When You Feel Christmas is Not for You

When You Feel Christmas is Not for You

Christmas is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year. For most of us, it reminds us of fun and good memories of our childhood. It excites us to think that we give and receive gifts from people we love and maybe even from strangers.

But not everyone shares the same sentiment when Christmas comes. For some, it is the saddest part of the year because it reminds them of the things that they don’t have or relationships that they will never have. Christmas somehow acts as an amplifier of what has been brewing in our hearts. But when you feel that Christmas is not for you, I encourage you to think about this…

Christmas is a celebration of someone who came to redeem us and brought joy and peace to us. Jesus came so that in our darkest moments we can experience his light which helps us see and understand his purpose in all our suffering and pain. Jesus came to break the power of the evil one, he came to set the captives free from condemnation, guilt, depression and false burdens. He came so that we will have life, even in the midst of a loss of a loved one, a financial breakdown or a personal melt down.

Therefore Christmas is a celebration of the hope that came more than 2000 years ago. It means that waiting for the ultimate meaning, hope and life has come to an end. The waiting is over. We don’t need to look for it from stuff, people or events that come and go. All we need to do is to believe that Jesus was sent by our Perfect Heavenly Father for us, to redeem and bring joy and peace to us.

If you are discouraged right now, remember that Jesus can come at your darkest moment so He can bring the joy and peace that you need. All you need to do is believe that He is willing and able to do it in your life.

Merry Christmas and a faith-filled holiday to you!

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5 Steps to Jump-Start Your Bible Reading

Bible and Coffee
Bible reading with a hot coffee at the side — perfect combination.
As a follower of Jesus, the Bible is really an essential part of my relationship with Him. I believe reading the Bible is not to gain the favor of God (as if we can on our own…) but for us to know Him more in all circumstances of our lives. But there are times when we skip reading it. For many of us, the reasons are really lousy. Let’s admit it. But for some, the reason of skipping are valid. Nevertheless, not reading the Bible will certainly kill our passion for His words and that is dangerous. I find it difficult to come back to my Bible reading after skipping one or two. For some of you, you are just starting to read the Bible but you find it too overwhelming to read. These are some of the problems (sometimes excuses) I face when I don’t “feel” like reading the Bible or would like to skip it.
  • I have no time.
  • I can’t understand it.
  • It’s boring.
  • I don’t know where to start.
  • Checking Facebook and other media first.
Maybe you experienced at least one of these problems. But I would like to share some wisdom I got from people I follow and through the years of reading it. Here are my 5 tips to jump-start your Bible reading.
  1. Pray. Need to say more? I believe left on our will we will not enjoy reading God’s inspired words. Prayer is a declaration of our dependence on God. Apart from His Spirit our minds and hearts will not be inspired to go to His words. I believe this should be first among the 5 I know. The rest will follow.
  2. Get a plan. Get a devotional book or plan from youversion.com. When I was in high school, I used My Daily Bread as my guide in reading the Bible. This helps me follow something. I think when there no plan of reading God’s word, our passion will dwindle along the way. Today, there are a lot of good reading plan found in the internet. It can even help you finish the whole Bible in a year!
  3. Go small portion. Momentum is the key. After a couple of missed, the hard part is to get back in the habit of reading. Just like exercise, it’s difficult to go back to the same intensity where you left. I believe the wise way to get back is to read small portions of the Scripture until you feel the momentum.
  4. Start reading when your mind is fresh. Usually in the morning or whenever you start your day. I believe there is something at stake when we don’t read and meditate it when we start our day. I believe our minds are in trouble if we put something else aside from God’s word. In effect, our faith is affected because faith comes from hearing God’s word (in this case you hear it in your mind as you read). Whatever we put first in our day will affect our heart and mind.
  5. Pick a place where you can read and concentrate. It can be a couch, or a place in your house where you have your own table. My personal favorite is our dining table, when no one is around with coffee on the side. That’s a great time for me to read and meditate God’s word.
Jesus quoted a verse that says “Man cannot live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” If we want to live and experience its fullness, His Word is essential and cannot be neglected. If we decide to skip reading it, let’s remember, there is at stake — our faith. Hope the 5 tips help us to jump-start or jump back in our love for His words.

Merry Christmas everyone!

FROM the Trinidad Family

My prayer for everyone is that you will experience deeply what God really meant when He sent His only Son for you.

A very special gift to all mankind! The King of kings and the Lord of lords has come.

Be filled with lasting joy in Christ!

Have a blessed holiday!

Thank You Notes – A post thanksgiving blog

image

It’s my first time to celebrate Thanksgiving in US. It’s filled with families sharing food and fun together. A joyful moment like Christmas, with a twist of having the Turkey as the main course of the night and many messages of gratefulness to people. I got my own list of my thank you notes this Thanksgiving and I decided to blog about it; these are really pointed to my Lord and Savior who gave me every good gifts that allowed me to do His purpose.

Thank you for my family in Manila. My ate Beth, my kuya Manny, ate Tata, Khalid, KC and specially my Mama, who did everything for us for our well being. Thanks Ma!

Thank you for my family here in Chicago, Daddy and Mommy (in- laws). Their generosity allows us to answer God’s call to serve here in US.

Thank you for the spiritual family we have. Victory Malate for leading me to a growing relationship with Jesus. Pastor Nixon, Pastor Jon, Pastor Jonathan and many more pastors invested alot in me. Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for my friends who encourages me, who prays for me, corrects me and cheers me up in times of discouragement. Thanks Abe and Mike and the gang for standing with me.

Thank you for all the ministry partners who stayed with us and believed in us which enabled us to do ministry and go further to where God is leading us. Thank you for your joyful sacrifice.

Thank you for my loving wife Char. For your relentless love and joy that you share in the family. How could I live happy without you?

Thank you for my son Judah who gives smile in our face everyday. Also our upcoming son, whom we are excited to see this February 2015, we know God has instored lots of great things for you.

Thank you Jesus for saving me. While I was still a sinner you died for me. You see my heart and mind yet You love me the same. No words can express my gratitude to my Lord and Savior.

What about you? What are you grateful for this season?

Happy Thanksgiving!

3 Questions You Need to Ask Before Entertaining a Non-Christian Suitor.

Think about this...
Think about this…

Ok, so this blog is for Christian women who are considering to go out with a guy but they found out that the guy is not a Christian (but he’s really good looking and admirable.) What will you do? I believe there are questions that should bug your mind before entertaining the idea of it. I also believe getting godly counsel will help you make wise decision as you face emotional issues. I suggest these 3 questions needs time to be thought through and get someone who can bounce off their godly wisdom to you. Here are the questions:

1. Do I really accept him for who he is or do I plan to convert him?

If you want to convert him, he has to know ASAP. It would be unfair for the guy to know that there is a hidden agenda to change him especially when the dating progresses to a serious relationship.

2. Is he the leader I want to lead me in my walk with Jesus?

If you desire that the man that you want to have in your life is someone who can bring you closer to Jesus, it’s important to think where the guy can lead you. His sweet character is at its best good for your interactions but not necessarily essential to lead you into a direction that will love Jesus more.

3. What values can we share together that will honor Jesus?

Relationship shares values with each other. Your values in its core wants to honor Jesus. On the other side, his values “might be” different than yours. Your interactions will be fun but direction and growth might not progress.

I believe your growth and maturity in Jesus is affected by the romantic relationships you are in. In its broader sense any relationship you have affects your growth as a Christian.

That’s why Paul mentioned in his letter to Corinthians, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…”

The main thought in this verse is if a person is unequally yoked with an unbeliever, he/she won’t go anywhere. It’s an agricultural principle and it has an implication to our personal lives as well.

Hope these questions help our Christian women not to fall on something that might be a trap for them.

What other questions should a woman think when she encounters this dilemma?

The Death of Real Intimacy

Death of Intimacy

We now live in a very sexualized society. As the marketing saying claims, “Sex sells”, indeed our society has been buying it and industries have been making a good income out of it.

We see it in the internet, newspapers and magazine where men and women’s bodies are flaunted. TV commercials and banner ads in the highways also show some “skin” and intimate scenarios like kissing. Recently there was a shirt released in the mall with a print that says, “It’s not rape, it’s a snuggle with a struggle.” Even rape as a crime is now depicted as something not serious and considered as a “snuggle.”

There was a recent fashion show by Bench called “The Naked Truth” that objectified women and even men as sex objects, some even degrading it to like a leashed dog. Some bloggers even commented that it’s like a soft-porn show.

All this description of what’s happening in our society leads into something dangerous. Many people who are for these kinds of “art” or act look at people like me, as narrow-minded, not fun, old-schooled guy. Yes, if that’s the description, I somehow agree that I should be it, but not just because I am against it. But because I am fighting for something critical not just for me but for the young men and women who consume these images, not knowing that it affects the way they view a person.

Here are some troubling effects of sexualizing our society.

  • A person who consumes images that are explicit will eventually see another person as a sex object. Hence, it would be difficult for that person to experience real friendships and would be struggling with the idea that his/her friend can be a potential sexual partner.
  • A husband or a wife who consumes explicit media will eventually have their desire redirected to the images or videos of other men or women. It kills intimacy between a husband and wife. Thus resulting to a cold relationship and then divorce.
  • Sex will not be a critical element for marriage. Because of its loose proliferation, it will just be a common thing. Thus killing the idea of real marriage between a man and a woman.

I am not just against the sexualization of our society. I am fighting for real and godly relationships. I am fighting for real intimacy between a husband and wife. I am fighting for what the next generation is losing. Real Intimacy in real marriage.

Sexualized society can lead to the demise of real intimacy. Sad, but it’s true. Just look around and see the results of it. You don’t need to be an expert to prove the downside of it.

What I have Learned from Removing Weeds in the Backyard

Weeds
Weeds steal nutrients from the soil. Some habits, thoughts and relationships does that to our hearts as well.

It’s my first time to remove weeds in a backyard, I never had an experience of gardening until my father-in-law asked me to help him this morning. It was tough work. Toiling the soil and removing weeds are really pain in the back. I was reminded of discipleship and how I help people learn the word of God and unlearn the things of the world.

I got some observations about weeds that led me to relate removing it wih discipleship.

Weeds steal nutrients from the grass in the backyard, if not removed the grass will eventually die and be replaced with the weeds. Some weeds have thorns and are not good to step on. Some weeds has flower-like-good-looking-design in it but it still steal nutrients and water from the grass we are gardening.

Following Jesus sounds really simple until you realize that there are things in your walk that steals you away from it. it can be:

1 . a habit

2. thought patterns or ideology

3. relationships

There are some habits, thoughts or relationships in our lives that we feel like its okay to have until we are confronted by God’s word and realize that they steal our joy, peace and even our understanding that helps us follow Jesus further. But I believe God has provided us a way of removing the “weeds” of our lives to grow in Christ further and faster:

1. His Word – The Bible changes our minds. It challenges the reasoning of our minds and the intentions of our hearts. No other book can define fully what the heart can do but the Bible.

2. His People – People who also walk in the direction of following Jesus can give us encouragement when we feel like not following or when we are fearful or when we are doubtful about God’s will for our lives. God designed life to be shared with people.

What are the “weeds” in your life that you feel like you need to remove to grow more in Christ?