The Lost Sheep

I feel I am not worthy to write about God and the things of above. Before sitting down for this, I was bothered by these thoughts: so you want to tell people about God but here you are, you just committed another sin. Forget about writing about God, do not be a hypocrite, no one will listen to a sinner. Forget about writing at all, don’t waste your time. And I almost believed the lies. True, I am a sinner, I am the lost sheep. The lies are that I am not worthy and that no one will listen.

Just when I am about to get on my feet in the spiritual battle and find my purpose, I find myself attacked and fallen.  Sometimes we think, God allowed it trying to take on the responsibility of our choices.  Yet God allows choices, and I choose to do those sins.  I go out of the fence and wander far from Him. It is a dark and dangerous field out there and I find myself being beaten down time and again, by my thoughts, my actions – deceived time and again. 

I asked God, don’t you get tired of looking for me and taking me back?  I accused Him of letting all these happen.  Why cannot He just keep me safe in the fence and so my life will be happy?  Why give me the freedom to wander off and hurt myself and others?  I cried to Him, I am so tired of trying to understand and fight and do what you want me to do and I am so tired of this life, there is just no way that I will be perfect, holy and a Christian.  Even my tears are tired of falling, my heart tired of breaking.  Everything about me is just simply tired, but the irony of it all, in the tiredness I didn’t let go of the rein of my life, I didn’t turn over my life to God.  I held on to it with my remaining strength, trying to fix things, trying to figure things out. 

God, on the other hand, in His faithfulness continue to prod me, silently calling out to me, seeking me, and keeping me.  I know He does.  I cannot explain how I know, yet I believe with all my heart the only reason I still have my sanity and that I am still breathing and writing this right now is God keeping me and keeping His covenant with me.  And He is asking me, aren’t you tired of trying to make sense of your life?  Why don’t you rest in me? 

I wish I can tell you it happened overnight.  That I heard Him and accepted the invitation at once without arguing; that at the point I accepted and rest in Him, things got better.  It was a process that for some would take a while for others longer. Finally giving in and resting in Him, there was peace, there was true joy in me.  But one incident, one memory, one harsh reality and boom!!! a huge wave of thoughts and feelings rush back. I try to run away but it caught me.  I try to stay afloat while it beats down on me.  Truly, me of little faith.  Forgetting the Anchor, forgetting to fix my gaze on Jesus.  Things didn’t get better overnight, but gradually, in little steps, in little moments, with the graces of God, smaller battles are won.  It may take a little more time for me to be truly okay, or maybe I won’t be entirely okay and memories will bring me emotions that will challenge my peace and joy, yet I pray to be anchored to His truth, that in this world, I will have troubles, and I have to take heart and remember that Jesus has overcome the world and has been victorious and in that my hope lies, my rest is in Him.

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18 NIV

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11 NIV

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16 NIV

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 62:1 – 2 NIV
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Jesus Owns You

In the Philippines, especially in its capital Manila, the roads are filled with these rowdy jeepneys – the engine sound, the sudden stops, the blings and stickers on their bodies.  As a driver, you would want to stay as far away from them as possible which is an impossible feat in the metro.  These jeeps would often have names written on their body or hanged on the back, sometimes stickers of zodiac signs, artwork, or the face of Jesus, others hang signs like “God bless our trip” or some pinoy hugot or humor quotes.

As I was done with my first trip this morning and on my way to the second one, I was already getting cheesed off with the bad Manila traffic, the buses and pedestrians, the chaos so early on a Monday morning.  And it’s a Monday.  Half-way to my second destination, this jeep cut me and I was about to lose it when I saw what’s written on its side “Jesus Owns You” and it spells JOY.

So simple.  3-letter word.  3 words.  Says it all.  It occurred to me how we all strive and struggle to be happy, to find peace, to be filled with joy – the joy that the world can never ever take away from us.  We search, we seek, we ask, we knock yet often we are left asking for more or asking more questions.  All along, what Jesus is telling us, what God wants from us, is to be owned by Him – yet we cannot have that.  I am my own, this is my life – don’t we all say that and live that?  I want joy but I want my life to be my own as well.  Hmm… I really don’t know how we can work around that when JOY is simply being owned by Jesus.

What does it mean to be owned by Jesus and why do most of us resist?

To be owned even just by someone is to be a slave of that person, to obey and act on that person’s commands.  Didn’t God give me

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Living on a Prayer

So you should pray like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
as we have forgiven those who are in debts to us.
And do not put us to the test,
but save us from the evil one.”

– Matthew 6:9-13

And this is how we ought to pray.  Not by memorizing the Lord’s prayer but by truly understanding what it meant.

To declare His glory and to make known His love; to submit to His will; to ask not only for the daily provisions of life but for the bread of life as well – the Word of God, the presence of Jesus in our lives; to forgive others and acknowledge that we are sinners and humbly lay down our sins at the feet of the cross; to pray for strength for we know that our flesh is weak; to acknowledge our salvation.

When we find it in our hearts struggling to submit to His will, or to forgive – let us pray for these struggles because we are weak and He is strong.  Let us not depend on our strength but rely on His.  And in times we do not know what to pray, or when we even cannot utter a single word to pray, a tear drop is a prayer that the Lord fully comprehend.  A deep sigh from a tired soul, a silence, a sob from a broken heart – all these and more the Lord sees and hears as our prayers.

The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness.  For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our heart knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.
– Romans 8:26-27

Pray, and listen.  The Lord delights in speaking to us when we pray.

Amate i Vostri Nemici

Love your enemies.

Simple.  Direct.  Crazy.  But, why should I?  How could I?

In theory, it’s already hard to postulate.  In practice, what more?  The world sees this as the craziest idea – a world that demands justice, revenge, vengeance sugar-coated into something we sometimes use as ‘I’m just teaching him a lesson’ or ‘He deserves it’.  Oh, how kind of us, teaching lessons, giving deserving presents!  And the world who loves gossips and dramas would be against a person who quietly accepts persecution and forgives – corny, boring, stupid.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.’  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.  If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38 – 42

Personally, I struggle with this command.  It’s just too hard to comprehend and it goes against lessons the society has taught me growing up.  I look at a society that demands Continue reading

BLEST ARE THE MERCIFUL

BLEST ARE THE MERCIFUL

Truly, God, in His Mercy, takes care and provides for His flock.  For me to be able to join the recent World Youth Day in Krakow is a miracle in itself.  He has converted the ‘yes’ into a possibility.  I had my reservations going into this trip – with all the chaos going on in most parts of Europe, then as we were nearing our departure via Turkish Airlines, there was bombing in the airport followed by a failed coup less than a week before we leave.  The trials never stopped there but with the loving mercy of our Lord, He has went ahead and prepared a way for us.

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Litomerice, Czech Republic.

 Everything that comes into our lives is a moment of encounter with God.

From the homily by Fr. Bert during the Eucharistic celebration last July 25, 2016 at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Litomerice, Czech Republic.

It’s not only in the extravagant events or in the ‘fireworks display moment of our lives’ that we encounter God but also in the little moments and sometimes, for us, trivial events that He is there, nudging us, knocking in our hearts, presenting Himself to be recognized by our soul.  And it is easy to be distracted and to not see God in the midst of the noise and the activities, with the world presenting you with so much diversions, with sceneries and oh the potatoes. When we were reminded that Continue reading

Ask! And Don’t Stop There

Before you conclude, before you even think about walking away or convincing yourself of your assumptions – ASK!

How can you know, when you never asked?  How can you be certain, when you never inquired?  How can you conclude with only assumptions?  Maybe it’s time to stop being ASSuming and ASK! 😛

Okay, this post was really intended to  just be my thoughts about the many misunderstandings that we encounter.  However,

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What The Lily Taught Me

Last Wednesday, I got a Stargazer from the flower market on my way to work.  It’s a flower I’ve always wanted to have beside me, cos of it’s wonderful color and fragrance.  Little did I know I’d be reminded so much by this lily.  More than just appreciating how lovely they are and how nice they smell, they reminded me of life’s brevity, God’s glory, God’s providence, and His amazing grace.

As I see a bud opens up, I’m reminded of Matthew 6:28-31.  Why worry?  See the beautiful flowers in the field, even in the short span of their life, how pretty the Lord has dressed them without them toiling that even Solomon was never dressed as lovely as them.   How much more, then, that God will provide for us?  It also showed me how these fragile creatures never hold back in showing off their beauty to bring glory to their Maker.

Today, one of the lily has withered and it reminded me of life’s brevity; that beauty is fleeting, what is important is to praise God (Proverbs 31:30); of God’s faithfulness in the frailty of this life (Isaiah 40:8);  and the will of the Lord. (James 4:13-16).

It is in the little things, even the tiny flower that springs up from a crack in the pavement, that teaches us the greatest lessons.  Often, it is in the things we take for granted.  So always keep your eyes, ears and heart open, cos our Father is always speaking to us. (: