Just My Thoughts

God Didn’t Know

There was a bombing in Cagayan de Oro last July, and my girls heard us talking about it. We usually entertain their questions about what’s happening in the world. I can’t remember anymore what other thing we were talking about, but Danae was saying that God protected so and so, that’s why he or she is still alive. Noelle then said that GOD DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE BOMB IN CAGAN DE ORO (this is how she pronounces it), THAT’S WHY SOME PEOPLE DIED.

In Noelle’s mind, if God knew about it, He would have done something to protect those people for sure. But since they died, God must not have known about it.

Of course I reminded her of the truth that God knows everything. I told her that He did know about the bomb even before it happened. Naturally, the next question from Danae was, WHY DIDN’T GOD DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT?

I told my girls that there are times that God allows things to happen for a reason. Many times, we don’t understand why, but we have to continue to trust in Him because He is always good, He has a plan and He knows better. They accepted it, and it hasn’t come up again….YET.

Don’t these thoughts appear in our minds as well, when bad things happen? If God is so good and He knows everything that will happen, why does He let the bad things “slide”? If God is so powerful, why doesn’t He use His power to rid the world of evil and let good prevail?

Well if I knew all the answers, I would BE GOD. But I’m not. Neither are you. So let’s just trust the One who IS. He knows the big picture. He knows the whole story and every detail of it. He knows every single person that He created, He knows their hearts and minds, He knows their destiny. He knows how it’s going to play out and He knows how it’s going to end. He is everywhere at all times. He is almighty and He can do anything. He is sovereign and He can do what He wants with the world and His people. He is also infinitely wise and strategic. He is just, merciful and gracious. He is unchanging.

But most importantly, He loves us.

Why don’t we ever question it when good things happen to us? Why is it so easy for us to receive them, to assume that it is the way it is supposed to be? Why do we think we deserve goodness? Why don’t we ever wonder why we are still breathing, strong and healthy today? Why don’t we ever wonder why we have such amazing kids, or a fruitful career, or faithful friends, or a loving family, or incredible opportunities?

Funny how we attribute bad events to God’s work or His “passivity,” and attribute good things in our lives to chance, luck, or our own ability.

The truth is we deserve nothing. We are sinners and we deserve nothing but death. And yet, God deemed us worthy of His Son’s life — a full life for us here on earth and eternal life afterwards, in exchange for Jesus’ death on the cross. Despite OUR sin that separated us from our Creator, He wants us back. He loves us that much. We are getting the complete opposite of what we deserve. As if giving us “The Ticket” (Jesus) to get to heaven when we die is not enough, He gives us His presence, favor, grace, blessings now as we live our earthly lives. He is not a passive God. He is present, actively loving us every second of each day.

God has given us every reason to trust Him, to trust in His love. He is faithful. He is worthy.

He has given us every reason to be grateful.  So let’s be grateful. In all circumstances. Whether we understand them or not.

 

Lord, you have examined me
    and know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You know my thoughts before I think them.
You know where I go and where I lie down.
    You know everything I do.
Lord, even before I say a word,
    you already know it.
You are all around me—in front and in back—
    and have put your hand on me.
Your knowledge is amazing to me;
    it is more than I can understand. Psalm 139:1-6 NCV

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. Psalm 111:7

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

 

My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting, THE BRAINY BUNCH

It Makes No Sense

Just a while ago, Noelle was whining because she wanted to get the ball from the box. My condition was that she finish her dinner first.

Noelle: I want the ball now. (whining and crying)
Me: You need to eat first.
Noelle: That doesn’t even make sense!
Me: Well, it doesn’t have to make sense to you. You just need to obey.

As soon as the words left my mouth, I thought of Noah who did not complain, but obeyed God when he was told to build a huge ark when there was no obvious need for it. He obeyed though the task seemed daunting, even impossible. He obeyed even when the rest of humanity misunderstood him. He obeyed though it seemed ridiculous, even when people laughed or criticized him. He obeyed even though he himself could not wrap his brain around what God was planning to do.

That’s the kind of attitude we should have as God’s children. We don’t have to understand everything. We just need to TRUST in His goodness, His love, His perfect will, and OBEY.

This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

Noah did everything just as God commanded him. Genesis 6:9-22

Family, FEATURED, Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Spiritual Family, Uncategorized

SALTIMBANCO and CHURCH!

We had the privilege of watching Cirque du Soleil’s show called Saltimbanco at the Arena about two weeks ago. As usual, they were amazing! The live music was awesome too. I have seen two shows of theirs in the past, and I can say that Saltimbanco is so much more entertaining than Alegria, which we saw in Singapore. It doesn’t measure up, however, to their Las Vegas show Mystere.

Saltimbanco stage at the Arena
the stage. no picture-taking allowed during the show.

Danae was most especially entertained and got inspired to be in the circus. Noelle decided to take a nap during a fourth of the show. It was their first time. We certainly oohed, aahed and laughed a lot. Then we got a taste of some flood in the parking lot as the rain poured. We managed to stay dry when the unnamed southwest monsoon hit that week, but my Chucks, socks, feet and jeans weren’t spared that night haha.

Some thoughts on the show. The TRUST they had for each other was extraordinary. They leaped into the air, back flipping and somersaulting, absolutely certain that the spotters would catch them WHENEVER and WHEREVER they landed.

There was a part where a girl was on a swing high up in the air. For the first part of her routine, she had no harness on. The spotters below her had a cushion, ready to catch her if something went wrong. They did not look down, not even for a second. They looked up at the girl until she finished. Their eyes never left her until she put on her harness and started swinging, doing more stunts. The girl was assured of her safety, while the spotters made sure she was safe.

It reminds me so much of God and how we can trust that He is always with us as we move, upholding us and giving us the grace we need to do even the impossible. We can absolutely trust Him to catch us when we make mistakes and fall. He meets us whenever and wherever our own faith fails us. His eyes never, not even for a second, leave us. He promises never to leave nor forsake us. More than doing a job, GOD LOVES and VALUES US. When He makes promises to us, He keeps them.

During one of the leaping routines where they would be catapulted, landing either on the cushion or another person, the final person who was catapulted into the air to somersault did not correctly land on the chair that was meters off the ground. We were all surprised and waited in anticipation as she tried it again. When she did it, everyone clapped and cheered for her.

We all, even the best among us, make MISTAKES. When we do make mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. We can pick ourselves up and try again. I realize that most people (not all) won’t boo you or kick you down more to show you what a failure you are. They actually ROOT for you and even CHEER for you when you overcome! I am grateful for the people around me who see my flaws, weaknesses and failures, yet love me, pray for me, encourage me, and rejoice with me.

The circus is made up of hundreds of people, each with a different role and responsibility. Besides the people in the acts themselves, which are many, there’s the band, the camera men who sit beside the lights way above the stage, the light men, the sound tech, assistants, stage director and probably more that I can’t think of. Not all get the recognition they deserve, but they each do their part and they all work together towards one goal: to give us a great show.

It looks a lot like church. We are made up of many people. Besides the pastors and staff, the unsung heroes are the VICTORY GROUP LEADERS and VOLUNTEERS. Many may not always get the recognition or appreciation that they deserve, but we each do our part and we all work together in UNITY towards one goal: TO HONOR GOD AND MAKE DISCIPLES.

Marriage

SEASON OF CHALLENGES

I really enjoyed what Yeng and Michelle did to start their session entitled SEASON OF CHALLENGES, at our recently concluded Couples’ Getaway 2011. We were divided into groups of 8 or more couples. The task was for each spouse to instruct his/her blindfolded spouse to avoid stepping on the unnecessary toys and pick up the one item that is assigned to them. Whichever team would get all 10 items first, would win. Strategic planning, then the blindfolding were done in the function room. The game was outside. I was the one blindfolded. I did not see which lane was for our team, or see the arrangement of toys. King & I were the 3rd in our line and our item was the wrist watch.

I’m so proud of King! He was an excellent leader and team player! As I was blindfolded, waiting for our turn, he already gave me specific instructions. He told me that if he says PENGUIN, I’m supposed to take baby steps. I demoed it for him to confirm. If he says BIG STEP or SMALL STEP, I’m supposed to take a step but wait for him to tell me how much further or nearer, and wait for him to tell me when to set my foot down. Instructions were clear from the very beginning.

When it was our turn, I trusted him completely. When he said STOP, I stopped immediately. When I was not clear on what he wanted me to do, I would clarify. If I could not understand the instruction, I told him so, then he would change it in a way that I understood. He was calm and very patient. I was attentive and surprisingly calm too. I followed his instructions carefully, as best as I could. We went through the challenge JUST ONCE! Which means I didn’t step on any object at any time, else I’d have to go back from the beginning all over again. Of course, my Crocs flats helped too, because they aren’t big shoes. It was easier to avoid the little toys. After our turn, King helped the rest of our teammates by guiding them and encouraging them.

Our team did not win the challenge, we finished 3rd, but it was such a cool experience. The game was very telling of how a couple TRUSTS, how they COMMUNICATE, and with what kind of ATTITUDE they approach challenges in their marriage.

Much like in our marriages, we start the game on the same page. But along the way, things happen, things change. There are times that communication is not clear or is not working. We need to work to understand each other. Re-adjusting is necessary. It was great that I ended up being the one led, just as a wife is. I had to trust my husband’s leadership. I did not assume that I knew better, because I couldn’t. I was the one who couldn’t see anything! Sometimes, we have blind spots. We must be wise & loving in how we tell our spouse of their blind spots, and when we are the ones being reminded, we must trust in their wisdom and love too. Attitude is everything! If you let your temper or frustration get the better of you, then communication, wisdom, trust go out the window, and are replaced by PRIDE.

Haha, I’m getting rebuked as I write this. We did great in the game, but reality is a different story. MUST APPLY IN REAL LIFE! 🙂

Check the previous blog SEASONS to find out what our assigned item represented, along with the rest of the 9 items. Included there are the lessons we learned from the other speakers as well. 🙂

Just My Thoughts, Marriage, YOUTH MINISTRY

NO SECRETS!

IF YOU’RE ENGAGED, getting ready for this lifetime commitment with your fiance, with the wedding date set, knowing full well that God has brought the two of you together, here’s a tip for you that will save you a lot of heartache. NO SECRETS! If you have a dark or even not-so-dark past, you owe it to your fiance to tell them the truth. Why? Why do you have to dig up the past and share it? You’ve gotten over it, already healed from it. So why is it necessary? Exactly. You’re over it and are healed, so why not? Unless….. you’re still hiding something, or still unconsciously living in the past. Think about it. Yes it’s hard to come clean in the beginning and feelings may get hurt, but it’s the best way to let your future spouse know who you were and how far you’ve come (especially in cases like mine and King’s — engaged 6 months after meeting — click here for full story), and it’s the best way to test your own feelings, your character, and YOUR RELATIONSHIP as well.

Once your relationship stands the TEST OF REALITY, you’ll see that it’s the best way to prepare for your marriage. You are giving each other the opportunity to forgive one another, because like I said feelings may get hurt, depending on what happened in yours or your fiance’s past. You are creating a clean slate between the two of you. You are creating a CULTURE OF LOVE, honesty, trust, open communication, forgiveness, acceptance, humility, security/confidence, peace, unity — basics and essentials in a great marriage — as you enter into yours. You are laying down the groundwork.

I admit, I am no expert since I have been only married to King for a mere 6 years and 10 months, but this is something I personally felt I had to do before we got hitched. I had to swallow my pride and tell King the truth about my past. Because I have been completely transparent to him, there is none of the drama! No surprises, except the good kind. No reliving of the past, pointing fingers, counting of wrongs, or bitterness and resentment towards each other. Our marriage is not perfect, and like everyone else’s  it takes work and a whole lot of learning, but I believe in that aspect, we did good.

Having said that, I have an even GREATER TIP FOR YOUTH AND SINGLES. While you’re still young and single, or maybe even old(er) and single, BE WISE! Do things that need not be hidden. Have relationships that you need not be ashamed of in the eyes of men and in the eyes of God. Live a life that need not be kept secret. Imagine that you don’t have to come clean to your future spouse because you have NO SECRETS! The freedom, the joy! For both you and your fiance! It’s a great honor to God, a great gift to your future spouse, and the best gift to yourself. 🙂

Marriage

Good answer, babe!

We’ve heard a lot of sad stories regarding infidelity in married couples. Trust is a huge deal to me and I can’t help but be somewhat affected by such stories, especially when they happen to people I know. When King and I talk about it, here’s how the conversation goes.

ME: Babe ha, please don’t ever ever do that to me. If there’s anything you need to confess, you need to tell me now.

KING: Babe, I will never do that to you.

ME: How sure are you?

KING: Because I love God.

ME: Good answer!

I know that King’s love for God or his relationship with Him is no guarantee that he will not fall, because he is merely human. But it’s certainly more reassuring than hearing him tell me that he loves me. I know he loves me and is committed to me, but I believe that his love for and commitment to God is deeper. I don’t need him to fear my wrath because God’s wrath far outweighs mine. Not discounting the need for me to be vigilant and to do my part as a good wife, him having the fear of the Lord should be enough to keep him away from trouble. 🙂

FEATURED, Spiritual Family

We Love You, Hern Family!

Pastor Robert Leading P&W with King on the bass. (Baguio)

We went to Maileen Hern’s memorial service last night and once again I had no words to say to Ptr Robert. When he thanked us for coming, all I could say was “Of course.” All I knew, going there, was I wanted to support him and his family. We wanted to be there because we love him and his family. We’re not close, actually, but I admire and respect him so much that I felt compelled to be at the wake and the memorial service. King, of course, has known him for many years and worked with him.

I take away many things from the passing of Ms Mai. Number one is her faith. Her faith was amazing, even amidst great physical pain and amidst the pain of leaving her family. When she knew it was almost time for her to be with the Lord, she spoke to her daughters and told them not to be angry with God, but to always be grateful to Him no matter what. Ptr Robert’s faith to fight for Ms Mai’s life and then to let go when God spoke to him, was also remarkable. Even Betthia knew that God prepared her for her mom’s death through a dream. I cannot imagine what they have gone through and are going through, but one thing is evident. The Hern family loves the Lord and trusts in His ways. I hope to have the same strength and faith when I am faced with such adversity.

Among all those that spoke about Ms Mai, there was one that touched me and made me cry the most. She actually did not even speak. It was on video, and Ptr Robert was the one who read her letter to her mom. When I saw Shaunese cover her eyes while her letter was being read, I just felt so sad for her. I could not imagine what she must be feeling at her age, 5 years old I think, having lost her mother. I could not imagine my daughters going through the same thing. That thought just overwhelmed me. And yet her letter was one of pure love for her dear mommy, saying “I love you. Don’t forget us okay?”

I am just so grateful for Victory, my church, my spiritual family. Like what Ptr Steve said last night, we truly are one big family. Ptr Robert said he is able to go through this by the grace of God and because of his spiritual family, who are continually holding them up in prayer, supporting them, encouraging them and just being there for them. I experienced the same love and support when my father died 3 years ago, and so did my mom who isn’t even part of our church (yet).

We always speak of legacy, what we leave behind on this earth. I love what Ptr Steve said about Ms Mai, that her thumbprint is in every building or facility that Victory has ever built. She was an architect and she helped each church with the building of their facilities, including the ENLI building in the Fort. Some foreigners mentioned that the ENLI building still looks new, and Ptr Steve said that that speaks of the kind of work Ms Mai did — excellent. She did not only leave her mark on the buildings, but on the lives of many people as well — her family, her friends, her small groups, her co-workers, and now me.

Last night, even though we were crying, we were also laughing, remembering Ms Mai and as Ptr Robert was speaking. Oh yes, even in this sad time, Ptr Robert could smile, laugh and make others laugh. It’s pretty amazing. It is because of the assurance that Ms Mai is in heaven already, pain-free, resting and enjoying God. They did not fear death because death is not the end. All the more that I am grateful for Jesus. He saved me, gave me a new life, and I can also look forward to being with Him in heaven when I die.

Hern family, we love you! Thank you for your awesome faith. God bless you! 🙂