. It’s time to move on. The Word of God is more powerful than your circumstances. We must learn to see beyond the offense, beyond our circumstances, to be able to see the excellency of the power He has placed in us.

A pure, unoffended heart will enable you to see your calling

How many times have you lain in your bed at night thinking, “If only I could…”. Whatever is that thing you wished you could do, that’s the dream that God has placed in your heart. It is in your heart for a purpose.

Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from Watching Supergirl

OR: Tips for Christians in the Secular Workplace

Yes, I watch “Supergirl”. Don’t laugh at me. When Warner TV ran marathon episodes of Season 1 a few months ago, I got hooked. There’s something about the story of this fictional superhero that attracted me, and I found myself drawing parallels between the storyline and my spiritual life.

Here are the top 10 “lessons” I got from watching Kara Danvers a.k.a. Supergirl that are maybe worth thinking about:

  1. Supergirl, like other superheroes, has a day job that doesn’t overshadow her real mission.

(Or at least she did in Season 1). She may be an office assistant of a media bigwig by day, and she enjoys being one, but she never forgets who she really is deep down. She is always acutely aware of her real purpose in life, and that is to use her power and extraordinary ability to help people.

Sometimes, our day jobs have a way of swallowing us up—dreams and all—in tight schedules, deadlines, exciting activities, strong friendships and office relationships, that often make us forget the real reason why we’re here in the first place. That is the reason why the superhero in us seem to hate having day jobs and would rather be doing things to answer “the calling” full time. But just look at how Supergirl does it. You’ll learn a lot.

2. Even superheroes need friends and helpers to man mission control.

Supergirl doesn’t work alone. Even while she’s busy battling it out with monsters out there, she is in constant communication with the Department of Extra-Normal Operations manned by her sister and people who actually care for her.

We were not meant to fulfill our mission and calling alone. We are meant to be in constant communication and fellowship with our church and our caregroup.

3. Kryptonite may look cute and harmless, but it could actually kill you.

To others, kryptonite is just a valuable specimen from outer space, a rare meteorite. To Supergirl, it means the loss of her power, utter weakness, or even death.

Little things that unbelievers embrace on a regular basis may actually be harmful to Christians. Take for example, today’s popular music loved by millions that may, in reality, be carriers of a spirit of depression. To unbelievers who have never experienced the inexplicable joy of knowing Jesus, feeling down and depressed may just be a normal and natural part of everyday life. That’s why they drink a lot and do drugs. But for people who have an abiding relationship with Jesus, it does have an effect on the general atmosphere—whether we admit it or not. It could actually rob us of our joy.

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(Photo: Warnerbros.com)

4. Supergirl knows what her core gift is, her so-called “competitive advantage,” and she uses it to the max.

She knows she has powers that not everybody else has, a power that is very much needed in the world. Who else can do the things she does? To deprive the world of her gift would be unthinkable, an evil thing to do.

We should never forget that the Spirit of God living inside us can enable us to do things other people can’t. Most especially if you happen to be the only Christian within a hundred square meter radius in your area of influence, that is, your workplace. To deprive others of Jesus’ love, compassion, and supernatural power would be just plain evil. If somebody nearby suddenly falls sick, for instance, unless there’s another superhero Christian nearby, the responsibility of praying and declaring healing for that person lies in your hands, and no one else’s.

5. Supergirl exudes fearlessness in the face of what looks like impending defeat.

Try suspending disbelief for a while and watch Supergirl being held in a powerful chokehold by a crazy Kryptonian. You can see the fear of imminent death in her eyes. But then suddenly, through sheer effort, or a sudden burst of determination, she breaks loose and subdues the enemy. Or J’onn J’onzz or Superman rescues her. The point is, Supergirl has looked at death in the eye and survived.

Our pastors in church would always remind us, “Feel the fear, but do it anyway”. Yes, the fear of failure or rejection or embarrassment or even death could paralyze us for a second, but because we know and trust Him who holds our life in His hands, we can burst forth with new strength. We feel the fear, yet we do it anyway.

6. She considers her mission more important than her to-do list.

Being the boss’ assistant, an all-around gofer and office problem-solver, Kara Danvers has a lot on her plate every single day. Yet when superhero duty calls, she doesn’t hesitate or think about an important email she has to send, or an urgent phone call she has to make. Faster than a speeding bullet, she goes up, up, and away.

Have you ever received a call or message asking for prayer or a visit right in the middle of work, and you think, “What the heck, I’m busy”? Then suddenly, something shakes you out of work-mode and then you realize “Wait a minute…this is what I’m living for, this is the very reason I’m working right now”.

7. Supergirl accepts the fact that some characters hate her for no reason.

Who could hate someone that cute and lovable and saves people from crime and disaster? Who could ever hate somebody who has nothing but goodness in her heart? Yet, villains exist in Supergirl’s world—villains who hate her with such deep hatred they wanted her pulverized or beaten to a pulp, or blown apart. Supergirl doesn’t waste time asking “Oh, why hate me so much?”. She accepts it as part of her life, and her world.

Christians who actually step outside the comfy confines of churchlife are often shocked to discover the sheer number of Christian haters out there—people who hate God because they have been offended by Christians in some way. People who block them on Facebook just because they often quote the Bible. People who see Christians as bigots and hypocrites just because. People who enjoy God-bashing as a hobby. People who see evil as good and good as evil. But we should not allow these things to hurt us. Accept the fact that, as Jesus said, “People will hate you because of Me”.

8. Supergirl knows it’s okey to use supernatural powers in the workplace.

Supergirl wouldn’t hesitate to use her eyes’ powerful rays to heat the boss’ morning latte. But using supernatural powers in the office has its limits. There’s no need to attract undue attention, disrupt normal operations, or expose your being weird or different.

Back when I was a writer for a magazine, I was on my way to work hoping I could think of a good angle for my article before I reach the office. And I had to come up with an idea fast. I closed my eyes and talked to God about it. Then, all of a sudden, it just hit me. My article quickly took form in my mind from start to finish, every single word. Supernaturally natural. Or naturally supernatural.

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(Photo: Warnerbros.com)

9. She identifies with non-Kryptonians and adopts their welfare as her own.

She risks her life for a planet that is not her home and is concerned with the welfare of human beings, though she is an alien on earth.

How easily do we identify with and care about people whose lifestyles, origins, or social status are different from ours? Are we willing to risk our lives for people whose ways are alien to us?

10. She enjoys performing her mission, AND doing her job.

Probably one of the best proofs that Kara Danvers loves her job so much was when Cat Grant suspected her of being Supergirl and asked her to leave her job. Kara gave the the most touching “I love my job” speech any boss would love to hear.

Do we love our jobs with as much passion as doing it for the One we love?