Sunday, November 22, 2009


It's really just around the bend. Families are now scurrying around making plans for the holidays, especially the first one coming up, the Thanksgiving holiday. Majority of the families in America are now lining up recipe books and filling up the pantry and the refrigerator with ingredients and ready meals for Thanksgiving dinner. Schedules were already moved to either a day before or after November 26, 2009 to allow ample time to celebrate Thanksgiving with the entire family. Many already have made plans to gather together for dinner on this fourth Thursday of November to enjoy each other's company. I wonder how many of these families, though, would sit down and really remember why they celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Being an immigrant in the United States of America, I have not yet become very familiar with the many other holidays that this country celebrate aside from the major Christmas and New Year that my own country, the Philippines, celebrate. When I arrived in 2006, I was introduced to this other major holiday as we were making our work schedules in the hospital. A lot of the Filipino families who are already in America have been holding Thanksgiving dinners with friends and families just because it's a national holiday that everybody else is celebrating. But do we really understand the reality behind Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving iss one important holiday Americans celebrate each year. You would find yourself surrounded with images of pumpkins, turkeys, cornucopias, corn and fruits like cranberries the moment Thanksgiving approaches. So I did my little research and extra readings that led me to understand that this particular holiday had a very rich and interesting origin. To make the long story short, it was a celebration of harvest of the legendary Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. It was literally a celebration of Thanksgiving on the divine providence of God. Native Indians taught these pilgrims how to survive by growing their food. The pilgrims had a period of prayer and fasting to ask God to help their crops grow amidst the drought that took place. They eventually survived as they learnt to grow corn, beans and pumpkins from the Indians, most especially from the rain that God provided. In Autumn of 1621, the pilgrims organized a feast and they gathered together, with the Indians as their guests, to celebrate the bountiful blessings that they have received from God. The fourth Thursday of November became a permanent and official national holiday in America in 1941 as it was established by Congress.

It is quiet interesting to know that the origins of this particular holiday were humble hearts of pilgrims who acknowledged the Sovereignty of God in His provisions for them. This particular holiday was basked in prayer and fasting hundreds of years ago as these pilgrims placed their hope and trust in the Almighty God. It really makes me wonder if this is still the case today. I really wonder if the families who celebrate Thanksgiving still spend time in prayer (and fasting) in order to give thanks to God who has been Sovereign in all circumstances in our lives. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that we should...

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 

The verse does not say in SOME circumstances, but in ALL circumstances. It also didn't say giving thanks FOR all circumstances but IN all circumstances. Giving thanks in all circumstances does not mean being thankful if a loved one died in an accident. It doesn't mean being thankful that a friend is chronically and terminally ill. It doesn't mean that we are to thank God if our neighbor or a church member lost the only job that sustains their family. It's not the kind of thanksgiving that makes us robots just because of the sake of being thankful. It means that even if our circumstances are grim, we can thank God in all these because of His sovereign grace to help us carry through whatever storm we are facing. We ought to be reminded that we are to thank God for He is in control and that He is your sustainer when your emotional, spiritual and physical strength could no longer do. 

My prayer this Thanksgiving holiday is that every family who will gather together will remember to praise and thank God in all the circumstances that they have in life. It doesn't matter if there is a delicious, whole, golden brown turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce on your table, or there's just a piece of pumpkin pie before your family this Thanksgiving. Let us all bow our heads down and spend time to give back all the Praise & Thanksgiving that our Lord and Savior, our Almighty Father deserves. He has continually blessed us beyond what we deserve, therefore, may we acknowledge His Sovereign power and control over ALL the circumstances in our lives and may we one day come to a point of gratitude where the ultimate offering of our lives consecrated to Him and Him alone be our only priority in this lifetime.

May God richly bless and keep you and your family this Thanksgiving holiday 2009!

Monday, November 2, 2009

From Kenya with Love

FBCP (First Baptist Church Pearland) has just recently launched their Kenya Orphans & Orphanage Ministry. God has made it possible for the ministry to put up an orphanage located in Kenya, Africa just outside the city of Homa Bay in the Kwoyo Village. This orphanage will house about 120 children that were abandoned for many different reasons.  The church launched the sponsorship program of the orphans in the month of October 2009 and has seen God's awesome power through the 120 orphans now lovingly sponsored by different families in church.

God really works in wonderful ways as He has allowed everything to fall into place in His time. His purpose in our lives always prevails and all the circumstances that surround us (whether we consider them good or bad)  will turn out to be a way for us to grow in our walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.

As you all know, our children are all back home in the Philippines at the moment. Being far away from them has given me the heart that beats towards children who are far from their parents, most especially those who no longer have their parents like the orphans of Kenya. God has prepared my heart to be able to sponsor a child through the Orphanage Program and help house, feed, teach and keep them safe. Being away from my own children made my heart pour out to these beautiful children whom God created. I could not imagine how they must feel not having any parent around to hold them and tell them they are loved most especially by God.

I have been struggling with the desire to homeschool my own children recently for the main reason to be able to teach them diligently the way they should go. My heart has longed to bring up my own children to bring glory to God in every way they can, teaching them biblical principles and helping them develop a deep sense of longing and love for Jesus Christ their Savior. What has made me so glad and willing to sponsor an orphan was the fact that these children will also grow up knowing the Lord. They will also be taught with biblical principles above other things. It makes me happy to know that God has brought a child in need into our lives to allow us to demonstrate & share His love and grace. What better way to teach my own children compassion and love but to show them that our family is being and doing so to a child in Kenya. And what better way to let the children in Kenya know that God is truly a loving God that even if their biological parents have abandoned them, they are birthed with Love in the hearts of the families who sponsored them.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

Let me introduce Felix to you (no, not the cat..hehe...). 
He is our 8-year old in Kenya, Africa. 

I am praying that God will one day allow our family to visit him in the orphanage. I pray that God will continue to supply for all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus! Pray for the orphans. Pray for Kenya. Pray for Africa. Pray for our world.

To the Jews First

I do not know how to begin with this particular post. The excitement running within my veins is sometimes too much to handle! (hehe) Anyway, let me share to you an experience I hope and pray would stir your soul to "Go!" for Jesus.

God has led me to the bible study group of First Baptist Church in Pearland's Mission/Evangelism Pastor, Pastor Don Schwarz. And just last Saturday, October 31, 2009, we attended a class on evangelism with Alan & Lynn Bond from a group called Jews for Jesus. It somewhat hyped me up because, allow me to let you in on a little secret, I am 6.25% Jew! (For real!) Hahaha... My great-grandfather stowed away from Italy years ago and came to the Philippines to start a new life there. It had always been a fact in our family that he was Jewish. I grew up being told that my great-grandfather was a "Hudeo" (as we call it in Filipino) or a Jew. I was never brought up with the Jewish culture, though,  if that's what you wanted to know. And we never really knew if my great-grandfather's family ever lived their lives following Jewish practices. My family was already mostly Catholic in their practice. Unfortunately, we never got the chance to reconnect with my great-granfather's side of the family anymore as we know very little of it. But it's exciting to know that 6.25% of me is Jewish by blood. (Praise my Y'shua!--- I learned that this is how Jews say "Jesus".)

Amazingly, God has led me to join an outreach we had for Jews for Jesus. It was the very first time I ever did something like that. It honestly gave me another push to really "Go!" for Jesus. This time, following the right route as Paul laid it out to us:

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16) NIV

It was around 2:30 in the afternoon when Pastor Don gathered us in church.  We were scheduled to do some door-to-door evangelism and "bannering" that afternoon to reach out to any Jew in the community of Pearland, TX. I was imagining myself with the door-to-door group until Pastor Don popped my bubble! (haha... just kidding. It was God, if you could ever read this, Pastor Don.) I was included in the group that would hold the banners along a busy street and wave at people. My flesh initially cringed at the idea! (hehehe) I was thinking, Whoa! me? hold a banner and wave at people in their cars? Uhm... let me think (twice) about what I've gotten myself into... The result?

(Work it, girls! In Y'shua's name!)
 There's my BIG smile & wave; with Ms. Berta, Ms. Shirley & little Hope.)

Boy, you would never really know what hit 'ya when the Holy Spirit starts working! I had so much fun that afternoon waving and smiling at all the people that drove past us. It was such a blessing to have seen them wave & smile back. Some even gave their approving honks! (God was so gracious to us first timers to have protected us from negative responses at that time.) I was so hyper that afternoon that an entire hour standing there seemed like 5 mins. (I guess that was how Paul talked on and on for hours until midnight in the book of Acts!) God really didn't give us a spirit of timidity but of BOLDNESS! Praise Him forever!

The activity led me to realize that when we christians truly follow what Jesus had commanded us to do, to "Go and make disciples of ALL nations..." it should stir in us an urgency to go out of our comfort zones and reach out to the lost in this world. We are, after all, living in the end times and there are still so many of our family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances,  neighbors, and people in our community that needed the gospel!

I praise the Lord for allowing me to be a part of the Jews for Jesus evangelistic outreach this first week of November. Jesus is the promised Messiah for the Jews. Jesus is also the Savior of the Gentiles. May we, as the body of Christ, be emboldened by the Holy Spirit to reach out to the lost. It is, after all, the only work we were called to do on this earth. The rest of the picture of our lives on earth becomes incorporated in it and not the other way around. 

(Bro. Paul & Bro. Roy holding their banner a few meters from where we were.)

Are you A PART or APART?

Many of us profess our faith as Christians so easily without any effort these days. It seems like it's just a simple thing to say "I'm a Christian." But have we ever come to a point in our lives where we realize that there is more to it than saying we're Christians? The reality of it, sad as it is, is that so many of us are so blinded and ignorant of the TRUTH these days that we don't bother to delve into the real sense and meaning of our being a Christian (or let me use the more convicting way of putting it... "Christ-follower!").

Did we forget along the way that we are considered "DISCIPLES" of our Lord Jesus Christ? After all, He did command us to "Go and make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19). We are His learners, He is our Teacher. Therefore, if we would ever allow our mouths or hearts to say we're His "followers" we ought to make sure that we are made His "disciples" as well. Yet, a lot of christians these days are only good about "professing" to be one. If you are around them, though, you would realize that they look like the world, smell like the world, walk like the world, live like the rest of the world. They blend with the world so beautifully that they easily become a part of the facade of the world. How then can we say that we are truly Christ's disciples when we don't even stand out? If we PROFESS with our mouths that we are followers of Jesus, so called "Christians", we ought to remember that Jesus prayed for us this way:

"I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, 
but for those you have given me,  for they are yours." (John 17:9) NIV

It strikes me to know that Jesus himself made it so clear that for those of us who are His and consider ourselves followers of Him, we are no longer a part of the world. We become a different entity, we instead become set apart from the world.

In the kind of world we're living in today, it is but easy to blend in and go with the flow. The many things that can bombard an individual, even a (professing) "believer", to stray away from God has grown so powerfully these days. Almost all activities we do, even the simplest of it at home like watching TV or getting into the internet or even just trying to laugh at a co-worker's dirty joke, will cause us to be robbed of our focus and time with and for God. And we need to remember that we are so much a part of the world if we don't stand out for God's glory. If we are always in our "comfort zones" then we must rethink our stand in life. We must go back to examining ourselves if we are apart or a part of this world!

The apostle Paul reminds us to live our lives that would be a spiritual worship to God our Father. It is but a responsibility and an accountability on our part as "Christians" to be set apart!

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:1-2) NIV

We must not deceive ourselves by just saying we are followers of Jesus. Those around us must be able to recognize that. We must not just blend with the rest of it. We stand out for Jesus! Let me share a verse in Ecclesiastes that led me to writing this post:

"Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head."
(Ecclesiastes 9:8) ESV

We, as Jesus' disciples, will definitely stand out with garments of white amidst a dark worldly backdrop! We ought to make sure our garments are ALWAYS white. This symbolizes RIGHTEOUSNESS, pure & unblemished! How can we ever be sure to ALWAYS have a white garment when our sinful nature struggles within us? The answer is easy, for if we have Jesus in our lives, we are more than conquerors! We will overcome! (Read Revelations 3:1-5)  

The author of Ecclesiastes says that we must be sure that we do not lack oil in our heads! Oil have always been used to anoint someone. By definition in christianity, anointing means to apply oil to as a sign of consecration or sanctification. And in case you do not know the meaning of being consecrated, it simply means  to declare or set apart as sacred. In the Old Testament we read that this anointing of oil is usually just related to the lineage of priests allowing them to approach the holy presence of God. Are we to claim this anointing of oil on our heads then? Listen, as disciples of our Lord Jesus we in the New Testament have this promise and guarantee:

"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

"But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth."
(1 John 2:20)

Friends, we ought to remember 2 Timothy 1:7, that we have not been given a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power! When we proclaim to the rest of this world that we are for Jesus, then we must be bold enough to be A PART of this community of "genuine" believers and make clear to all that we are APART from the world.



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