Living in the light

 

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(photo taken by me 01/19/2014 by the house terrace)

 

Memory verse: Ephesians 5:1-11; 16-18

“Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like Him. Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave His life for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God.

Since you are God’s people, it is not right that any matters of sexual immorality or indecency or greed should ever be mentioned among you. Nor it is fitting for you to use language which is obscene, profane or vulgar. Rather you should give thanks to God. You may be sure that no one who is immoral, indecent, or greedy (for greed is a form of idolatry) will ever receive a share in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Do not let anyone deceive you with foolish words; it is because of these very things that God’s anger will come upon those who do not obey Him. So have nothing at all to do with such people.

You yourselves used to be in the darkness, but since you have become the Lord’s people, you are in the light. So you must live like people who belong to the light, for it is the light that brings a rich harvest of every kind of goodness, righteousness and truths.

Try to learn what pleases the lord. Have nothing to do with worthless things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead bring them to the light.

Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are the evil days. Don’t be fools then but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do.

Don’t get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

 

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For the first time in four years, I decided to witness the parade on the street as one of the highlight of Cebu’s biggest religious festival Sinulog. The yearly festival highlights dancing on the street of devotees with their wooden sculptured Sto Niños in hand. In Catholicism, Sto Niño means holy child Jesus and Senior Sto Niño means the adult Jesus.

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Though I can’t endure heavy crowd, I managed to add myself alongside the viewers at the street. I wanted to feel the spiritual act of devotion of those people towards Jesus though I personally dislike their diversion of faith from the spiritual being to a mere symbol, an image made of wood designed by human hands just to honor the holy child Jesus.

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While observing the sacred procession, I wondered why I couldn’t hear them shouting your name Lord. Your name is Jesus! Can those sculptured image perform miracle? Is your spirit filled those wooden-sculptured Sto Niños’ I’ve seen? Why are they worshipping those images, kissing and dancing with it to show they really are devoted entities of saints? That so called wooden icon as what they call it, isn’t it likely similar to Buddha’s statue or monuments of saints being worshiped by people of other religions? Didn’t you tell us to worship you in spirit and in truth? Didn’t you tell us not to worship other gods aside from you? Didn’t you tell us not to worship or patronize saints? That you are a jealous God and that you hate idolatry? That worshiping images is a form of idolatry? That our body is your temple?

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Last night after work, I cried out to God. I asked why those people (my own people) were celebrating their so called religious festival that way. It’s all bunch of worldly activities! Concerts, dirty dances, party in night clubs/pubs, drinking alcohol, playing card games, body painting (henna tattoo), all sorts, you name it! A neighbor even persuaded me to join them drinking and merry-making at the street corner.

Hence, not so long after I slept, I woke up from a dream. In my dream, I can see a very calm see but suddenly big waves were enormously growing. My cousin and I were talking outside her house (her house is facing the sea). When we’re walking along the shore by the seawall, we noticed that the waves are rising showing a long gap between the crest and the trough. The waves were in rage. My cousin then shared occasionally that she’s hit by waves from her window. “Waves these days are growing bigger and bigger and are getting tougher and tougher. They can’t even be angrier.” Before she could finish talking, the current of water were increasing suddenly from low to high tide. The wind was blowing so fiercely. I can even see a leopard coming forth from the sea and some birds flying for refuge. They were panicking as if danger is coming. I wondered where that leopard came. It suddenly appeared from nowhere. The huge body of water was approaching us so we managed to run. “This is no joke,” I told myself while big waves were increasing its wavelengths as if ready to swallow us up by its strength. We knew that we were witnessing a storm surge in front of us. That storm surge could wash out villages along and near the shore and could extend further more.

<Next scene > There was a scarcity of food.

<Another scene> Due to some daily tasks, I forgot my breakfast. When I arrived home, they reminded me to have brunch instead. I’m getting hungry and I can see plenty of food on the table but I had the urge to wait for my mom so we can eat together. I needed her presence. She’s been out for a long time since day break and I wondered what took her so long. My cousins arrived and chatted with me. I was so hungry and was about to cry. “Where’s my mom?” I protested silently. One of my cousins was trying to comfort me when her girlfriend arrived naked. I was shocked when they kissed each other in front of us unmindful of some minors present at that scene. They were about to have sex when I was blown by my temper and threw them out from the house.

Finally, my mom arrived. She’s so busy. She even forgot to take care of us; she’s prioritising other people than our welfare. That dream made me so sad.

 

Thoughts to ponder

On that same day, breaking news of typhoon that causes heavy flood and physical destruction to some cities and provinces in Mindanao, cancellation of classes and flights alarmed me. I thought of my dream about the water in rage.

God was angry with premarital sex and He is showing how young people were acting these days out of control. He is not happy with it. He’s condemning the action.

He also shows me that I don’t have to be totally dependent to my biological/earthly parents. That scene in my dream when I almost cried out of frustration to see my mom because I needed parental love reminded me of my supposed first love—God. When I wasn’t yet born-again in the spirit, I used to consider my parents number one in my heart like they are my life, I can’t live without them, it would be useless and miserable if I’ll lose them. Moreover, though my mouth agreed to my Sunday school teacher whenever she mentioned about the 10 commandments that you must love God above all things, those were actually an act of lip service; not genuine. Yes, I regularly went to church at those times but I also participated in worldly affairs. I had a form of idolatry inside me like self- gratification, fondness of material things, self, self, and self…and it takes a lifetime to fight with oneself, I tell you.

Our greatest enemy is ourselves because when we are weighing which is right or wrong, we’re actually battling with ourselves. Originally, before our lord and saviour Jesus Christ came, we are sinners. That sin is growing every day, multiplying it. Now the work of the enemy, the serpent is to deceive us, making sure that we would believe that our human nature (a sinner) is an excuse to do sinful acts, making us believe that it’s okay to sin over and over again since we could just asked God to forgive us.

But Jesus tells us that when we are born again, old things will pass away…

1 Corinthians 13:11 says: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child…

2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life has gone; a new life has begun!

Ezekiel 36:26 says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Isaiah 43: 18 says: “Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past.”

John 3:3 Jesus replied,” Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

Romans 6:4 says: “We therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

John 14:20 says: “At that day you shall not know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you.”

Matthew 9:16-17 says: “No one patches up an old coat with a piece of new cloth, for the new patch will shrink and make an even bigger hole in the coat. Nor does anyone pour new wine into used wineskins, for the skins will burst, the wine will pour out, and the skins will be ruined. Instead new wine is poured into fresh wineskins, and both will keep in good condition.”

Romans 8:9;10 says: “But you do not live as their human nature tells you to—if in fact, God’s spirit lives in you. Whoever does not have the spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. But if Christ lives in you, the spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin.”

Ephesians 4: 22-24 says: “So get rid of your old self which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self who is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.”

Colossians 3:1-3 says: “You have been raised to life with Christ so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits in His throne at the right side of God. Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Your real life is Christ and when He appears, then you too will appear with Him and share His glory.”

Colossians 3:5-10 says: “You must put to death the earthly desires at work in you such as sexual immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions, and greed (for greed is a form of idolatry). But now you must get rid of all those things: anger, passion and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips. Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its creator, is constantly renewing in His own image in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.”

And when we pray, we must directly pray to Jesus raising our head up on heaven since He is in heaven or holding our chest while feeling our heartbeat since His spirit dwells in us, in our heart. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to use mediums like saints, statues or any graven images; not even Mary (Jesus Christ earthly mother) to be heard by God!

For those who pray “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of you womb Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and on the hour of our death, amen.” to tell you, Jesus is not pleased with you at all. Jesus wants you to stop praying to Mary. She can’t have the power to save us; only Jesus can save us! If you pray, you must pray to Him and Him alone. Don’t pray to saints. Don’t pray to stones or rocks.

To God be all the glory, honour, praise and adoration!

 

The Confession of (not shopaholic) adventurous traveler: “dealing with phobias and my red shirt”

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Ever since, I have fear of heights. I’ve been struggling to overcome it and since high school, I thought joy rides in amusement parks could at least lessen it. Though I was able to control my emotion I realized that it was only psychologically manipulated by myself.

Let’s talk about phobias. I did research about it and I learn that it is a persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. The term phobia is encompassing and usually discussed in terms of specific phobias and social phobias. Specific phobias like arachnophobia or acrophobia and social phobias are phobias within social situations such as public speaking and crowded areas. Phobias vary in severity among individuals. Some individuals can simply avoid the subject of their fear and suffer relatively mild anxiety over fear. Others suffer full-pledged panic attacks with all the associated disabling symptoms. Most individuals understand that they are suffering from an irrational fear, but are powerless to override their panic reaction. (source:Wikipedia)

In our Psychology class in college as I remembered, the professor explained that we can be able to overcome our fear by directly facing it and this could not just be practiced once. You need to do it over and over again. The more, the better until the stimulus could shrink in itself by the response. You could even intensify the stimulus so as to immunize the respondent. At the end of the day, respondent may enjoy the course of exercise and even forgot that he/she once had that fear. Again to overcome the fear is not just a matter of controlling or manipulating your emotion but by directly facing it through courses of practice until you get used to it. Yet there are two possible outcomes: either you’ll enjoy and sees it as no longer fear and wonder why you ever felt and think of it that way, or when you developed it as a habit, you’ll get used to it. However, sometimes a habit could be boring. See the difference? If this thing happened you may get back on the first step or start all over again. Who says it’s wrong to stumble again and again? “Happy are those who learn from their own mistakes but happier are those who learn from other’s mistakes.” But haven’t you realized that less pain is less gain? So it means the level or intensity from anything learned (theory without application) is less compared to the level of happiness from the theory being applied in the real situation. But worry not because you don’t need to experience all the pain (to the full extent) to achieve the higher level of happiness because if that’s so, you are in wrong motive, wrong light. And since God don’t give loads heavier than we can carry. He exactly knows our limitations as He also knows our strengths and weaknesses. And He is not tired of your call for help. He’s never tired of us. All we need to do is to lean on Him.

As the song goes, “Savoir He can move a mountain, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save. Forever, author of salvation, He rose and conquer the grave…Jesus conquer the grave…”

The red shirt at the cliff…

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Yesterday turned out to be one of my happiest days. I overcome my fear of heights or technically called Acrophobia. I learned based on experience aside from the research that in Acrophobia, you’ll feel a sense of panic when at height. You may instinctively begin to search for something to cling to. You may find out that you’re unable to trust your own sense of balance. Common reactions include descending immediately, crawling on floors and kneeling or otherwise lowering the body. Emotionally and physically, the response to acrophobia may begin with a shake, sweat, heart palpitations and even cry or yell out. You may feel tired or paralyzed. You might have difficulty to think. Well I am guilty of all these response. Thanks to my favorite loose red shirt printed with Educators–brave… noble…excellent…for jumping into the roof gutter. Actually that shirt was hanged outside the window when a strong wind blown it about five meters away towards the roof gutter. My room is located on the third floor but we have the chance to walk (if we want to) on the roof of the second floor through our window. The problem is the roof gutter is at the edge and below looked so terrifying knowing that the terrace couldn’t catch me if ever I’ll fall. The song “Catch me I’m falling…” sounded in my ear asking “Who’d catch you if you’ll fall?”

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So I was in mixed emotion: disappointment, confusion, fear and hope. Good thing I was able to develop the so-called “hope” despite the situation. As I was looking at my favorite red shirt, the feeling of not giving up was raging inside me like “It’s my favorite shirt, it has sentimental value, I’ve been keeping and using it for more than six years, it’s so comfy…so I can’t give it up. I must get it.” It seemed there were angel and devil arguing over me on my head. The other one motivates whilst the other discourages. “No, it’s just a shirt. Are you going to risk your life for a single thing of less value? Leave it, you’ll find another greater than that. You’re afraid of heights, right? You can’t do it.”

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I’m about to give up. I thought about death. My mind ran crazier over thinking that it must be my last day so I must pray and repent before I die (I was laughing by this thought afterwards.) when the voice inside me yelled, “But what if you can make it? You must try, there’s no harm in trying. You might regret it if you won’t.” So I gave myself a chance. Next scene was me on the steep roof crawling down towards the gutter with knees trembling and heart pounding. Then I could hear my neighbor below shouting at me, “Look out! You might fall!” But I pretended to be deaf. My eyes were glued on my goal—the red shirt, to rescue it whatever way is while praying “Lord, lord, help me…”

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“Come on…one last step and you can make it.” I kept motivating myself while I reached my hand towards the shirt and I succeeded. Finally, I inclined myself against the down slope roof. I even managed to stand since I found that it’s much easier to incline than to decline. It’s like a wall climbing experience without a harness! I enjoyed the adventure. Aside from it was free, I had save time and energy since it was just on our roof! A house climbing or shall I say a roof-climbing adventure! <chuckle>

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Lesson learned: To maintain your focus or keep the fire burning (passion), you must grasp your goal, not letting it slipped for even a second or else it might escape and not able to return. It’s like our relationship with Jesus. If we thought, He’s getting far; we must draw nearer to Him. If we are crippled and wounded from our walk by faith with the Lord we must lean on Him. Just imagine how Jesus carries you on the shore when you’re too tired to continue the long walk.

Why do we need to overcome our fear?

The biggest danger that most phobias present is the risk of limiting one’s life and activities to avoid the feared situation. Research shows that a certain amount of reluctance around heights is normal, not only for humans but for all visual animals. Nonetheless, it represents an extreme variation on a normal caution, and can become quite life-limiting for sufferers.

 

A prayer of thanksgiving

I praise you lord because you have saved me and kept my enemies from gloating over me. I cried to you for help, O lord my God and you healed me; you kept me from the grave. I was on my way to the depths below, but you restored my life.” (Psalms 30: 1-3)

A prayer of praise

The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid. When evil people attack me and try to kill me, they stumble and fall. Even if the whole army surrounds me, I will not be afraid; even if enemies attack me, I will trust God. Don’t abandon me to my enemies who attack me with lies and threats. I know that I will live to see the Lord’s goodness in this present life. Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord.” (Psalms 27)

Monochromatic pink lights lit the artificial Cherry blossom

Monochromatic pink lights lit the artificial Cherry blossom
photo taken by me @ French Croissant, Cebu City
01/12/2014

As I was gazing these sparkling artificial trees, my eyes were in awe, yet my heart was celebrating the fact that our God can make things real. He can give life to any thing. He can draw us in awe more than our fancied heart to temporary things in this world. See the trees that grow freely with also the breath of life that God gave by His grace to this planet. Aren’t those trees more real? Aren’t they praising more to their creator?
We are serving a living God not made of stone, of wood or any other human crafts…praise to Him and Him alone since He listens, He sees and He feels every beat of our pulse, our heart and He know exactly how much we breath the breath of life that comes from His own breath. . .!!
Lord, thank you for your perfect timing for you always know when to touch us, correct and heal our sickness (physical, spiritual, emotional, mental… )

I rebuked the works of Satan…!! We won’t allow that serpent to deceive us. Thank you lord for setting us free. We rejoice in your name!

The Confession of the (not shoppaholic) traveller : my new year’s holiday challenge

photos taken by me on my way home while riding on a pump boat
01/02/2014

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As I was gazing at the big waves, a song of praise whispers inside me to sing hallelujah to the author of waves, of the sky beyond our grasp and the sea extending beneath the ocean floor. Truly He is in control of everything and His none other than God. He can command the waves to dance with the rhythm of the wind. He can command the wind to blow further than our eyes could see. He can color the sky with bright or dim or whatever He may wish. He can command the mountain to bow down and tremble at His presence. He can command the spring, the cascades, lakes, rivers and seas to reflect its glory. It’s mirror is as crystal clear.

I am writing this piece with the sound and sight of big waves in front of me, yet I am not distracted nor am afraid. Hence, I rejoice and celebrate its splendid beauty since He truly is its master.

Suddenly, I jerked by the waves’ hit. It soaked my feet. Sooner, I found myself like a child playing with it.

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Two days ago at 4:30 in the morning, the holy spirit woke me up, thus helping me not to miss my supposed boarding time (5:00am) on the boat. The strong rain adding to it  the wind bellowing chilled my brain not to move and crouch still on the bed. I wasn’t able to hear my alarm clock but still I was so thankful that I made it 30 minutes before the boarding time. Prior to that, I was dreaming that I was waking my aunt up to inform her that we’re about to miss our flight. But she was lying still deeply asleep so I carry her until we reach the plane. We arrived late, yet we made it! Then I woke up from my dream. First thing came to mind was to check the time. Then the panic began. I run towards my aunt to woke her up. It was so funny that I was doing the same thing that happened in my dream minutes ago. Then I woke my cousin up to drive me as quick as possible. I checked the time, 38 minutes past 4 in the morning. And they were still sleeping and the rain keeps on reminding me that the weather isn’t fine! I almost lost hope. “I already missed my boat yesterday though it was a different story (fully booked and negligence) that made my dream came into reality. But today I must go back to the city or my boss must scold me,” I told myself while panicking. Good thing that panic does me good, that instead of ruining the host just like others, it doubled my motion. Only I had to sacrifice my breakfast, bath and make up. Next thing was to violate one of the traffic rules in the city–speed limit which I’m quite sure does not exist in any remote places of the earth and even in that island at that early hour. We didn’t mind the darkness at all and the muddy slippery road that might hamper our purpose of safety travel.

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I actually felt hopeful even at the sound of the strong rain dripping on the roof. We still managed to head along the way riding on the motorcycle in an open air with the cold wind and downpour kissing our cheeks and chilling our bodies. While following the curves of the slippery road, a still small voice whispered through my ears telling me that God has been preparing something for me like a task and that challenging experience served as my training.

This New Year holiday was truly unforgettable and amazing! It’s my first time to celebrate New Year’s countdown inside the church having a continuous devotional singing of praise and worship songs to the lord with my uncle as the pastor in the lead. I was really glad. I didn’t plan my trip and yet as accordingly, it’s been said that you have to have a timely and Godly decision so there’s no regret. No matter how far your destination or vague your goal is, you must not lost hope…God is actually planning things for you at His perfect timing. All you have to do is to agree with His perfect plan. Literally, I travelled miles away to celebrate my new year in my mom’s hometown with my relatives. Though my mom disagree, I still pushed my plan. I told her that no typhoon or big waves can threaten me since I have a BIG God bigger than the waves of the ocean. Yet, it really had happened. Mothers know best. She had the point that the weather can’t befriend anyone on its way in her humanly perspective, being practical and realistic as she is. But why not survive if the boat is surviving? Why lost hope if others are just sleeping and enjoying the adventure? So the story of Jesus and the Twelve Disciples on the sea when typhoon came can be exemplary in the spiritual perspective applied to humanly perspective.

I was so thankful to Jesus for delivering me from the wrath of bad weather. It’s not His will for me to travel in a bad condition. He truly cares. The holy spirit made me dream to give a warning. I almost missed the boat the second time around but God’s plan must prevail so as the result, we had the safest and calmest travel. The sea was so calm and friendlier as ever opposite to their presumptions of huge waves and stronger rain at the depths of the ocean. Who could have imagined that the non-stop rain all night long till dawn could bring peace and serenity on our trip?

This year, I’ll take a solemn oath to myself to appreciate little things and to seek more of His face. Yes, I’m so in love…not in any man but with the lord!

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Day 4 new.year.holiday photo challenge: Santiago Bay

photos taken by me @ Santiago Bay, Camotes Island, Cebu, Philippines
01/01/2014

Since procrastination and negligence was the culprit why my supposed ship can’t accept me, at all. hehe..the other way around, since we lost our way and we doubt whether to go or not to go..so the result is: fully-booked!!!
Lesson learned: plan accordingly and be consistent but if it’s not God’s will, your plan will only serve as a scratch in any architect’s design.
And so we switch to plan B: sightseeing on beautiful white sand beaches…and we call it a day with no regrets!

 

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 We usually enjoy the 1st day of the year either at home resting or strolling and playing at beaches and swimming. 

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They were playing Tug-of-wAr…

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..sunset

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along the road on our way home…

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..the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on this precious tree

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love birds…

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New Year’s holiday photo challenge day 2: sunset by the bay

New Year’s holiday photo challenge day 2: sunset by the bay

photo taken by me @ San Francisco, Camotes Island, Cebu 12/30/2013

“Where only God heals our brokenness, commands the storms of any form to retreat from our rebuke in Jesus’ name and bring back the color of the dimmest nights, may we delight to wait on Him as we patiently wait for the sun to set so we can rest in His presence. . .
. . . in His presence is fullness of joy.”