Featured

Many of the people whose stories are featured in this blog are not rich, educated, popular, nor influential. From the world’s perspective, they are nobodies. And they are far from being perfect. Yet they have what many of the world’s rich, educated, popular, and powerful could only hope to have — things that are seemingly beyond the grasp of most average normal individuals living in the world today — 

Real peace, lasting joy, healing, genuine love, the power to overcome weakness, fear, and sin….a life of color, meaning, and purpose.

These men and women see beyond the physical and the “normal”. They live in the light of eternity. Despite their frailties, they know they are called to be part of something bigger than themselves. They have an intimate, personal love-relationship with the Creator of the universe.

They are the people of destiny.

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An Open Letter to Filipino Christian Professionals

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I write this exclusively for those who go to work everyday with barely enough sleep, fatigued from the traffic and long hours of commute, contending with social pressures from people in the office who you have grown close to through the years, and whose opinions are somehow very important to you right now.

And somehow things happen that make you realize— this is what being depressed feels like. It numbs the mind and body, and causes you to hold on to certain things that mask the pain, or somehow give a certain degree of comfort. Harmless things like going to the mall every chance you get. Going out with friends (nothing wrong with this really). Shopping. Going on weekend adventures. Binge-watching. Marathon telenovelas. Getting close to people of the opposite sex. Video and digital games. Non-stop chatting or texting or unlimited calls.

Let me make it clear that there’s really NOTHING inherently WRONG with all of these things. They’re all perfectly alright. Except that in the state you’re in (sad, depressed, unfulfilled), they have virtually become a means of escape. Escape from the truth.

I’ve been there. Working for more than 20 years. And I’ve been going to church for most of those years. Yes, I became a Christian before I even had my first job. I WAS a “Christian” during all of those years! Yes, anyone can go to church or do ministry without having a real connection with God.

And let me emphasize that I’m writing this from the perspective of where I am today. Today I am free. But I’ve seen it up close. Believe me, I know.

One thing I realize that I should have been warned about, is that the Big D (Depression)  doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen just because a problem came up, or because somebody hurt you. It happens slowly… too slowly for you to notice. It creeps into your life like a slow-moving shadow, too insignificant for you to pay any attention to. It’s something that happens over long periods of time. It’s something that you’ve allowed to happen because you’re too busy, because there are just more important, more exciting, more urgent things happening in your life. Because most of the time, you’re just too tired. Or too preoccupied. Or too cool among friends. It happens.

If you think you feel depressed now because this or that happened, you’re wrong. It started wayyyy longggg before that.

In my first few years as a professional, I used to read the Bible and talk to God everyday. But then I got too successful at work. And successful means busy.

Fatigue + lack of sleep + emotional turmoil + busyness + too many things on your mind = Guess what you’ll get

After you’ve allowed it to slowly creep into your life, it holds you by the neck, and you feel trapped. Then you begin to believe THE BIG LIE. This Big Lie will hold you and affect your decisions, your attitude, and your actions.

This Big Lie will cause you to say things like, “These Christian fools don’t know exactly what I’m going through. And they could even be judging me right now. They won’t be able to understand because they have all the comforts of freedom from not having to work like I do”.

Well, you just have to silence this thought and listen to that small voice in your heart. Somewhere in the deep recesses of your heart, that still small voice is being drowned out by the BIG LIE. You have to give that small voice a chance.

Yes, it would take a lot of tears. You’ll have to find a place all to yourself, where you can pour it all out to God. Without the security and serenity of this private, secret place, you shouldn’t trust every thought going through your head. Half of them could be lies.

And the worst thing you can do is listen to secular music. It doesn’t matter how much you think the lyrics fit everything you’re going through right now. If it’s been composed by somebody who’s depressed, and sang by somebody just as depressed, guess what kind of spirit is being transferred to you when you listen to that song. I can bet that almost all suicides and attempted suicides have at least one LSS (last song syndrome) playing in the background in their heads.

But this was how I got out of it: I soaked, I tarried, I stayed in His Presence. I regained my connection with my God, the Lover of my soul, my Bestfriend, my Father, the Meaning of my life. And you know what, I just snapped out of it. Jesus broke the chains of the Big Lie that had me bound. I became free! Just like that. In place of emptiness, there was joy.

Yes, the answer is too simple and sounds too good to be true. That is why The Big Lie seems to be more believable. But there is no other way around it, as a song goes. You will first have to be broken. Crushed.

And sometimes, you will have to fight your way into it. Fight the tyranny of the urgent, as they say, and know that being with Him, communing with Him, being loved by Him, is what you really need right now. And you have to do whatever it takes to revive that intimate connection, that heart-to-heart relationship with Him. Lay everything before Him. Repent and receive His cleansing.

Yes, you might think it feels good just to have another depressed friend around to keep you company, and you do expect people to reach out to you. But we all know that whatever comfort or thrill you’ll get from this will not last long.

I’m talking about a lasting solution. A solution that will destroy depression and keep it out of your life once for all.

 

Hey, talk to me.

Death by Loneliness

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Credits: facebook.com/AnthonyBourdain

This is not to belittle the “big” issue of depression surrounding the death by suicide of well-loved personalities such as Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Robin Williams, and so many more.

But their deaths only highlight this fundamental truth:

That fame, riches, worldly success, religion, an active lovelife, influence, power, and what lately has become everybody’s dream—travel adventures— simply cannot erase the emptiness, that inner loneliness, that results from not having a real, genuine, personal love-relationship with the One who created you for Himself.

The person who has shut off God from their life, because they have swallowed the ancient lies (the lie that God doesn’t really care, that He doesn’t exist, that it so UNCOOL to believe in a God in this age of science and technological advancement yada yada yada)—every lie thrown by the devil into a world that has become so susceptible to deception…that person who has removed God from the equation…has virtually written their own death sentence. They have practically removed any chance of finding real happiness. And that is the ugly truth.

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Credits: TMZ

Some people explain this fact away by painting a picture of depression as a sickness caused by a chemical imbalance, a mental disease just like other diseases that can be “cured” or managed by science and medicine. Well, science has proven that our bodies naturally react from triggers from our minds, our hearts, and our spirit. For instance, nurturing hurts and bitterness for long periods of time affects the heart, the kidneys, and other internal organs.

The human being is simply not meant to live a life independent from his Creator. We have been “designed” to live in close communion with Him, and even our bodies react to the absence of the love and light that comes from knowing Him. THIS is what the world calls depression. In reality, it is simply the absence of God in your life.

Every single person in the world has felt hunger for God at one time or another. But because we give in to the world’s convention of what is right, or what is real, or what is truth, or what is “cool”, we push this innate thirst for meaning aside, and replace it with our own life philosophy, our own survival mindsets, our own religion. The fact is, God has intentionally placed that natural thirst in your heart for you to seek Him.

You may ask—So, do Christians never ever experience depression? If you mean by “Christians” those who go to church or post bible quotes everyday, well, they do get depressed if they don’t have that real connection, or have not experienced a real encounter with God. Not everyone who goes to church and posts bible verses have a real connection with God. Religion will NOT give you real and lasting happiness. Only a genuine, personal, heart-to-heart connection with God can. It is simply impossible for anyone to be touched by God and not be happy.

 

Ask me how.

“My God is amazing”

Ann1by Ann Ronquillo

Church usher, housewife and mother of 3

as told to Carol delos Santos

I was rebellious. When I was 18, I ran away from home because my father was always drunk. I was totally lost, without friends, with nowhere to go. I was traveling around aimlessly.

But somehow I knew this one thing—God was my only hope. I used to cry to Him and ask “Is there any man in the world who could ever love me?” I cried out to Him all my frustrations over my parents, over my life. I kept telling God, “You’re the only One I could lean on. I could only trust You and no one else”. There was no one else in my life.

For several months, my parents didn’t hear from me. They could’ve been wondering where I was, or whether I was still alive…

After some time, my aunt got to me and took me with her to Manila. Going to Manila was one thing my father could never allow. Be there was nothing he could do about that anymore.

Barely a year after, I got married. Life with my husband at that point had been tough. We weren’t really prepared for marriage at that stage.

My husband’s father turned out to be a Pastor. It was because of him that I opened a Bible for the first time.

I came to Victory Churches of Asia (in the Philippines) for the first time in 2016. That was when I really began to grow spiritually. That was when I finally realized that in everything I’ve been through, in those difficult, ugly times, God had been keeping me safe. I realized that even without my parents, when I was all alone, I’ve been protected from harm. God had protected me. God was with me all along. Through my terrible journey, He had been there with me, taking care of me. He had never, not even once, left me alone. And the best thing was He led the way for me to meet my husband.

I never even asked for such a good, responsible husband like what I have now. I’ve only asked for a man who would love me. But God exceeded my expectations. “Lord, what You have given me is just amazing”.

Now, I’ve finally realized just how much God truly loves me, and it’s because of the things I’ve been through. Because He has truly carried me. He guided me and fixed my life. I have a responsible husband who never stopped me from going to church. He takes care of our children whenever I attend the church training classes. He truly supports me in everything I do. This is why I always say, “Lord, You are truly amazing”.

As I look back, I realized that, through all the ugly experiences I’ve had, God had a purpose for allowing some things to happen. They truly reveal God’s glory in my life.

 

 

Leave a comment

 

Confessions of a Former Bully

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The mere sound of her high heels clicking on the floor, signalling her approach, used to scare a lot of people. No one wanted to mess around with this feisty lady with a sharp tongue and a stern demeanor. Magica Molina is a woman who always got what she wanted, and woe to anybody who dared stand in her way.

But unlike most people hardened by pain or life’s circumstances, Magica knew the exact point in her life when she turned from innocent little girl into a cold-hearted bully.

She was six years old, in grade school, when a classmate she looked up to (who we shall call Angie) made up a story—a clever piece of deception that Magica believed for three long years. Angie had tricked her into thinking it was her fault that Angie had lost a very expensive wallet—a wallet too costly that not even years and years of her school allowance could ever pay for it.

Overwhelmed by guilt and fear of Angie’s parents, and the threat of being reported to authorities, Magica allowed Angie to bully her into handing over her entire school allowance daily—every single centavo day after day. Whenever Angie would see her with a sandwich or a meal, one painful squeeze on her skin was all it took, and Magica would willingly give up her food for Angie. Without her parents’ knowledge, every single day she endured hunger and deprived herself of little comforts so she could pay this huge debt and somehow ease the terrible guilt of losing something so valuable that wasn’t even hers. This, she believed, was just as horrible as stealing. The sad part of it was, because she happened to be her father’s favorite, her school allowance was bigger than most kids her age. And she gave them all to Angie, secretly, everyday, for three years straight.

The guilt, the fear, the terrible sense of failure had gnawed at her young mind continuously, and in her innocence, she had thought, surely her suffering was much deserved.

Until that day when, three years later, she discovered that everything had been a hoax. A cleverly concocted lie. She realized she had been victimized when she saw the precious wallet, the object of her misery, in one of her classmates’ possession. Angie had sold it to her three years ago. It had been with her all along. The shock, the sheer realization of how a little girl so young could be so evil penetrated the core of her being.

Suddenly, all her suffering and torment of three long years snapped and gushed out of her in one powerful torrent of hatred and revenge. Her body shaking, she came looking for Angie and when she saw her, reached for her neck and banged her face against the wall. At nine years old, that had been the first of her many violent outbursts that eventually forced Angie to drop out of school in fear for her life.

That traumatic episode drastically changed her view of the world, of people in general, and of life as a whole. Magica was technically just a kid when she came to this morbid conclusion: People are not really as kind and honest as her parents had brought her up to believe. Like Angie, they are so capable of evil. And she must not let anything like this happen to her again. Ever.

From that point on, she followed only one rule: Bully or be bullied. Bad people must never be given the chance to do their thing. They must be stopped right at the onset. Hurt them or get hurt.

She carried this mindset on to adulthood, never for a moment tolerating any whiff of mistake or wrongdoing from anybody, always ready to raise a storm against anyone who she thinks deserves it.

Just over a year ago, she started going to Victory Churches of Asia every Sunday with her son. And even then, she doubted that anything could ever change the way she was—nothing, not even the awesome moments of worship that brought tears to her eyes, nor the powerful spirit-filled preaching, nor her care group friends who teasingly call her “Mayora” (female Mayor).

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Victory Churches of Asia in the Philippines. Photo credit: Apple Buenaobra-Pre

“This is just who I am,” she had said, not defensively, but with the somber acceptance of a solid fact that cannot be altered.

Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil. - Jeremiah 13:23

Sunday after Sunday and in midweek worship services, she gradually formed the habit of listening to the Word of God, allowing eternal truths to sink deep into her heart, and experiencing the Presence of God in worship.

Soon, people began noticing something different about her. “She has changed,” was a common observation. “She doesn’t seem like the same person,” was another. Whether she had indeed “mellowed down,” became a little bit more patient, no one could put a finger on exactly.

Once, she discovered her maid had been stealing from her for months and, while normally this would have ended up badly, there was not even the slightest hint of outrage on her part. Instead, a solemn reprimand and friendly advice was all it took.

In another instance, she found out a friend had been lying to her and making up stories. Instead of an ugly confrontation as was expected of her, she patiently waited for a chance to help her friend out of her psychological and spiritual bondage.

Gone are the violent bouts with anger and drawn-out thoughts about revenge. She now encourages a lot of her friends to turn to Jesus.

“We really are not capable of changing ourselves,” she would declare to everyone, still with the same air of authority and self-assurance. “Only Jesus can do that”.

Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots? Jesus can.

 

 

 

 

Please leave a comment 🙂

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

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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, a few days later, here they are now, actively, busily, happily serving in church, with not a single bone broken.

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Why? How?

If you’d ask them, they’ll say it’s because they serve the God of miracles. And they are part of a community where miracles often happen in people’s lives. Small miracles, big miracles, from unexpected favors to cancers being healed— miracles that have become a normal part of many people’s lives.

They believe in Jesus, and because they take Him at His word, the supernatural has become normal. As they say, “naturally supernatural and supernaturally natural”.

"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.

 

Puppy Whisperer

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Not every dog whisperer knows this, but there are two kinds of puppies: the scaredy-cat puppies, and the trusting puppies.

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

The scaredy-cat puppies, however, freak out 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 break free from your grasp. 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.

We humans are pretty much like puppies… in the way we 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.

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

 

The “scared puppy” humans never realize that God longs to hold them in His arms, like a mother hen gathers its chicks under its wings. 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 unhappy.

We used to keep our puppies in a dog house with wide cage bars, and to keep them from slipping out, we placed steel fence material over the walls (we won’t ever do this again!). Now, 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.

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

After several hours, he finally got really tired enough to stop crying, and finally broke free, never realizing it was his wailing that kept him from freedom.

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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.

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The terrace became my temporary office

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.

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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 the 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. 🙂