Category Archives: Faith

My morning prayer

This was my prayer back in 2007… and it still is applicable to me today.

Dear Father, guide me this day.
May your hand be upon me.
Just thinking about the things I am going to do today, already stresses me out.
Still my heart, O Lord.
Give me peace and calmness.
Be my rest, Jesus.
Take all my burdens, frustrations, expectations, doubts, fears and everything else that slows me down.
Grant me Your strength, instill willingness and enthusiasm in my heart for everything that I do.
I love you Lord and I just want to please you.
I commit everything to You — my words, my thoughts, my actions.
May I bring you glory today.
In Jesus’ holy name, I pray.
Amen.

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God’s promise for me today

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which TRANSCENDS ALL understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds IN CHRIST JESUS.”

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV


In the midst of all my wedding preparations and transitions in basically all areas, I tend to be obsessive-compulsive. The choleric that I am wants to make sure that all bases are covered–and if mistakes may happen, I need to foresee them now so that I would know how to resolve it ahead of time.

Tama ba yun? Wala pang problema, prinoblema ko na?

I still feel uneasy over certain responsibilities and how I have to meet each and every one of them. This makes me all the more anxious. If only I can press “pause” on some details so that I can attend to them one at a time.

I strongly believe though that this morning, God pressed “pause” for me and reminded me His word in Philippians 4:6-7.

Three words lept from out of the pages, in blinking boldface: EVERYTHING, TRANSCENDS ALL, IN CHRIST JESUS. Wow. How amazing is that eh?

  • EVERYTHING – this includes things and details I haven’t yet worried but it’s already been taken care of. (Everything, Normi. Everything!)
  • TRANSCENDS ALL – God’s peace is all encompassing! Even things not related to my wedding preparations; events that has happened, is happening and will happen; things I really can’t quite put a finger on nor comprehend–I can calmly yet confidently say, “It is well with my soul.”
  • IN CHRIST JESUS – The clincher. The climax. The punch line. The concluding remark. The answer. IN. CHRIST JESUS. Made me reflect: why am I feeling this way? Am I in Christ Jesus? Because there’s no way that these matters could have made me anxious had I been in Christ Jesus all along.

Now there’s the pause I needed–I had to remember that it is in Christ Jesus that I have all things. I had to remember what Jesus did for those people who trusted and believed in him and what he said:

  1. Mary in John 2:1-11 – trusted Jesus to turn the water into wine; Jesus, though it was not yet his time to do such things, he still did. Mary trusted and believed and she witnessed a miracle. And it all happened in a wedding! A wedding that everyone will remember, forever.
  2. The father of the boy possessed by the evil spirit in Mark 9:14-29 – his sincere response “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” is something I can relate to. He trusted and believed and Jesus healed his son.
  3. The criminal at the cross in Luke 23:39-43 – He has been a crook most of his life, but he believed that Jesus is the Messiah (I personally think he’s the first ever Messianic Jew; or was it John the Baptist?). He trusted and believed and he received the sweet promise of Jesus assuring him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.

And I can go on and on and on.

In Christ Jesus. Trancends All. Everything.

What a powerful assurance! Thank you Lord!

Prayer:

Abba Father, sorry that I have allowed myself to be caught up with matters that shouldn’t worry me. Forgive me for the momentary lapse in memory of who you are–that you are the Creator of All, Sustainer of All. Let not the things of this world ever sway me again. Thank you Jesus that in you I can have peace that transcends all understanding. I am eternally grateful for what you have done for me that gives me the privilege to have everything that I ask in your will. Thank you Holy Spirit for the assurance that I can claim this promise and expect favorable answers. Drown out the worries and fill me with peace. Help me to always pray with praise and thanksgiving, trusting and believing that I have received all that I have asked. This I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 Note to self: Kaya Normi, chill ka lang. God has everything in his control.
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There’s just so many things to thank the Lord for…

Last Wednesday, my small group and I had a wonderful time of studying God’s word and we were all reminded to be grateful for what we have been blessed with. Thank God for the Apostle Paul for writing this to the Philippians expressing his gratefulness to them:

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” ~Philippians 4:10-20 (NIV)

Learning the wisdom and truth of this passage is true joy for me already but for a small group leader, it magnifies to an even better joy (if there’s anything like that), when what is learned is applied by her small group which also influences many others. Jeni Borja, one of my dear small group members, sent me a text message telling me how our study inspired her to remind herself to be thankful every single day. So she started this campaign on her wall:

[Dated: Dec. 16] 15 days na lang before this year ends. I encourage everyone to share what you are thankful for from the Lord. Wall post everyday for 15 days and may the Lord instill to us a grateful heart at the start of 2011. Big or small, let us praise God ♥

And true enough, it was an effective tool to remind us what we usually forget–to count our blessings and be thankful for them. Not only was she doing this for herself, but she has helped remind others to focus on God and his blessings rather than be affected by the negative circumstances that we cannot control.

Just see how the usual statuses (be it SBCCers or other friends) of rants, complains and other things turned into praises, gratefulness and declarations of God’s awesomeness through his blessings. I know mine have. 🙂

Since I have not gone online for some days, I owe three-day’s worth of “I thank God for”…

1) I thank God for SBCC. For equipping me, building me up, encouraging me, bringing me joy and strengthening me in faith. I truly love this family of God. ❤
2) I thank God for the babe in the manger–JESUS. What amazing power and magnificence He held in that tiny being yet allowed himself to be confined in humanity that He may personally relate to each and everyone of us the wonderful redemptive love of God for all mankind.
3) I thank God for Jeni Borja for being an encouragement to me…at the time I needed most. I love you Jeni! ❤

So there… what is it that you thank God for? 🙂

The difference of a hopeful success

It is amazing how God speaks to his children about certain things. Last night, I was browsing through the archived files in my laptop and found this very old chat message with a friend about 6 years ago on what success means. It made me reflect on what I have accomplished in the past years of my career life and why I am here where I am now. I may not have acquired a Ph.D. (not yet at least) nor have achieved the highest position in the corporate ladder, but I can surely tell you that I have not felt more accomplished nor successful than now.

“To laugh often and much;
to win respect of intelligent people and the affection of the children;
to learn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child.
A garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived…
This is to have succeeded…”

Last Friday at our Staff Devotion, Pastor Noli’s exhortation from Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 breathes into me a renewed sense of purpose, a better perspective of success… and I believe it supersedes everything that was mentioned above.

“You work and worry your way through life, and what do you have to show for it? As long as you live, everything you do brings nothing but worry and heartache. Even at night your mind can’t rest. It is all useless. The best thing we can do is eat and drink (*hey, not the kind of drinking you are thinking of) and enjoy what we have earned. And yet, I realized that even this comes from God. How else could you have anything to eat or enjoy yourself at all? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness to those who please him, but he makes sinners work, earning and saving, so that what they get can be given to those who please him. It is all useless. It is like chasing after the wind.”

~Ecclesiastes 2:22-26 [Good News Translation]

*My words

It all goes back to God. Whatever you have achieved, wherever success takes you, whenever recognitions are given… all is futile unless God is with you on that path. Your existence and the success you achieve can only count for something when it is offered to the Lord.

A hopeful path to success

When I took up Consular and Diplomatic Affairs in college, I aspired to go towards that direction–be an ambassador. Not because I want to gain prestige nor power…but to reach out to the nations. God still indirectly answered that aspiration though. I am no Philippine ambassador, yet God still has allowed me to be an ambassador–an ambassador of His Word. And for me, that weighs a thousand times over than being called an ambassador of the Philippines.

I don’t know what the years ahead hold for me or where the Lord will bring me next but knowing that it is he who began this good work in me will be faithful to complete it, then I will rest assured that what I am doing today will count something for eternity because I serve him. It may not be as glamorous as some people may view it, but to say that I work for THE King of kings and the Lord of lords is far better credential than anything this world can present.

Now this… this, for me, is success.

A Patient’s Story of Triumph

Hi! I know most of you are wondering how I am. So I am posting it here para isahang kwento nalang hehe. Here’s my testimony which I shared last February 14 at our worship service and some more updates about me, which I am sharing with you.

Stomach pain has troubled me for the longest time. I’ve been always complaining about abdominal pain ever so often, especially when I’m at the height of stress or I’ve eaten something that aggravated the acid in my tummy. Sometimes the pain would spread to my back that walking or even sitting up for a few minutes is unbearable. Whenever attacks would happen, I’d go to the doctor and it will be dismissed as peptic ulcer. However, even with prescribed medications, the pain only progressed as the years went by. And this particular night was the worst abdominal pain I’ve ever experienced.

I was rushed to the emergency room of the Manila Doctors’ Hospital on the midnight of February 2 after experiencing intense headache and stomach pain that caused me to throw up and faint. I thought it was the end of me. When I gained consciousness, the pain was so excruciating that I was uttering “God, take me!” on top of my painful cries.”I’m ready to go home anyway then let it be tonight,” I thought. But who am I to ask God that? Instead, God gave me strength to endure the pain until I was wheeled into a private room where I will be further examined by specialists.

Even under medication, the pain in my middle and upper right abdomen never went away. Several tests were done on me to identify the cause of it. The ultrasound read that I had gallstone and one of them found its way in my biliary duct that obstructs the flow of bile which may be the reason for the pain. The doctors told us that I need to undergo ERCP, a procedure that will look into my innards to check the obstruction and which will also try to remove it. My gastro doctor explained to us the complications it will entail like pancreatitis and internal bleeding aside from the fact that he might not be able to take it out depending on the size and solidity of the gallstone; in that case, I would have to undergo an open gall bladder surgery.

It is in this period that I’ve appreciated all the more the meaning of being part of God’s spiritual family. Family and friends shared their own gallstone stories and advised us to seek second opinion. Praise the Lord for how we are all connected in many ways. I was able to seek advice from two good doctors who both told me that undergoing ERCP must be taken though there are other options such as Laparoscopy which won’t have to cut me open in case of a gall bladder operation. So we’ve decided to go with ERCP. However, this gastro doctor is not affiliated with my medical insurance. For the first time since I was confined, worry struck me, “Pa’no na yan, gastos namin?” But I stood in faith, telling God this setback. I prayed, “The one you love is sick, Lord, and I need ERCP to check the cause of pain so that they would know how to address it. I believe you are sovereign and your favor is with me, I will rest in you.” Instantly, worry left me. The evening before the procedure, the insurance agent called us and said that the doctor accredited our health card and we don’t have to worry about the expenses of the procedure. Isn’t God faithful?

The results came back and said that though there were dilatations in the duct, there is no stone! The gastro doctor just placed a stent in me to help the bile to flow since the passageway was inflamed. The surgeon on standby, having no reason to operate on me, cleared me from gall bladder surgery. Hallelujah! God can still cause miracles even to this day. Everybody praying with us praised the Lord for this good news and we were all in high spirits for what God has done. However, the pain remained; even more agonizing than in the days before the procedure. There is no stone that could cause it and the stent should have helped ease the pain at least. They said MRI is needed so that they can see more clearly the bladder and the biliary duct to check why there’s still pain. But the hospital didn’t have the facility and they had to look for another hospital with MRI equipment. It was already the weekend and therefore if the facility is available even in near hospitals, we may have to wait longer to be accommodated. As I lay on the bed, rest evaded me. Literal na namimilipit ako sa sakit. Several pain killers were injected but it would only provide temporary relief. Minutes after, I would writhe again in agonizing pain. I knew this is no longer physical. I am in spiritual warfare. I know it is the enemy who is causing this on me.

Prior to this event, I was at the peak of doing the Lord’s work. Satan is furious because the National Bible Week that happened in January 25-31 proved to be very successful as many Filipinos actively participated in the celebration. Catholics and Protestants, in unity, enthroned the Word of God and His Word was spoken, heard, and declared all over the country. God’s faithful answer to my request during my more than a week of prayer and fasting. God never inflicts his children with sickness. And Satan knows that he can only afflict our physical bodies but never crush our spirits. 2 Cor. 4:8 said “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed but we don’t give up and quit.” Having realized this, I did not allow the enemy to discourage me. Aren’t I more than a conqueror, for he who is in me is greater than he who is in the world? And so whenever intense pain attacks, as we wait for the doctor’s next instruction, I kept declaring, “Lord I will praise you even in pain!”

In every painful episode, it was my mom I was most concerned about. I saw how helpless she felt whenever I would go through each attack. But I thank the Lord for her prayerful spirit. I believe that God honored her faith as I was being healed. That Monday morning, Mama was reminded of James 1:5 through her devotion, “If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.” With that, my mom was strengthened by the Lord and was even given boldness as she spoke to the doctor. She asserted to have a CT scan instead of MRI. The doctor agreed and the next day I was prepared for the procedure.

According to the CT scan, I have a Type 1 choledochal cyst in the biliary duct that has grown to about 4cm. This causes the blockage of the bile that resulted to the abnormal size of my gall bladder. Therefore, whenever the bile is having difficulty flowing, the pain would occur. It is congenital, said the hepatobiliary doctor who was a recent add to the already team of 5 doctors looking into my case. He said there is no other way to take it out but through excision and that the gall bladder has to go with it as well. If I choose to defer the surgery, it would only complicate the condition of the cyst as well as my bladder. Mama and I decided right there to go with the operation. God’s provision of wisdom and favor was with us that day. Since the doctor cannot operate on me until next week, he said I may choose to be discharged and rest at home and be re-admitted for the surgery. I asked kung saan pa syang hospital nagpapractice. It turns out he is also affiliated with PGH, Asian Medical and St. Luke’s among many others. Since he is basically the specialist who will now be taking over my case, with my Papa’s consent, we preferred to go to PGH as it was strategically closer to where we live, much more affordable and hold the best roster of doctors in the country. And to our gratefulness, the doctor said he will be the one to take care of all the hospital reservations needed. God is really amazing.

Even the maxing out of my health card proved to be part of God’s plan. Had they known sooner that it was congenital, none of the hospital expenses will be covered since it is a pre-existing disease. Grabe ang Panginoon talaga, nakakatuwa! Now shouldering all the excess hospital costs, God still proved himself to be a Jehovah Jireh. Blessing upon blessing just poured out. We are all in awe. And so tomorrow, I will be admitted to PGH to prepare me for my Wednesday surgery. It is a major and meticulous operation according to the doctor. But I and my family are not troubled. For we believe that God is with us. We have claimed and believed in Philippians 4:6-7 and that peace is what we have in our hearts now.

I would like to take this time to thank all of you for the blessings and encouragement you sent us through your company, visits, texts, phone calls, provision and earnest prayers during this entire ordeal. God knows who you are and we pray that the Lord will return your goodness a hundred fold, in Jesus’ name. Please do keep praying for me as I claim Jeremiah 30:17, “I will give you back your health and heal your wounds, says the Lord.” After this, I will carry on and never stop. I will declare the Word of God and make him known. People need to know our great God. I also want them to experience the same joy I have in my heart because he is my Lord. The enemy may try to cause yet another affliction, but I will not back down. Bring it on! I am not afraid because Jesus has given me victory. Paul reminds the believers in 2 Cor. 4:7, 11, “But this special treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own… Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies.” What amazing privilege to be used by Him! After this, Pastor Dave will discuss the earlier verses of this portion so that we will be encouraged more and won’t lose heart. In all that has happened, to God be all glory and praise for I live for Him alone. Good morning!

Right now I am out of the hospital and currently recovering at home in Laguna. I am doing well sans my gall bladder and the cyst that has kept me in pain for years. All systems are working properly. I can also eat full meals, though in smaller portions still. I can move around and sit up without assistance. Praise God for his healing! I am grateful to God also for Dr. Crisostomo Arcilla Jr. who did the surgery and has given us favor in my entire 9-day confinement in PGH. He has truly been a blessing to me and my family.

Surely I have personally witnessed God’s hand upon us in this situation. I never could imagine going through it without Jesus. I am glad he is my Lord and he loves me. Again, thank you to everyone who prayed with us, your faith has glorified the Lord. I will see you all very soon! To my family who supported and looked after me, may the Lord bless you indeed and strengthen you. And to Daniel, in sickness or in health, you were there—thank you for taking care of me… I love you.

And to God Almighty who won this battle for me… Hallelujah!

This is my story. This is how God showed me victory. And you my friend, whatever you may be going through, take heart, for the Lord has overcome it for you.

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The only One I want

“When the years are showing on my face
And my strongest days are gone
When my heart and flesh depart this place
From a life that sung your song

You’ll still be the one I want.

:: Arithmetic, Brooke Fraser

God reminds me again…

ISAIAH 42:8-13

“I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols.

See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
you islands, and all who live in them.

Let the desert and its towns raise their voices;
let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice.
Let the people of Sela sing for joy;
let them shout from the mountaintops.

Let them give glory to the LORD
and proclaim his praise in the islands.

The LORD will march out like a mighty man,
like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;
with a shout he will raise the battle cry
and will triumph over his enemies.

*******

And once again, I am awed at how great this God I serve.

Lord, may you find my life, always a pleasing offering to You. When I begin to forget again, bring me to my knees like this and remind me of who You are.

You deserve to be worshiped and revered because you are Almighty.

Remind me always that

YOU ARE GOD.

Bringing light into Troubled Filipino Homes

ilaw sa tahanan

ilaw sa tahanan

For people forced out of their make-shift homes in slum areas, resentment, discouragement, sense of injustice and hopelessness are normal reactions. Understandably, it’s not easy adjusting to a new environment. Coupled with the fact that those affected often view the government who forced them out of their homes with animosity, their new community with dislike, and new neighbors with distrust, getting relocated is seldom an easy process. But for the Philippine Bible Society (PBS), it was an opportunity to meet a need, a way of bringing hope into seeming hopeless situations, and a ministry door that opened a way for God’s love and Word to be shared.

Through Ilaw sa Tahanan, a special Bible produced and distributed by PBS to relocated families, enlightenment and illumination came to many troubled homes. Many received and found hope in God’s promises while others received inspiration in the supplemental articles that tackle issues faced by relocated families.

Gina C. David, 41 years old, a mother of 8 relocated in Northville 9, Relocation Site, Barangay Ibaoeste, Calumpit, Bulacan, shares her story. “It really strengthens my faith and gives hope like a light shining through. It also became a way to encourage my neighbors to really trust in the Lord Jesus.” One such neighbor is Theresa Balitos, 54, who expresses gratefulness for having received a free copy of the Ilaw sa Tahanan Bible which she says, is now her guide to life. “Iba talaga pag nagbabasa ka ng Biblia, maitatama ang iyong landas (It’s really different when you read the Bible, it will straighten your ways),” adds her 21-year old daughter Princess who was also changed by the Word of God.

Raising children in itself is already a challenge, but doing it single-handedly in unfamiliar territory, is no doubt even more so. Widow Emlyn Rumaldo says the Bible is where she finds strength to raise her kids aged 15, 14 and 11. “Malaking bagay ang Biblia kasi ang mga anak ko ay napapalaki ko ng maayos at nakakasama ko sila sa church (The Bible is very helpful because I’m able to raise my children properly and we go to church together).”

God is true to his word that all who seek shall find. Amidst life’s numerous problems, Felisitas Tiongson, the 52-year-old wife of Home Owners Association President Lorenzo Tiongson, says they found refuge and salvation through Ilaw sa Tahanan. Meanwhile, Pastor Manny Depues of Jesus The Rock Assemblies Church, who followed up on and ministered to those who received copies of Ilaw remarks on how receptive the families in Northville 9 Relocation Site are to God’s Word. He gladly shares that the labor is not in vain but is instead now bearing fruit.

With a copy of Ilaw sa Tahanan in their hands, these once homeless, hopeless families found security, hope, and a happier future. And, as sure as the light that burns brightly in their homes, so too shall the love for God’s and his Word now burn in their heart.

The Bridge

The Gospel in a nutshell, captured on video.

This video was shown during the 1st session in the Transformers Camp led by Pastor Vincent. Actually, the scenes are excerpts from the movie MOST which was nominated for best live-action short film in the Oscars. Kudos goes to this person who made the video for his church. Watch it and be moved as all of us were at the camp.

Thank you Jesus for the sacrifice. Thank you Father for the love.

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To dance for You

Oh how I long to dance with You, my Lord.

One day, God… One day, I will dance for You like this. I will dance to worship You–to dance according to how my heart leads… my heart that longs only for You.

You picked me up from the rubble and cleanse me
Until I’m all shiny and new.
I was groping in the dark,
You took my hand.
I was uncertain,
You quiet my heart.
I was hurt,
You showed me Your love.

God, You have proven Your love for me.
Many times, Lord… many times.
And with that I give,
ALL MY HEART
To You alone.
To You alone.

Now, I will be still and know you are God.

Your daughter,
Normi