Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Page 359 of 365: YNWA

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This Christmas, let us be reminded that Jesus will never leave us.
This Christmas, I'm all by my lonesome. While my friends are out there eating, drinking, and putting some cash to their kids' socks and making the alibi that Santa Claus is the money-giver (Oops! Sorry kids for the spoiler alert.), here I am doing my work. But I'm pretty confident that I'm never alone.

I remember the time when Barclays Premier League club Liverpool honored those who braved the very crowded Hillsborough Arena in Sheffield, England just to watch the team's FA Cup Final Four battle against Nottingham in 1989, especially the 96 lives which was lost during what would be the most devastating soccer stampede ever. Until today, Liverpool (and so are other English and even other top European soccer squads) gives utmost respect to the Hillsborough Tragedy victims by adding the statement "You'll Never Walk Alone" in its logo. Even on social media, expect the hashtag #YNWA from Liverpool fans and other soccer analysts.

Just like how the soccer team continues to give moral support to the Hillsborough Crush victims and their relatives, God is still with us despite the troubles we had. In fact, He has already forgiven us of our sins. God showed that by coming to Earth, taking the form of a human and being the One who suffered the punishment for sin that we deserved. Until now, Jesus shows His love for us by not leaving us and overcoming our trials for us. (John 16:33) Yes, you might be alone physically this Yuletide season, but you'll never walk alone, because Christ is always with us. On His birthday, let us be reminded of this.

John 3:16 (NKJV)-For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ask Stu: Where to Side?

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What will you do if symposium organizers clash over money matters? IACMR
I decided to take full advantage of my Ask.FM account. Thus, I present to you "Ask Stu". Here, I'm gonna answer your questions pertaining sports, travel, and also personal problems. Just go to my Ask.FM account already linked above and place your questions. I'm gonna answer your question through a blog post based on the category of your question (e.g. a sports-related question from you will be replied with a Newbie Gaming post on Sporty Guy). In fact, let's answer one. I got this from a good friend that wants to be called "Torn Writer" for privacy and sensitivity of the issue. Here's what he said:

"Dude, I have a problem. I have two friends who are in a rift. Friend 1 organized a symposium elsewhere, and formed a team. I got included in the organizing team, and he also invited Friend 2, who he met just recently. So the plans were set, and Friend 1 tasked Friend 2 and the rest of us to strike sponsorship deals for the talk. Friend 2, for me, is arguably the most active negotiator I met, and he was able to bring in major companies to support the talk. The symposium became a success, and it's time for the post-event report. However, Friend 1 found out that the total budget collected still lacked a certain amount, so he called one of the companies Friend 2 lured to the talk. F1 found out from a company representative that F2 has the money, and F1 got furious because F2 never handed him the cash and even some items to be given to the talk as token of appreciation for attending the symposium. F1 asked F2 to hand it ASAP. F2 responded and said that he mistakenly lent the money to another friend, who he said is also part of the team, and he promised to pay it. Few days have passed, but no money changed hands. There, tempers flared. F1 began calling F2 a robber. F2 replied and called F1 greedy. The tirades continued. Their friends have already sided with either of them. Then, F1 finally had enough and is set to bring the matter to the court. I want them to at least have a peaceful agreement if not fully reconcile, but it looks like this has gotten out of hand. What should I do?"

My two co... Oh wait! Money is involved here, so let me rephrase it. My take on this:

To Torn Writer, it's pretty hard that two of your friends are setting up a trial against each other. It's also hard to side with one of them especially if you're not aware of the real story. Even if you know about it, I'm sure you're now sad and even crying because siding with one will hurt the other. So here's what I got from my mom: stay away from it. I'm not saying you should forget about the issue. What I'm saying is that if you don't know what really happened (or decipher which is true), then don't side with one of them. Stay neutral. It doesn't mean that you are betraying both of them, but rather it's your way of saying that you want to finish the issue in a peaceful manner, even if it will not lead to them rekindling their friendship. Reconciliation will follow, so fear not. The Lord is the Ultimate Peacemaker. He knows the real truth, and let Him judge them (and us too). But through His grace and mercy, He will make rifts end without a sweat and make enemies friends. In the end, I'm gonna remind you with two Scriptures listed below.

Now, to F1 and F2, you need not to take this issue into legal matters. There's still time for you to settle this peacefully. Swallow your pride. To F1, just give him the cash. To F2, prove that you and your pals are no greedy and use the money for the good and not for yourself. Read the verses below for an enlightenment from God.

John 8:32-"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

1 Timothy 6:10a-"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

I stand in faith with you that everything will be settled. I'm done. I'm out. -Stu

Again, for questions, just ask me at

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Page 202 of 365: An Act of Heroism

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What Franz Dysam did was a showcase of his love to
his girlfriend, and you too can show that to God and
others. Loi Landicho
After his Letran Knights beat the Lyceum Pirates in the NCAA last night, Franz Dysam and his girlfriend
Joanne Sordan drove their way home. But they were ambushed by unidentified men along the intersection of N. Domingo and Araneta Avenues in San Juan City, just a stone throw away from the FilOil Flying V Arena where the game was played. The couple were brought to the hospital, but Sordan was declared dead on arrival, while Dysam was transferred to the UST Hospital to get further medications.

Colegio de San Juan de Letran released its official statement affirming some social media reports that Dysam covered Sordan, who was apparently the target of the ambush, by putting his body on her to take the ammos. Franz put his life on the line just to save his love, and that's a great gentleman approach that will be remembered for years. Love is about taking a heroic stand not just to your spouse but also to your parents, friends, and superiors. That heroic stand doesn't just come in the form of taking bullets. The apostle Paul put up a list of what love is and what heroic stands you can do to show your love to others. You can find that in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

And if you think you can't do them all, just look upon Jesus. He showed His love to us by doing everything Paul would write to Corinth several years after He ascended back to Heaven. Apart from that, the Lord did the biggest act of heroism ever. Jesus Christ took the "bullets" that were meant for us. We're the sinners that should have been punished by death, but the Lord showed His mercy and gave us grace by bailing us out of our faults, absorbing all of our sins, and bringing them to the cross. I remember how Christ did that for us, and I still get teary-eyed. You too can show your love. Be patient to them, be kind to them, be the friend or loved one they expect you to be, and of course be trustful to God, the Creator of love. Showing your love to God and others is a great act of heroism.

PS: Let's continue to pray for the fast recovery of Franz Dysam and that justice will be served to him and Joanne.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Page 184 of 365: Fasting Troubles

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I'm honestly on the verge of giving up in my midyear fast, but
I know God will strengthen me.
While I'm participating in a short fasting period, I am now at a point where I begin to crave for other things. I am currently in a milk-and-juice fast, but I'm beginning to feel like I need to eat now. Fasting has never been this hard.

However, this is where God works the best. In times that we're losing the battle, He will lift us up and strengthen us to achieve the victory. 1 Corinthians 2:5 (NIV) says that "faith [should] not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." As we continue to pray and fast, remember that it's the Lord's power that will prevail.

 Read Acts 10:44-48, 19:1-12, Ephesians 5:15-20, 1 Corinthians 2:4, 5, and Isaiah 44:1-5.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Page 183 of 365: Prayer is Power

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Not even a power interruption will stop us from continuously praying to God.
I had to rush to our church's prayer meeting from my class, but the lights were literally out as soon as I came to the church center. But what I saw was something I liked a lot. Despite the power interruption, the prayer meeting was still ongoing, and everyone was do passionate in praying as if there's no blackout. It was a totally different story from the past times I attended prayer meetings. All I saw were people continuously praying despite what I believe is a threat from Satan to disrupt them.

In this time in which we are praying and fasting, we are expecting the sinister plans of Satan, but we know that the Lord has already beaten him. And even a very long power interruption will not stop us from praying.

This is one of the callings of the Lord to us. We will never cease in praying and believing for the breakthroughs to come. As what the apostle Paul said, "He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time... (2 Timothy 1:9 NIV)"

Read 2 Timothy 1:8, 9, Acts 13:1-12, Romans 8:13, 14, and Isaiah 43:6, 7. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Page 137 of 365: On Nancy's Win

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I believe it's God who chose Nancy Angeles to be a senator.
I made a firm stand that I am not voting Nancy Binay-Angeles in the elections. Aside from being a staunch supporter of the proposed Anti-Political Dynasty Bill, I find her not fit for the Senate considering the lack of credentials enough to make her worthy. But the people have spoken. Angeles made it to the Top 5 to the surprise of many who thought the social media information, from the satires to the serious news, would be enough to enlighten everyone. I don't think we failed. The reality is there are still many who only rely on what they see on TV or hear on radio.

I agree with what many are saying right now. We should not blame the masses. Again, many still don't have access to social media, especially in remote areas, and only rely on the traditional media as mentioned above. Besides, pursuing change does not end in the elections. We have three years (actually more) to make it possible.

Another thing: like I mentioned in my previous election posts, it's still the Lord who will appoint the leaders. It's His will to allow Nancy win. One thing I saw from a friend's wall is 1 Corinthians 1:27: "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." Like him, I was rebuked. It's still Him who calls the shots. All we can do now is continue to trust Him and support her.

Even if I am not an aspirant, I concede. Congratulations Nancy. I hope you will let the Lord direct your six-year term in the Senate. I expect the best from you girl. God bless. (No sarcasm here)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Page 134 of 365: Post-Election Reflection

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I want change, so I made a stand.
I was among the millions who braved the drizzles, waited (im)patiently in the lines, and exercised their rights of suffrage yesterday. Being a registered voter in my town, I picked who for me are the right people to do the job in governing the nation for at least three years. To get more privacy, I even went out of the voting area (Yeah! I did that) to an open park. Now that the millions have spoken, I'm now waiting for the results. But according to the latest unofficial tallies, it looks like the eventual winners are now who I expected. As it stands, only two of the people I voted are in the Top 12. In a way, I already expected that.

Going back to my pre-election post, I mentioned that it will still be God who will decide who to place in the electoral seats. It comes in the way of allowing those who we not voted to get there. Ten of the Top 12 are in my snobs (still based on the media tallies).

All I can say now is that even if we're not satisfied with the results, we should still be thankful to God that He is still in control. Just continue to seek His kingdom and righteousness first, and everything will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). Continue to pray for the nation like how Jesus did (John 17:9). But more importantly, make your own contribution to the betterment of the nation.

The elections are just some of the ways for us to make a voice, but it doesn't end there. In the next three years, we should still be prayerful, faithful, and reliant to the Lord that He will bring change to the Philippines.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Page 130 of 365: Voice of People=Voice of God?

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Iglesia ni Cristo released its endorsement, but is its slate the group the Lord
wants to govern us?
Earlier in the week, the Iglesia Ni Cristo revealed who to support in the coming May 13 elections. Seven from the Liberal Party and five from UNA got the INC nod. The religious organization has been well known to exercise its suffrage rights as an entirety, or simply bloc voting. With about five million INC members, according to reports from TV5 and the People's Journal, expected to cast their votes on Monday, this, according to their doctrine, is a showing of their unity. That leads me to the slogan of the one handling the Monday event, the Commission on Election or COMELEC. COMELEC's slogan reads "Vox Populae Vox Dei", a Latin quote which means, "The voice of the people is the voice of God." I wonder, "Is this really true?"

For me, it's the other way around: the voice of God SHOULD BE the voice of the people. But either way, it's not the case in reality. If all the people will heed on what the Lord says, we should be expecting a unanimous vote. Ramon Revilla Jr, who was the top vote-getter in the 2010 senatorial race, got a majority vote (51%), but 51 is not 100. It's God's will to have Revilla in the Senate (I actually had him in my ballot), but it means that many had other plans. How about a more recent example: LeBron James (yes, this is an election-related post). James won the 2013 NBA Most Valuable Player, but only one guy who cast his vote thought James was not impressive enough and elected Carmelo Anthony. The rest voted for LeBron. Yes, it's God's will that LeBron will earn his fourth MVP, but not all voted him. The reason for these is that God also gave us free will. Because of that, we set our own standards in choosing our leaders. The chance of you seeing a person who voted all the 12 eventual winning senators is 1 over 354,817,320. With only 50,000,000+ registered voters, it's imminent that no one "will get it right".

Another reason why the voice of the people is not necessarily the voice of God is that not all will vote. In the 2010 polls, only barely more than 70% of the voters actually cast their votes. The others either had a hard time looking for their names or did not care voting at all. Most of them would fall in the second category. That's 10,000,000+ votes wasted! God is telling us to be the spark of change in our nation, and one way to do so is to elect the right officials. But some people would say, "Why do I need to vote? Nothing's happening in the government." If you're one of them, better change your mindset. God is telling you to vote, so don't waste that opportunity.

And lastly, bloc voting, in recent history, does not necessarily equate to a sure win. I don't know if the Manalos, the ones leading the INC, already told the press, "They are who God wants," but being a bloc voting church could make you conclude such. But going back, because the Lord gave us the right to establish our own standards, the people who have different political landscapes could make the difference. Another thing I found out: they're not actually required to vote all the endorsed candidates. While I'm pretty sure many INC people veer away with who their superiors endorse and elect according to their will, what some friends told me is that the voters who opt to support the endorsed aspirants can actually mark out at most four of them and replace them with their own. That's a probable reason why some endorsed aspirants still lost. (Update: An article from blogger Mark Madrona recapped the INC votes from 1998. Here, the INC votes dictated the pace of the 1998 polls, but in the later elections, some aspirants still lost, especially in 2007 where four crashed out.) That means God has other things to say. God's will also comes in the form of allowing things not favorable to you to happen. It's a proof that He's in control of our government.

I have nothing against Iglesia ni Cristo. I have some INC friends too. What I'm saying here is that God still has the ultimate power to appoint our leaders, and He gave us the power to choose. He gave us free will so that we could set a barometer of their competence. You might think, "Si Lord pala ang pipili eh. Why does He need my vote?" He assigned us to fulfill His will, and our vote is for the betterment of the nation. After the elections, even if your slate lost, support the elected and God-appointed leaders. Pray this prayer of Jesus Christ: "I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours (John 17:9 ESV)."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Page 119 of 365: What Not to Look For in a Leader

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Sometimes, to know who to vote, we tend to know who not to vote. Here are
some things an aspirant should not be. Philippine Star
Inspired by a blog post and the preaching last night, I made this article that may act as a guide for the coming May 13 election. Yes, you're reading the headline right. What makes a true leader different than the rest is that while all of us have leadership skills (believe it or not, you are a leader), he uses his leadership skills rightfully. But it also means some use their skills in a wrong manner. Here are some things you should NOT look for in a leader.

1. Selfishness

To be a leader means you are ready to give up everything for the sake of service. The sad reality is that most, if not all, of us don't like the idea of sacrificing something. My pursuit of covering the Palarong Pambansa was something I still held on to till the time the chosen media trooped to Dumaguete. When God told me to give it up, it was very difficult. He taught me not to be selfish and just think about Him. He also reminded that there is a more important thing than the Palaro. Curiously, giving up something can also be an act of selfishness. As exemplified above, sacrificing is giving up something important for another of a bigger importance. Sometimes, we agree to give up something because we look at the benefits. Being too focused on the prize is also selfishness. A leader should not be selfish, but selfless. Selflessness is exemplified through sacrificing for the right purpose. One example is of Katniss Everdeen of "The Hunger Games". She did not want her younger sister to get killed at an early age, so she took her place by volunteering to battle, knowing that she herself might get killed. Katniss sacrificed her life for Prim's life. By the way, it so happened that I was watching the movie on Star Movies and on the internet while finishing this. The best example, however, is of Christ (look at the Scripture below). If the Lord tells you to give it up, give it up. No ifs; no buts. Also, look to Him, not to the benefits.

2. No Direction

I ran thrice in my high school's student council elections, and my record is a staggering 0-3! The Lord revealed to me why, "OK. You're elected. You win. What's next?" A true leader should have a direction in life. Just like what a friend's blog post says (and I hate to admit it), each of us commits corruption of a certain kind. Just like in his example, if you exchange your vital vote for a certain amount or you elect him just because he's a homie, then you're corrupt (we'll get to the homie part later). Adding to those, we can also commit corruption. If you just want to get voted only to get some bragging rights, that's corruption (I'm guilty). The sad reality, many politicians just want to get the titles president, governor, mayor, councilman, etc., but would only use that for their own benefits. When asked about a change of jersey numbers during her team's volleyball match, former Ateneo Lady Eagle Fille Cainglet answered, "It's just for fun." I attest: that's the same answer I would say if I was asked why I wanted to be elected to the student council. Hopefully, that's not the reason the politicians have in mind on why they want to be elected. If you want to get an electoral spot, you should have a direction you want your area of jurisdiction to take ready too. I'm not saying that you should not vote for your homie, whether he's a friend or a family member. Being a friend or a close family member of a certain aspirant means you know him a lot. But I'm telling you that if he has no clear reason why he should be elected, better tell him, "It's not too late to back out."

3. Not Putting Jesus at the Center

I mentioned earlier that we are in a way corrupt. That's because we commit sin. Romans 3:23 gives you a clear answer on who among us are corrupt... ALL OF US! But Jesus Christ did the ultimate sacrifice. He died on the cross, and along with Him are our sins. Because of Him, we can now connect to God. Jesus is the perfect Leader because He is selfless. He sacrificed Himself just to save us from the bondage of sin. My challenge to the electoral candidates is that they should be like Christ, being selfless. However, I know they, in fact we, can't be Christlike by our own. We need Jesus to be our Master so that we can gain an attitude like His. One way to be Christlike is by putting the Lord at our center. Yes, He should not be last but also not the first. The Lord should be at the center of our lives. Meaning, He should have a sight of the things we do and make Him lead the way. We should let the Lord take control. My hope is that the politicians should have Christ at the center of their governance.

PS: The politicians will not tell us that they're selfish, directionless, and not looking at God's example. In the end, it's still your call. Talk to God on who to elect. Look at their credentials too, and ask yourself, "What do I want for my country?"

Read Philippians 2:3-11 to see the example of Christ.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Page 117 of 365: Another Reason to Read Your Bibles

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Noah's Ark is still lying on Mt. Ararat!
The Bible is one tool we Christians turn to in times we get into scenarios which could put our faith to the test. It indeed helps us in our walk with God because everything it says is true. In John 16:33, the Lord Jesus Christ tells us that we will engage in troubles, but also  He tells us that He already overcame it. He did that by taking our troubles along with our sin to the cross.

But the following video you're about to see will make you say, "Hey! The Bible is indeed for real!" In Genesis 8:4, it says that the Noah's Ark, after the Great Flood ended, rested for good on Mt. Ararat in what is now the country Turkey. In 2010, an expedition went to Ararat and saw this.
Read Genesis 6-9 for more.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Page 115 of 365: Post-Birthday Reflection

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My team may have given me a nice birthday gift, but
the Lord had a nicer plan on celebrating it.
Let's start with a Scripture: "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (Proverbs 27:1)"

I locked everything up for April 24 the day before. I booked a slot for the press conference of renowned figure skater Michael Martinez at the Royal View Seafood Restaurant in MOA. Then I also got a spot at Eastwood for a bloc screening of "Iron Man 3". Then I set to go to Victory Pioneer's first Wednesday service.

What happened? I made it to the Mike Martinez presscon and left there in time. But the traffic at EDSA from Roxas Boulevard to Taft Avenue was so heavy that it used up about 30 minutes of my time. I had to rush to the MRT only to find out that the train departed at exactly 4:00 PM, the time I and my fellow bloggers were supposed to meet at Eastwood. I made it to the Cubao area at around 4:20 PM. Then I checked the internet a bit to review the contacts for the bloc screening at Eastwood, which is a PHP10 (PHP8 if you're a student, senior citizen, or a PWD) jeepney fare away. But even the traffic at Aurora Boulevard and at Garcia Avenue, aka C5 did not help my cause as I made it to Eastwood just before 5:00 PM, a 25-minute ride on rush hour traffic. To make matters worst, while I presumed that we were to meet up at the Cyber Mall, the actual place was at the main mall. I arrived there, only to see the sponsors of the event, AppLabs, packing up. So I did not get a free ticket. I had a dilemma: should I buy an Iron Man 3 ticket or not? I set that aside as I found myself free to watch San Mig Coffee's game against Meralco at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. I rushed back to Cubao, bought a cartolina and a marker at a National Bookstore branch there, then headed to the Big Dome. The Mixers won, 90-82. Then I made my mind to buy a last full show ticket at Eastwood. So it's still "all's well that ends well" for me.

You see, even if it's your birthday, you might not get the way you want to celebrate it. What more in a normal day? That's a testament to the proverb above. Everything is not an accident. It's God who sets everything up for us. He gives us the blessings we need and even want, but He also allows trials to happen to us. They're all for a purpose: for us to acknowledge that the Lord makes our day. Let us thank the Lord for the breakthroughs. Let us also thank Him for the unanswered prayers because He knows better than us. Let us also thank Him for the trials, because we are sure that He will help us overcome them.

To the Lord, thank You for adding another year to my life. To all who greeted, thank you very much.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Page 109 of 365: When God Says No

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When you don't get the answer you want, just continue to trust God.
By this time, the chosen bloggers who will cover the Palarong Pambansa have already packed their things en route to Dumaguete. I expressed my desire to cover the games by registering at the Google Docs link given to us. I eagerly awaited for the email, but nothing came. In a more frustrating manner, I lost my SIM card too, so I don;t know if I received an SMS. To cut the long story short, with the addition of the tension at another sports event, the Boston Marathon, the Lord answered my prayer of covering the games (and celebrating my birthday at Dumaguete) with a no.

I was moved by Alex Castro's recent post on CIFL. Like him, it was difficult to accept that I wouldn't be able to cover the Palaro in flesh. What more celebrating my birthday in an uncharted territory (I'm not saying I've had enough celebrating April 24 either in Laguna, in Palawan, or in Metro Manila). But in the end, God's answer may not be what I want, but what I need.

God answers all our prayers, but the answers may not be in the way you think. Like I mentioned above, it's possible that He will answer no to our prayers. But think about this: the Lord knows what's good for us better than we are. With time running out and no email surfacing, I began to feel that big no. Then I was moved when the pastor at a Friday service exhorted and called us to surrender our desires. Then it became clear, "Sorry, Ivan," says the Lord. "I want you to give up on your pursuit." Again, it's hard to accept it, but that's what God says. The reason became clear when the Boston bombings happened, "I want you to be safe so that you can be happy come your 25th birthday," says God. I don't know if a terrorist attack will rock Dumaguete, but I hope the Lord will take care of them.

Like I mentioned, God's answer is not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. That weekend, I was moved with what I heard. From the exhortation in the Friday service to the preaching in the Sunday service and even to what my friend demands me of my prayer before we eat. God is telling me something, but I need to get clearer Words from Him. About what? I will not tell it here because it's a very serious and sensitive one.

Maybe your faith and actions are in sync, yet you haven't received the answers to your prayers. God will answer all of them, but it may not be in the way you wanted. Even if it's a no, hold on to the Lord. What He will provide you can give you more pleasure than the thing you want. Just trust Him.

Read Matthew 7:7-11, 1 John 3:11-24, and Psalm 119:4-6.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Page 90 of 365: Easter Reflection

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The EKstreme Tower Ride
I was invited again to Enchanted Kingdom to cover the Easter events there. While waiting for the events to take place, my blog squad was given a chance to try some of the rides. Being the daredevil that I am, I tried the EKstreme Tower Ride. I hopped on, saw the ride being elevated up above so high that I can see the entirety of the Laguna Lake and... BOOM! The sudden drop! I survived that ride, and I can't help but scream to express my reaction afterward. I'm not that of an acrophobic, but I wanted to jump out of the ride and say, "I quit!" After the ride, I even wanted to cuss! Being a Christian, I kept my poise.

One thing I realized after surviving the ride was, "I don't wanna jump from that high!" I also felt the feeling of committing suicide (or at least an accidental fall). I'm pretty sure it's so hard for someone to take his life. OK! This is not a late "I condemn Kristel Tejada" post. I am actually disappointed with the harsh comments she got like "She's a loser." But if I was a good friend of Kristel, I would have told her to keep her faith. Paul reminded Timothy in his second epistle to him that he should not get troubled by all the trials. Like Timothy, God has given us the Spirit that does "not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)."

A living proof of that was Jesus Christ. He declared in John 16:33 that He has already overcome the world. He proved that by returning to life in the third day after He was crucified. He brought along on the cross our sins and problems. This Easter, let's celebrate our victory through Him. You may experience downfalls that could drop you faster than gravity. But just like how the EK staff controlled the ride before we hit the ground, Jesus is here to keep us safe and provide for us. Don't give up! Let go and let God!

Read 2 Timothy 1:1-18 and 1 Kings 19:9-18

Friday, March 29, 2013

Page 88 of 365: Different Means, Same Gospel

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Remember His suffering not just during a Good Friday, but everyday.
Show your love to Him the same way He showed His love to us.
After covering an event at Enchanted Kingdom, I heard a strange sound from outside the multi-purpose hall. The curious that I am, I went outside, and from just below Anchors Away, the ship-themed ride at EK, yeba! There were theater actors, dancers, and a choral ensemble giving the theme park visitors a treat. But I was curious with one of the actors. He dressed up like Jesus. "But hold it! Why are they wearing modern-day clothes and some are kinda punks?" Then a group of actors "forcefully" brought the lead actor to the Brooklyn area to be "judged" by a guy in a cool purple suit named "King Herod". I watched the place-to-place theater show too long enough that I didn't notice my friend leaving me behind already.

Since I lost her for good (Nope! I didn't get friendzoned. She just invited me to cover the event.), I just decided to finish watching the play before leaving. That's Cenakulo Rock, the Lenten month presentation of Enchanted Kingdom. Although it is patterned after the 1973 flick "Jesus Christ Superstar", I found the punky concept kinda awkward. But still, I found the presentation a coming of age, because it was a present-age portrayal of the Lord's sacrifice for us.

Times change, and so do the ways to remember the Gospel. Now, we hear the then solemn "Pasyon" or "Pabasa" with a mix of hit songs like Gangnam Style. Then from the usual dramatic approach of the re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion in provinces comes Cenakulo Rock. But still, the same Gospel is being told. They remind us of how Jesus, being sinless, became "sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)." The injuries the theater actors have during the presentation and the pain we get every time we get hurt are no match to the sufferings of Jesus. He was mocked, tortured, crowned with thorns, spitted upon, and died in the most humiliating way just to save us from our sins. Being God, He kept His promise of coming back from the dead, and that's what happened on the third day. Now, we can have a direct relationship with God through His only begotten Son. Because of Him, we can now receive the gift of eternal life.

Yes, Cenakulo Rock or any means of telling the Gospel might bring you to tears, but if you don't take the Word of God to your heart, it will not make sense. Remember, "We all stumble in many ways (James 3:2a)." But because of Jesus Christ, we can stand up again and live to the fullest. This Lenten holidays, let's thank the Lord for His love that was showed to us through the cross. Remember His suffering not just during a Good Friday, but everyday. Show your love to Him the same way He showed His love to us.

Read James 3:2-18 and Proverbs 10:27-32.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Page 70 of 365: Being Spiritually Fit

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Working out at gyms will make you more physically fit, but how are we gonna
be spiritually fit?
Today marks the start of the International Fitness Week, a string of seven days to help promote fitness among us. But while many gyms are giving away promos, especially Fitness First, who is giving everyone a chance to workout in any of its branches for one week for free, to entice the people to trim those fats, build their muscles, become stronger, and have ripped bodies, there is another aspect in life that we should look at: spiritual fitness.

While we may become more physically fit during this week, we must also have our spiritual selves fit. But to become spiritually fit does not require work. In fact, we should not even struggle to become more intimate with God, the point of this post. I admit; I also had times when I feel like there's something wrong with my prayers every time they're unanswered. I feel anxious, restless, and afraid that the Lord will say a big no. To be spiritually fit, we must continue to trust God even if He will answer no to our prayers (He might even tell us to give up on our prayers and even repent). Just build upon the foundation of our spiritual fitness, which is our relationship with Him.

You don't need barbells, dumbells, kettlebells, or even a strict diet to become fit spiritually. To stay spiritually fit, just read His Word, pray according to His will, and take some advice from Godly friends. Attending a cell group is one good way to have people who will help you in your walk with the Lord. To become spiritually fit is to have "a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:10-12)"

Also read Colossians 1:9, 13-14.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Page 55 of 365: Two Temptations by Winn Collier

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For 25 years, Irmela Mensah-Schramm has walked the streets of Berlin, Germany, cleaning away the racist propaganda of neo-Nazi groups. Since 1986, Irmela has painted over graffiti and scratched away stickers (36,000 in the past 4 years). She believes she can overcome neo-Nazi ideology one street at a time.

When God placed Adam and Eve in Eden, all was theirs to enjoy, “except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). They couldn’t handle that knowledge, and eating its fruit would lead to death. The serpent arrived with the cunning suggestion that God was not to be trusted, however, and Eve listened. She was tempted in three distinct ways—temptations we all know: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16 NKJV).

Sadly, Eve yielded, and humans have yielded ever since. There is One, however, who did not yield. Just before Jesus began His public ministry, He was in the wilderness fasting for 40 days. And, again, the Tempter arrived. He used the same tactics, suggesting that Jesus take matters into His own hands. Satan suggested to Jesus:

• “Tell these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3).

• Toss Yourself from the pinnacle of the temple (forcing God’s hand to rescue Him before the right time, Matthew 4:6).

• Take over Jerusalem and imagine ruling over all the kingdoms of the world! (Matthew 4:8).

Jesus was tempted with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. But He didn’t yield. Jesus overcame the temptation that has ruined us—what we could never conquer. In every way, He does for us what we could never do on our own.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Page 52 of 365: Abstinence is Never an Excuse

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The student council election period is here again. Many students, from grade school to grad school, will exercise their right to elect the people who will be their voice in their respective academe. But here I am, pondering if I will vote. This is the first time that I think of abstaining. I only know a few of them personally. The others, "Who the heck are they?" Feeling that I might leave blanks for the first time in my life as a voter (I did not even leave any blank in the 2010 National Elections), I told my friend and churchmate, "Hey! I'm dead considering abstinence," especially after seeing one of the groups running for the student council posts doing a kinda (IMO) awkward way of campaigning (I'm not saying I don't like their style). And then she rebuked me, "You need to vote. If you want change, then show it by electing. (non-verbatim)"

Then I realized after reading "Contempt" by Foh Pang Chia, "Hey! Voting is also a way of worshiping God!" God wants change to our society, so even if He is the One who is placing the right people for the job, He gave us the power to place them there by allowing us to elect them. If we decide not to vote, then we just show contempt to the Lord. Contempt means a deep anger toward someone. During the Old Testament times, the people of Israel saw God's contempt toward them, all because they did not worship Him, did not serve Him, and disobeyed Him. Now, because of Jesus Christ, His anger over us is gone. However, He feels sad every time we do contemptuous things on Him, like abstinence from the good deeds, and He will make it feel to us.

As children of God, our votes bring change. Abstaining should not be a consideration. If we vote, we also glorify the Lord. The Lord wants revival in our schools, our offices, our community, our country, and the whole world, and He wants the change to start in us. Let's vote for the Lord!

PS: The only things that we should abstain: all appearances of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV).

Read Malachi 1:6-14, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Galatians 6:9, and 2 Thessalonians 3:13.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Page 50 of 365: Failure Isn't Final by Jeff Olson

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Credits: Our Daily Journey

Failure isn't final. A man in the Bible who experienced that firsthand was John Mark—an assistant to Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:5). We don’t know all that his role entailed, but it likely involved doing behind-the-scenes work like buying supplies and cooking meals, along with some public ministry. He handled some of the day-to-day responsibilities of life so that Paul and Barnabas could focus on their mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus.

Shortly into their journey, however, John Mark bailed on Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:13). We can only speculate as to the reason he left. Maybe he got homesick. Maybe he got sick of being simply a helper. Whatever the reason, it's clear that when Paul and Barnabas were counting on him, he let them down.

Some time later, Paul and Barnabas planned to go back and check on the new believers they had led to Jesus during their initial missionary journey. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark again, but Paul would have nothing to do with it. He was against the idea because of John Mark’s past failure. The two men disagreed so strongly over the issue that they parted ways. Barnabas took John Mark with him while Paul asked Silas to join him (Acts 15:36-41).

It must have been tough on John Mark to see the relational fallout he had caused, but he chose to minister faithfully with Barnabas. Even Paul later changed his tune. In a letter to Timothy, the apostle wrote, “Bring [John] Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).

Earlier, John Mark clearly failed to come through. But his life shows us that just because he had failed in the past didn’t mean God couldn’t use him in the future.

In God’s eyes, failure isn't final.

Read Acts 13:4-13 and Psalm 51

Thursday, February 14, 2013

God Wants to be Your Number 1

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That guy sitting near the door, that's me!
I was one of the actors in Segatron's latest hit music video "Magnum". The song is about courtship. The story is of a guy's plead to be the girl's number 1 in her heart even if he has a bunch of competitors. It was a star-studded music video as the mini-movie was graced by actress Francine Prieto, Giniling Festival's drummer Marco Ho, more popularly known as the Youtube sensation Bogart the Explorer, and the most handsome sports, Christian, and now travel and events blogger right now, me! Just joking.

Kidding aside, though, a revelation from the Lord came to my mind after watching the video on Youtube (Segatron, a band composed of newly-graduated UPLB alumni led by Silver Alcabasa, uploaded the MV on the video sharing site more than a week after it made Myx's OPM hitchart). I think "Magnum" could be what God is singing to us. He's telling us that your wife/husband or girlfriend/boyfriend should be just your number 2. I'm not saying that you should break up with him/her and find a new one. It's God Himself who is singing, "Gusto Kong magnumber 1 sa puso mo. (I want to be number 1 in your heart.)" God showed to us that we are His number 1 when He gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Even if we all have sinned and have fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), He died for us (5:8).

All God wants for us is to make Him number 1 in our lives; not just first but the center of everything. This love season, if you still not show your affection for Him, do it by making Him our personal Lord and Savior. If you already did it, thank Him through your prayers for loving you unconditionally.

Colossians 3:17-And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

PS: Check out the music video of "Magnum" here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Page 44 of 365: Get Rid of Sexual Pests

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True love is not what the world says about it, but what God says.
When you hear everything about love, you know Valentine's is in the air. However, most, if not all, of the concepts you hear about Valentine's, and love are what the world says about them. Be aware that these could be spiritual pests that Paul warns us not to tolerate.

This season of love, don't let the world dictate their definition of love to you. Some would say, "This is trending," or "It's OK to do this," or "What the heck is that statement? It's already an old cliche!" But remember that in a relationship, the Lord should be the center. Our definition of love should be based on what the Bible says. The sexual pests, like premarital sex, friends with benefits, etc, should be completely eradicated of our mindsets and let the truth of the Scriptures fill our wisdom. This Valentine's season, be different. Love your loved ones the way God loves us.

Read Galatians 5:16-26, Colossians 3:5-17, and Ephesians 4:25-32.

Remember the Reason for Valentine's

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A relationship should be Christ-centered, and they should love Him more than
they love each other.
I read this book by Stanley Chi entitled "Pogi Points", and I skimmed to this part about scoring some pogi points at the girl you're courting while at church. Being a comedian, we should find Chi's tips funny. However, for those who will follow his tips, I'm gonna add one more thing.

For boys, if you're sincere in trying to win her heart, it's OK if you escort her to church, attend their cell groups, and even join her ministries, but ask yourself this: "Am I gonna glorify God here?" In a relationship, whether it's friendship, dating, or marriage, everyone should make sure that it's a God-centered one. If you're courting her but you're not putting Him at the center of your relationship, reconsider first. Ask the Lord if He chooses her for you.

For girls, ask the Lord for a revelation about his intents. Make Him be your decision-maker before saying that word called "yes". If he's not yet saved but is serious on courting you, have the initiative to introduce him to Jesus Christ. Also, help him grow in his relationship to Him.

This season of love, let's remember the true reason why we love: Because God "loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10b)" So we should show our love to each other the same way God does.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Page 32 of 365: Not by Mouth

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Page 32 of 365: Not by Mouth
Being a Christian should be shown, not declared.
I was at a certain business meeting in Tagaytay City when the boss of the hotel who is also presiding the meeting found me not "UP-ish". When he asked my blogger friend, "Who is he? Does this guy even finished grade school?" my friend introduced me to who I really am: "He's Ivan, a UP student." My friend told me that he, who graduated at Harvard (that Harvard) and tends to befriend only those of the so-called Big 4 (i.e. UP, Ateneo, UST, and La Salle), was surprised.

After hearing it, plus what I learned during my quiet time earlier in the morning, it's also possible that like what happened earlier, many could not notice that you're a Christian at first. Maybe because you tend to do things that are concealing your relationship with Jesus Christ. Being an athlete, I at times get to be emotional in the game, whether it's basketball, ultimate, or even Warcraft and Counter-Strike, especially when things go out of hand. After a very bad spiritual birthday "celebration" two weeks ago, I am making a resolution to keep composed even if I'm losing and just have fun.

I hope as well that I will not be like the sluggard the King Solomon described in Proverbs, who because of fear and not doing anything got into trouble. I pray to God as well that He will continue to teach me how to be a Christian not by mouth but through actions too. As the old saying goes, "Action speaks louder than words."

Read Proverbs 12:27, 19:24, 22:13, 24:30-34, 26:13-15

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Page 26 of 365: Small Things Can be Bigger Than You Think

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No matter how small the seedlings we sow, we will reap great harvest from it.
-Our Daily Journey
During the time that my church here was about to start the first phase of its building expansion project, I thought, "They need a huge sum for this." But thank God that the expanded main hall was finished. How? Despite situated in an area where the source of income of most of its constituents is their allowance, many were touched by the Lord to give to the project.

As what I heard from a preaching a few months back, no matter how small your offering is, it's generosity. Even if it's a million or just two cents, like the case of the poor widow in Mark 12:41-43 and Luke 21:1-3, as long as you give it to the church, God will be pleased. I believe God is touching me after reading Haggai 1:1-10, that I, a Sunday School alumnus, should help in improving our Sunday School, one of the focuses of the second phase of the church expansion project. Here's my answer to Jesus Christ: I'm in!

Also read Exodus 35:4-29

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spiritual Birthday Special: On Being a Leader and a Follower

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To be a successful group, each member must embrace his role.
Today, I remember the time I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. However, someone shared me this problem. For my special 13th SB post, I'll try to answer this concern based from the Scriptures. Note: This is based on a true story. I altered the names to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Here we go! Guy A is the leader of a group where he and Guy B are a part of. However, Guy B finds Guy A a little bit too strict; too strict that B has had enough of A, especially when A told B to do some things and not to do some others. B is upset to A and even if A wanted to apologize for his "harsh" actions, B can't simply accept it.

Here's my advice. For Guy B, just follow Guy A; no more if and buts. If there's a reason why he's strict, that's because he and even the other members want order and organization in the group. The leader knows what is best for the welfare of the group. His strictness is only there when  you're at work. But outside of it, he is (and should be) very friendly. As they say, "Walang personalan. Trabaho lang." If he thinks he was too harsh, he will apologize. Also, accept his apology and apologize to him. For Guy A, on the other hand, being a leader, you must be sensitive to your comrades' needs. Like Guy B, some of your members can be too sensitive when they get some sermons. Talk to your sensitive comrades and tell them that it's just for the betterment of the organization. Also, if you have new members, brief them why you're doing this and that. If your members find problems, don't hesitate to help them.

To sum it up, an old saying goes like this: To lead is to follow and to follow is to lead.

My advice can be encapsulated in this verse: John 15:13 (KJV)-Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Page 19 of 365: Flashback

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A simple play in ultimate made me recall my past near-death experiences.
One time, at a game of ultimate (i.e. Frisbee), I collided with my teammate while trying to steal the disc from the opposing side. While he hurt his right arm, I had a more painful "knockout". Aside from hurting my rib cage and left pectoralis, I didn't feel my heart beating for a couple of seconds. And it was like, "Wow! Am I going to die?" Well, I survived, went on to finish the game, and doing this article right now.

All of a sudden, my two near-death experiences flashed back. "Is this the real feeling of dying?" I thought. It's almost eight years already, but I remember what I posted in 2011, when TLIMC was still part of my sports blog. Having my third life is in itself a miracle from God, so I have to cherish this one.

You see, our lives in itself is a miracle from the Lord. God gave us life so that we could experience His majesty here on earth while He prepares our permanent home in heaven. It was through the miraculous hands of the Lord that we see injuries healed, lives restored, etc. Let's thank Him for what He has done and what He is about to be done.

Read Daniel 4 and Genesis 50:20.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Page 18 of 365: Massive Temptation by Jennifer Schuldt

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ice cream
"I was driving down a busy road when an 8-foot ice- cream cone approached in the oncoming traffic lane and then sailed past me. I blinked and checked my rearview mirror. The towering tribute to mint chocolate chip, an advertisement for a local restaurant, definitely tempted my sweet tooth!

No stranger to temptation, Jesus challenged His followers to stay alert and pray so that they would not give in to it (Matthew 26:41). He also reminded them that although “the spirit is willing . . . the body is weak.”

Jesus knew all about the weakness of our physical bodies, having endured a time of solitude and fasting in the wilderness (Luke 4:2). After 40 days of hunger, He was challenged by Satan to change a stone into bread. But Jesus used Scripture to resist the devil’s ploy (Luke 4:4).

Satan tried another tactic: lying. After showing Jesus all the world’s kingdoms, he said, “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them . . . because they are mine” (Luke 4:6). Huh? I don’t think so. Jesus is and was clearly in charge of the world (Colossians 1:16). Consider what He said about Satan and his lying ways (John 8:44).

Still, Satan exaggerated his power to try to coax Jesus into worshiping him. God’s Son resisted, saying: “You must worship the Lord your God” (Luke 4:8). After another failed attempt, Satan “left Him until the next opportunity came” (Luke 4:13).

Satan is always looking for His next chance to tempt us as well (1 Peter 5:8). That’s why we need to guard against weakness and isolation through accountability with fellow believers. We can also memorize Scripture that will help us face and defeat temptation. Then we’ll be equipped to resist the devil and send him packing (James 4:7)."

Read Luke 4:1-13, Genesis 3:7-19, and 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Page 17 of 365: Blessings in Disguise

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Storms will come, but Christ has already weathered them.
Everyday, we are faced with challenges. They can come in the form of direct problems (kinda hard exams, too much errands, etc.), but they can also come in the form of things not going your way. Take the family of Mike Wittmer for example. In his article in Our Daily Journey, Wittmer wrote that because of a storm, they had to delay their planned vacation. If I'm Mike, I would really not like it.

But think about it. The Lord could be speaking at these trials. In the case of the Wittmers, God wants them to be safe, so He's telling Mike to thwart their plans for the meantime. Maybe the Lord is telling us something while we're experiencing our own trials. To cut the long story short, Christ wants us to hold on to His plans. He will never harm us. In fact, we will prosper because of Him (Jeremiah 29:11). All He wants is for us to trust Him on why He's delaying our provisions, postponing our plans, or allowing the trials to come our way.

Back to the story of Mike Wittmer, God kept them safe by telling Mike not to push through with the vacation and move it to the next day. When he called the airline ticketing office for the decision, guess what he got: five round-trip tickets to a place of his choice! It's a simple evidence that trials are blessings in disguise! Just hold on to God's plans, because He has already overcome the world (John 16:33).

Read Psalm 104 and Matthew 6:25-34. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Page 16 of 365: Enemies by Tim Gustafson

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David Spares Saul's Life
"Don't kill him. He is still our king."
I am forced to preach under something of a handicap this morning,” said Dr. Martin Luther King on a November day in 1957. His physician had instructed him to stay in bed, but King insisted on speaking.

Paraphrasing the words of Jesus, he declared to the congregation at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama: “You have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).

As an African-American living in the southern United States, which was stained with the sin of racism, Dr. King preached under an even more virulent handicap that gave his words all the more validity. “How do you go about loving your enemies?” he asked. “Begin with yourself. There might be something within you that arouses the tragic hate response in the other individual... When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it.”

As we consider our enemies and the animosity we harbor toward them, we’re wise to remember that we were once enemies of God! (Romans 5:10.) But now, as we have believed in Him, “our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” (Romans 5:11). We now have the “task of reconciling people to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:18). That’s why God tells us not to avenge ourselves, but rather leave it to God who says, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back” (Romans 12:19).

The way to defeat our enemies is to show them the astonishing, Spirit-filled love of God.

Source: Our Daily Journey

Read Matthew 5:38-47, 1 Samuel 24, and Romans 5:10

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Page 15 of 365: Just a Shade by Tom Felten

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In the movie Inception, technology allows people to tap into others’ minds by dream invasion. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), the flawed hero in the flick, lost his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) when she committed suicide due to the delusional effects of memory inception within a dream state. Mal, however, keeps vividly appearing to Dom when he’s in a dream state. Finally seeing the need to let this pseudo Mal go, Dom says to her, “I can’t imagine you with all your complexity, all your perfection, all your imperfection.... You’re just a shade of my real wife.... I’m sorry, you are just not good enough.”

At times, the Jesus we have in our minds is just a shade of His true reality. Instead of experiencing the power of His presence within us (1 Peter 1:5; Colossians 1:27), we grasp for Him merely when we’re in a state of fear or need. Instead of living with “great expectation” (1 Peter 1:3) of being with Him forever, we experience a dull and persistent dread as we encounter the imperfections of life.

Peter provides some words to snap us out of our dreamlike state and to help us embrace the reality of life in Jesus: “[We] love Him even though [we] have never seen Him. Though [we] do not see Him now, [we] trust Him” (1 Peter 1:8). Through our “faith” (1 Peter 1:5), we experience a moment-by-moment “joy” (1 Peter 1:8) that comes from knowing Jesus and walking with Him. When we face trials (1 Peter 1:6), we’re not alone. Jesus allows us to be tested by the fire of difficulties so that our faith in Him will be purified and perfected (1 Peter 1:7). And one day, our “reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of [our] souls” (1 Peter 1:9).

Don’t simply exist in a shade of Jesus. By faith, experience His true reality today.

Read 1 Peter 1:3-9 and 1 Corinthians 13:12

Monday, January 14, 2013

Page 14 of 365: Life in the Vine by Winn Collier

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Most people say I look like my father. When I was in the third or fourth grade, a young girl looked at my dad and me and exclaimed, “Look, twins!” Like most sons, I was eager to grow taller and gain some muscle. I wanted to grow up and be like my dad. There wasn’t much I could do to make it happen, however. I hoped and wished and did my best to eat all my vegetables; but for the most part, I simply had to wait.

Immersed in a culture familiar with vineyards, Jesus used the imagery of grapes growing on vines to explain how those who follow Him are to receive life and grow to full maturity. The characters in the vineyard are set. Jesus is “the true grapevine,” the “Father is the gardener,” and “[we] are the branches” (John 15:1,5). The roles are straightforward, but much trouble ensues whenever we confuse them.

Life flows to the branches through the vine. The vine consistently and freely provides all the nutrients the branches need in order for fruit to flourish. The branches simply soak it up, stay nestled in their restful place, and allow fruit to be produced. Jesus makes His point clearly: “A branch cannot bear fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me” (John 15:4).

To remain is to stay, to rest, to dwell (or live). In other words, our job is to live obediently in Jesus and then see God’s life flow through us, causing beautiful and luscious fruit to appear. On our own, we will only whither and die. Without God, we will be useless because “apart from [Jesus, we] can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Want real life that produces lasting fruit and glorifies God? Remain in Jesus.

Read John 15:1-17

Page 13 of 365: Sound of Silence

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Peter was rebuked by God when He sent an angel to tell him that he should
spread the Gospel to the Gentiles too, like Cornelius.
I went home to Metro Manila to be with my mom, who spent the weekend there. After I brought her to the airport for her trip back to Puerto Princesa, I went to Mandaluyong to attend the 4 PM service of Victory Pioneer. I never thought, however, that it will be a message that will pierce our hearts.

We, the jampacked congregation, listened to the Word of God, and we were silent for a moment when Pastor Robert Hern spoke that the Holy Spirit clarifies our wrong mindsets. Why are we so silent? That's because we have a lot of wrong mindsets that could make us misinterpret what the Bible says. Yes, the Holy Spirit will give me specific instructions and will remind me of the Scriptures, but about correcting the misconceptions about the Word of God, I was totally rebuked and corrected by the Lord there.

My challenge is that if we want a clear direction this year, let's listen to the Holy Spirit carefully. Let us not make our own conclusion about the verses. Let the Lord tell you what you should do. Let the Holy Spirit give you the divine guidance you need.

Read 1 Timothy 4:6-5:2, 2 Timothy 1:1-7, and Acts 11:1-18

Page 12 of 365: Will They Really Come?

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For the past week, we prayed, fasted, and believed for our breakthroughs to come this year, but there will come a time that we begin to ask questions like "Why are they taking too long, Lord?" We all claim the promise that God will supply us all our needs (Philippians 4:19), but still, we ponder if they will come.

God will answer all of our prayer requests this year, but they could not come in the form of yeses. Here are the possible answers:

1. No-The Lord can veto our prayer requests. The best reason is that it's not according to His will. Yes, He's willing to answer our prayers, but check out the root word: will. Meaning, it's His will that prevails. He says no to our prayer because either you're not yet ready to do it (you need to continually grow in the faith) or He has a better plan (His plans are ALWAYS better than ours).

2. Wait-The Lord can also train our patience by putting our blessings on hold for a while. More likely, God is saying, "Yes! I will give to you your provisions, but it's not yet the right time." He's telling us to persevere more.

3. Yes-And of course our favorite answer. If it's according to His will and timing, they will come.

To sum it up, if your prayers are in line with God's plans and time, expect the Lord to give them to you. For the meantime, continue seeking Him.

Read Matthew 21:23-46 and Genesis 3:1-6

PS: To inspire you more to believe God for your breakthroughs, here are some of the prayers answered during the prayer and fasting week: Stories from the 2013 Prayer and Fasting

Friday, January 11, 2013

Page 11 of 365: Prayer Life Doesn't Stop in the End of Fasting

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Praying should not stop after fasting.
The fasting period comes to a conclusion today, but that doesn't stop me and the rest of my crew to believe for the breakthroughs this year. There are three things we must remember as we are about to break the fast.

Firstly, we must pray continually. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the apostle Paul reminded the Thessalonian church to never stop praying. That should be our goal this year too. Secondly, we should persevere. Just like how Jacob persevered when he literally wrestled with God to get his blessings, we must hold on to His promises. And lastly, we should be expectant... Oh wait! The better term is ANTICIPATING. Although expectation and anticipation are synonymous, there's a difference between the two. In expecting, you are looking forward to a certain event, whether it's positive or negative, but in anticipating, you're optimistic and positive that the breakthroughs will come.

The fasting period may be finished, but I hope that our prayer life will continue.

Read Acts 12:1-17, Exodus 17:11, 12, Genesis 20:17, 18, Genesis 32:24-28, Judges 13:8-13, Luke 2:21-24, 39, Deuteronomy 4:5-9, Proverbs 22:6

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Page 10 of 365: WWJD?

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As we are about to finish fasting, we are starting to feel the Holy Spirit moving in our lives as we believe by faith for our breakthroughs, but I know that there are times that you think, "Will God really answer my prayer?" Whether you're a baby Christian or a believer for more than a decade like me, we just can't deny that we worry if God will answer our requests or not.

But God's Word earlier tonight really moved me as I continue to hold on to the Lord's promises. I was reminded that God never breaks His promise. In fact, He already swore to us like how He swore to Abraham. We are reminded that the Lord is greater than everything here on earth. He can answer all of our prayers willingly. Also, He will never change. The Lord "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)" Also, even "if we are faithless, He remains faithful... (2 Timothy 2:13)"

The question: WWJD or What would Jesus do? Everything! What we can do is that we should "not be afraid or discouraged... For the battle is not yours, but God's. (2 Chronicles 20:15b)" Also, be reminded of James 5:16-The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Do what Colossians 4:2 says too-Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Lastly, even if we haven't received our breakthroughs, remain in faith that God will answer them all.

Read: Colossians 4:2-6, Luke 4:22, John 4, John 8:3-11, Acts 16:24-34, Psalm 118:5, 2 Chronicles 20:15-20, James 5:13-16, Hebrews 6:13-18 especially the Message translation, Romans 11:33, Luke 18:27, Psalm 108-4, Hebrews 13:8, Psalm 102:25-27

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Page 9 of 365: Being at the Middle of the Fast

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Page 9 of 365: Being at the Middle of the Fast
We may feel tired right now, but let us not stop consecrating
ourselves not for people but for God.
We have come to a point where we feel the hunger. Even I, who am doing a Daniel fast (fruits, vegetables, and liquids), feel the urge to eat meat and rice. This is the time in which we are considering giving up. But we still stand firm in consecrating, i.e. setting aside, ourselves for the Lord's revelations.

But Jesus warns us to not use this prayer and fasting period for glory-hunting. In sports, glory-hunting refers to the act of ending your support for one team looking for a strong team to support just to make you happy. Simply speaking, glory-hunting refers to the act of looking for means to brag yourself. Jesus calls those who just do the good deeds to seek approval from the other people as hypocrites. Christ is just telling us that we should not tell the world, "Look! I'm participating in the prayer and fasting!" just for their approval. In the first place, we can't please everyone. The Lord already knows that we're doing it to glorify Him, and He's delighted in that.

As we brace for the latter part of our fast, let us remember that we don't need to brag ourselves to others. God is already happy that we put Him at the center of our lives.

Read: Matthew 6:1-18, Mark 7:24, Proverbs 27:2, Acts 10:24-48, Acts 16-31, Luke 19:8-10, 1 Corinthians 16:15, 1 Timothy 2:3, 4, 2 Timothy 1:5, Joshua 24:15