Presenting… Christian Version 2.0!

Philippians 2:12-13

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Everyone wants to change for the better.

But did you know that this can only be possible with eyes wide open? And we have to work hard for it because it is never automatic.

According to the Pastor, there are five things we must do to be able to change ourselves for the better.

1. Abide

John 15:5-6

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and I withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

To abide means to submit. We must submit and connect to God because without Him, there will be no overflow in our lives, no blessings that’ll come our way.

If we want to change, hope is in each of us. The first step is that we must submit ourselves to God.

2. Align

John 7:15-17

And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”

The pastor said something interesting: “What blows on my face often has my name on it.” And it’s true. Usually, our problems are inflicted by no one but ourselves.

And the question is, when are we going admit that we are the ones who blow the bombs on our own faces? Remember, we cannot change with eyes closed. We must turn self-indulgence to self-awareness. And how do we do it? By aligning ourselves with God who has the power to change us for the better.

3. Absorb

Mark 4:24-25

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

There are two hindrances to growth, said the Pastor:

a. Indifference

b. Distractions

And if we don’t open our ears along with our eyes, there’ll be no way these two will be wiped out from our lives.

Be an eager listener. Especially of the Word. So that we’ll hear God’s revelations that will help us a lot.

4. Apply

James 1:22-25

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in the mirror.

Matthew 7:24

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Romans 8:12-13

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Of course, all those abiding, aligning, and absorbing are nothing if we don’t apply everything in our lives.

The Pastor also reminded his audience that in changing, we erase all our failures and mistakes. Change is a new chance to do better, thus, our past should not cripple us and define our future.

“You worst moment does not define your life,” he said. “Failure is an event, failure in not a person.”

5. Accountability

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Ephesians4:22-25

That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:14-15

That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

There may be people who proclaim that they’re independent (like me), but still, seeing and doing things merely on our own isn’t enough. This is where accountability enters.

These people that we should share with can be a close friend, a family member, your spouse or significant other, or those from join support groups that can help us monitor how we’ve been progressing in life and can see if we’re doing things right.

If you’re not yet part of any caring group, maybe it’s time for you to join one. I, myself, will be doing it soon.

 

Are you ready for a better you? Since growth is not automatic, always keep in mind two things: Plan to grow by applying the five things in your life, and of course, always make time for it. 🙂

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Lovin’ the Right Way with Kuya Kevin’s Book

Basta Lovelife (Kuya Kevin)

My closest friends have found my battered heart on the ground some time ago. And while most of them showed support and gave me honest opinions and advices about it, my college buddy coupled hers with a book called Basta Lovelife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions by Kuya Kevin, an American pastor/minister and blogger living in the Philippines for a decade now.

It just got buried on my pile of unread books, though, ’cause I was too busy both with adjusting to my new work and with helping myself stand up again. And besides, there’s that term “lovelife” on the title, and I didn’t need it then.

But now that time is swiftly turning the pages of my life’s book to my 25th birthday, and I’m starting to wonder if I was born for single blessedness or married life/committed doublehood, I remembered it, and so I dug my dusty pile, read it, and enjoyed the pieces of information I got from it.

Basta Lovelife answers relationship questions about love (like the right age to be in a relationship, dealing with rejection, same-sex relationships, etc.) and sex from a Christian’s perspective and with pieces of evidence from the Bible to support the ideas. Its aim is to help young Filipinos make wise relationship decisions.

When it comes to sex, those addicted to a premarital one may not like it because the book has a strong conviction about sexual purity. Kuya Kevin discusses why one should keep their virginity until the day they get married by comparing  purity and impurity with fresh water from a water dispenser and contaminated one from a freshly painted curb, and asks which one would people drink. He also tells sex is the highest form of intimacy and that each time people engage with it, they give a piece of themselves to each sexual partner, so just imagine what’s left to offer to their future spouse if they do it outside marriage. Sex even loses it true meaning in the process.

Likewise, the book may also receive a couple of eyebrow-raising from the close-minded people because it discusses the double standard in males and females. They say that men, unlike women, don’t lose anything in premarital sex. But the Bible, through Kuya Kevin’s simple explanation, says it is untrue. Men lose too; they lose self-control, intimacy, themselves, safety, and security. Men’s sex drive is also explained in the book to make it clear if it’s a blessing or a curse.

The book isn’t just being conservative. As Kuya Kevin says in the book, “I base my beliefs on biblical commandments and principles.” So if the Bible has no clear stand on a certain act, like kissing and masturbation, he doesn’t say no to it although he also explains the potential consequences of such. And he didn’t condemn anyone who has made the mistake of having premarital sex in the past. God, after all, forgives, as long as one will be committed to change.

Potential detractors’ reactions aside, Basta Lovelife is a must-read for people seeking a more fruitful relationship in the future, the book is after all made for them. If you want to be enlightened, too, about its subject and others that surround it, this book is recommended to be added on your book list. Its 161 pages sure have a lot to teach you.

 

***

I got a shocking question from a guy friend a few weeks before reading this book: What’s your opinion about sex? It was shocking because it was the first time I got such query (He even added: I can ask anything, right?and yes, he could, I guess, since I indirectly agreed to have that Q&A session with him. But still…), so I didn’t know which part of sex I should talk about, how to start with my answer, and it was awkward for me speak about it alone with a guy.

It took me maybe about a minute to compose myself before I finally said something like: I’m open-minded about it and I can talk about it with people. I don’t even have a problem saying sexual words like penis, vagina, and sex, unlike most people who bleep them, since I don’t find anything wrong with them. I surprisingly know a lot about sex as compared to what my personality would suggest, so I can talk about sex in an educational way–although I haven’t done it yet, mind you–and laugh wild with people dropping green jokes all the time. But I won’t do it. (I just find it fulfilling to be knowledgeable about any stuff foreign to me, but no applications, please. It’s way too early for that.)

The texts on the photo sum up my stand on premarital sex.

The texts on the photo sum up my stand on premarital sex.

Later on, I started questioning myself with my answer, thinking maybe I was way too conservative that I’m now missing a lot in my life. But as I read Basta Lovelife, I began feeling proud of myself and my beliefs and I decided to hold on to them tighter ’cause I know that I’m on the right track. The book is now a favorite. 🙂

Visit Kuya Kevin’s blog at: kuyakevin.blogspot.com

 

Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.

–William Penn

Under God’s Loving Umbrella

Have you experienced a major problem in your life?

If you ask me, yes I have, in fact, I have already suffered twice. And these two circumstances, which both made my head spin, heart ache, and every part of my body crumble, were somewhat identical in cause, but what’s interesting is that both happened during the time when I was far from my Creator.

I call them my dark days and think that they were God’s sweet spanking for letting myself go astray from His loving arms. I had that theory in mind all along, until I sat alone in church, listening intently, and the pastor confirmed everything. I could relate to all that was taught, making it an interesting and unforgettable Sunday service.

Photo grabbed from Flickr

Complete with an umbrella and a man as props, the pastor demonstrated how we expose ourselves to bad things when we get out of the umbrella of God.

That day’s teaching is best illustrated through the Book of Jonah. What happens when we try to run away from His presence are:

a. We can get into a confusing and frightening situation – When we get to this point, maybe it’s God’s way of warning us that we’re slowly creeping our way away from Him and He is reminding us that we can never be okay without Him and that we should go back and accept His offer of company.

b. We can get into a zero-option situation – It is a dead end because there’s no solution if we stay away from God’s presence. Everything will be pitch black and we have nowhere to go to.

c. We can get out of our frightening and zero-option situations when we repent of our stubbornness and obey what God wants us to do. 

 

God gave us freewill, so we always have the choice whether to stay or not.  But He promises that if we let ourselves be surrounded by His presence, we will be abundantly blessed. The sun may still set every once in a while, but He’ll still make it shine for us.

The pastor gave a little guide to help us understand the importance of God’s presence and decision-making and how they go hand in hand:

a. Choices in life are options having to do with either remaining or running away from the presence of God – The Devil may be there and may drag us with him, but it is still up to us if we’ll soften up and let him lure us to his trap. We can also choose to obey and set ourselves free from zero-option situation or be stubborn and be perpetually surrounded by it. It is a matter of choice, and there’s no finger pointing since our lives depend on ourselves!

b. Corrective circumstances are realities we go through when we make mistakes – Wrong choices always have equivalent corrective circumstances. They don’t just happen for no reason at all. Painful episodes in our lives take place so that we can realize where we have failed and thus be aware of how to avoid zero-option situation from repeating itself.

c. Choices are often contaminated by our lack of forgiveness or lack of faith – Acceptance is the key to good choices. It gives us better perspective of things since our minds are not clouded with grudges. So forgive, and never lose your faith in God.

 

So the next time you think you’re soaked with unrelenting troubles, check your spiritual life and your faith if it’s still the same as before. It’s always better and safer to be under God’s loving umbrella. ❤

  

It’s Raining Blessings Everyday!

Last week, I sent an SMS to my high-school friend greeting her a happy birthday and telling her–with much conviction–that God will surely bless her more in the new year added to her life.

After a few hours, she replied with the usual thanks, and that she’s looking forward to that “I know God will bless you more” part. I smiled with positivity upon reading it, then suddenly, I thought…

Photo grabbed from Flickr

Heeeeeeeyyyyy…  We’re lavished with blessings everyday! 🙂

From the moment we wake up, take a bath, eat our breakfast, say goodbye to the people at home (if we live with our family or anybody else), commute to work, let the sun touch our skin, meet and mingle with our colleagues (or classmates for those still in school), do our tasks in the office or at school, eat lunch, eat snack, reach the end of our shift, commute back home, pass by people–strangers or not–with equally busy lives, greet and catch up with people at home, eat dinner, watch TV, check our Facebook accounts,  get a bit unlucky with some of the occurrences along our daily routine, to the time we say goodnight, turn off the lights, and go to sleep… These are all blessings from God!

To most, those may not be godsend anymore because doing them every single day have made them too monotonous. But if we really think about it, not everybody is given the gift of next day, which means there are less fortunate ones who can never be able to do those everyday habits again.

As Panic At The Disco‘s Oh Glory song goes, “If I wake in the morning, I only need two more miracles to be a saint…” It’s true. To be able to see the daylight once more is indeed a marvel. Just imagine how many people sleep at night with carefully-listed plans for tomorrow in mind, but then, never able to fulfill them because their time have expired. And there are people who still wake up, but then after a few hours, their lives turn unexpectedly, and they can no longer function the same way they do.

So to us who still have the chance to greet the world a happy morning again and again, let us never take those unacknowledged blessings from the Lord for granted. Let us also never stop from thanking Him for those ’cause we never know when the last time we’ll be able to do them.

We are very fortunate. We really are. There may be times when our regular days are disturbed by troubles–lots of troubles–and it seems like there’s no way out. But remember, God doesn’t put those trials just to punish us. Problems come to us to teach us and mold us into the stronger and wiser persons whom He meant for us to be. That’s another great blessing, right?

So let us not let ennui take over us and instead, look at the brighter side. Blessings are abundantly presented to us each day, we just have to search at the right places and have the right frame of mind.

 

P.S. A simple reply of appreciation that led to this blog entry. Oh, it’s okay if you don’t mind me, and it’s okay if you do. It’s just me with overflowing optimism and renewed faith in God. :3

God bless!

 

 

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UPDATE (October 21, 2012):
I just remembered this quote I read from Jostein Gaarder’s The Solitaire Mystery:

How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.

You were Born to Fight!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Photo grabbed from Flickr

Each of us is a warrior. We may not be in a physical war wherein we are armed with physical swords and shields, but there really is a war that we cannot escape. And yes, being a Christian doesn’t guarantee a worry-free living, in fact, we are more prone to trials set by God and even by the devil who wants to steal us away from Him.

There is a war within us, and this is a spiritual war. That is why we were born to fight. But the bad part is when we are ignorant of the battle. Sun Tzu said in his The Art of War, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.” So know who or what your enemy is to succeed.

One of the daily adversaries that we should know of is laziness, and The Bible can attest to this:

Proverbs 6:10-11
A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep–
So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.

Fight. Fight and leave that indolence behind because that’s what we were born to do. And remember: Success isn’t going to be given in silver platter, we have to move and do something to achieve it. And when we do that, we are sure to get hurt and shed tears, but God promises that at the end, we’ll win. It will be hard, indeed, but just hold on and never stop.

Deuteronomy 1:6-8
The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb: ‘You dwelt long enough at this mountain.
‘Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates.
‘See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers–to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–to give to them and their descendants after them.’

Do you have something worthy to fight for? You must have, because that’s what makes each of us tick. And when you fight, never leave God behind and make sure you also fight for righteousness, your families, and your future. 🙂

You were Born with a Purpose!

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

We were definitely born not just for anything, but for great things, and God assures us of this through His Word.

All we have to do is ask ourselves, What am I here for?, pray and believe in Him and His plans for us, and work hard in following wherever God leads us to. As a further declaration of His promise, God also says:

Mark 9:23
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

The pastor said that it is important to find out what we were born for because:

1. it reduces stress

Photo grabbed from Flickr

– It keeps us from getting jealous and envious of what other people have and are capable of doing better than us.

2. it increases the chance of success

– Because it give us something clear to focus on and therefore, a better path to take

3. it increases our passion

– When we know our purpose, passion comes oozing from within and provides us more willpower to reach what we are born for. Can’t recall what being passionate is? Just look at children as they play with their fellow, you’ll see.

Are you now aware of God’s plan for you? Maybe it’s time for you to finally find out. Just always bear in mind, you were born to do something great!

Proverbs 22:29
Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.