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Loving God

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Today, as I search my heart, I don’t need to ask why my quiet time for almost a month is about loving Him. I have become too focused with myself, with what I want and lost sight of Him.  Forgetting that the God I believe in is the same God that created the earth and everything that is in it. I must confess, sometimes I become so engrossed with my self-interest or get caught up with the cares of this world that I tend to forget what I learned about God and what He is capable of.

I love the LORD and I desire to love Him more each day. But I discover that claiming I love Him is not enough.  There are things that I need to give up. There are still areas in my life that I need to surrender before the LORD so He can move and mold me into a woman that He intended me to be.  

If I say I love Him and yet I continue doing things as I please, then I am being hypocrite. When we love someone, we do everything to please that person, right? So it is with the LORD.  For me, to love the LORD is to deny myself.  To give Him all that I am and all that I have. To pour my life for His glory.

As I read the Bible and look at the lives of the early Christians, I realize how passive I am.

Father God, I keep failing when it comes to loving you with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength (Mark 12:30), forgive me. I ask for Your grace that I may abandon myself to You and love You with all that I am. 

O Woman of Beautiful Values — By: David Bonifacio

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This was supposed to be my piece in a publication but I think it’s turned out for the best that I’m publishing it here. I think Valentines is also a great time to post this because of all the external pressures and internal longings of the season. I’m adding this to my series: This Is Who You Are.

I was asked to write something, anything, from a guy’s perspective, and one thing I want to remind you from the start is that there are many kinds of guys, just as there are many kinds of girls. So my perspective may not be what people would consider the common guy perspective. I won’t be writing about secrets to keep your man happy, or whether I wear boxers or briefs, or what I think makes a woman sexy.
Instead, I have written a short piece on a different kind of woman, a woman I find both fascinating and challenging because of the standards she upholds. She is a rare kind of person, and in this world that promotes sexiness, fortune, fame, and everything fleeting, she is an endangered species – and that makes her all the more beautiful.

It doesn’t take an expert to know that the more rare something is, the more valuable it is. We know this from art, from jewelry, from antiques, to cars, to even bags, and haute couture. Let’s take the very famous Birkin bag for example. While many people are impressed by it, very few will know the answer as to why they’re so expensive in the first place. I asked a few fashion friends, and what did they tell me? “Because it’s Hermes!”

Powerful branding, yes. Deep thinking, no.

Let me tell you why a Birkin commands such a high price: craftsmanship, materials used, maker, and lastly, rarity.

First of all only expert artisans work on the bags which are handmade and bearing the Hermes’ signature saddle stitching. It takes about 2 days to make one bag. The materials are from various specialty tanners that give each bag a distinct smell and texture. Given that the process is so meticulous and the attention to quality so focused, the result is a strong albeit heavy bag that is one of a kind. In other words each is distinct. Each is rare.

More rare than a Birkin, more rare and infinitely more valuable than the treasures of the Earth is a Woman of Beautiful Values. What is she? Who is she?

She is a woman who is not dictated by the trends, not easily impressed with the famous, not swayed by worldly pressures, and not discouraged by life’s challenges. She is a woman who knows her values, what’s truly important to her, and pursues them with focus and discipline, faith and hope, perseverance and passion.

Some may say, “I know a lot of women like that. What’s so rare about that?”

Well it’s the second part. Not only does she pursue her values, THE DIFFERENCE IS IN WHAT SHE VALUES.What makes her so rare is what she makes important in her life.

Values are the things we hold important. What we value becomes obvious based on what we spend our time, energy, and money on. Think about it? When a guy likes a girl, he spends whatever time, energy, and money he has on her. When a girl wants to shop, she spends time, energy, and money. When a parent has children, he or she spends time, energy, and money. And the more valuable something or someone is to us, the more we spend time, energy, and money on it.

A Woman of Beautiful Values spends time, energy, and money on cultivating her inner being, not just her physical shell, because she understands that who she is inside is she who she truly is when age and nature and life strips youth. She cultivates her mind with noble thoughts and learning. She fills her soul with noble inspirations. She grows in spirit through faith. Though no one sees or commends her, nor puts her on a list of most sexy, a Woman of Beautiful Values is secure in understanding, that what is essential is invisible to the eye, as the book The Little Prince so eloquently says.

A Woman of Beautiful Values spends her time, energy, and money on beautiful things. What are beautiful things? These are things that matter, things that last, starting with other people. A Woman of Beautiful Values spends her time, energy, and money on making other people better.

Her life’s emphasis is making the lives of others beautiful, not so much in proving her own beauty. She desires to lift others up, even at her expense because she understands that this is what it means to truly love.

A Woman of Beautiful Values spends her time, energy, and money on living a life of true love. She seeks to validate, not to be validated. She seeks to serve, not to be served. She seeks to give, not to take. Yet she does not lack validation, nor service, nor gifts, because in her is a cistern full from a lifetime of investing in her soul and spirit.

A Woman of Beautiful Values values God most. There is a humility that comes with complete dependence on God. Humility comes with admitting that we cannot live this life without Him. Humility isn’t silence or the lack of bragging. It is seen when one exhibits willful service, gracious forgiveness, and quiet trust.

To sum it up, a Woman of Beautiful Values is full of faith, hope, and love because she embraces the source of these three virtues: God.

ONE OF A KIND. I like that phrase. That’s a Woman of Beautiful Values. It signifies rarity, that among everything and everyone in this class, you’re set apart. You’re special. There’s no one like you.

O Woman of Beautiful Values, don’t envy the common ways – no matter how famous, no matter how enticing, no matter how euphoric, for the world needs more ladies like you. Don’t worry if you’re not on a billboard, people don’t advertise their treasures. Don’t worry if you’re not sought, there are really more fans than there are connoisseurs.

Have I described a standard too lofty? Maybe. But the thought of you inspires me. More than your benefits, I know one thing is for sure, that someone this full, this attractive, this impossibly unattainable is worth every moment, every effort, every expense.

Stay strong, stay resolute, stay full of love, O Woman of Beautiful Values, be a light.

In Love’s Waiting Room? There’s Hope! By Stacie Ruth Stoelting

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– Valentine’s Day always catalyzes the “I’m so sad I’m single” syndrome. People dive in and jump out of relationships so quickly.  “In a relationship” or “no longer in a relationship” flood the front pages of Facebook today.
But how should Christian singles (of marriageable age) handle relationships in real-life? Many temptations exist today. My friends ask questions all the time. And I get asked out. So the topic seems pretty popular in my circle.
A couple of years ago, a guy really tempted me: I was asked to accompany a dashing serviceman to an exquisite ball. (Yes, a ball like in “Cinderella” ball! Hey, girls, stop squealing! You haven’t read my answer to the invitation.)
I refused. Why? He wasn’t a believer. So my ball gown remained in the closet that night.
Some people may say, “Hey, Stacie, you’re way extreme. It was just one date.” Well, one date launches a rocket of emotions and unacceptable possibilities.
Now, I am not against trying different ways to meet people. I’m simply not going to rush or push. That doesn’t work. (Think Abraham and Hagar.) In spite of ample opportunities, I’ve chosen to date some, but not much. Why? I want to guard my heart, guys’ hearts, and utilize Christ-centered criteria.
Yes, I’m a super-busy, unmarried twenty-four year old woman with a passion for the Gospel. I keep my romantic status private on Facebook for good reason: I’m not dating for attention. I’m dating with intention.
Matchmakers flock to me and offer their best services –and sometimes their sons! But I gently, kindly refrain from most. Why? I believe that my Maker is my matchmaker.

Self righteousness

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I got the news that I’m going to lead a Discipleship Group (Dgroup) and that there’s someone who will assist me leading a certain group. When I found out who the person was, I wanted to protest, “why her? she has an unbelieving boyfriend? she can’t even obey God when it comes to her love life?” I’m thinking the one who appointed me is making a mistake in choosing  her. I wanted to protest. I wanted to tell her what I am thinking but I held my silence and talk to God about it.

It was then that God made me see my mistake. The person may have disobeyed God in the area of her love life but who am I to judge? Instead of judging her, I should use the opportunity to get closer to her and guide her until she will fully grasp the love of His Christ and how important obedience is to Him.  It is God’s business to change the heart of a person, not mine. I can be His instrument but I cannot never change a person’s heart.

It frustrates me that after so much talk with her about having an unbelieving boyfriend she still chooses to follow what she wants instead of God’s. But then, knowing that she is still new in her faith and then she’s been wanting for someone for a long time, I can only respect her decision. In time, God will empower her to do His will. God will work in her life–in her heart. And my task is to love her and guide her and be with her as her friend, as her sister in the Lord. No condemnation. Only Acceptance.

I praise the Lord for rebuking me for being self-righteous and giving me a way come to repentance to Him. I once been in that kind of situation, I’ve almost made a commitment to someone who doesn’t share my faith. I know how difficult and hurting it can be when you are to choose between what you want and what God wants. It was only His grace, it was Him who empower me to do what pleases Him.

God has different ways in working in the lives of people. I should stop trying to change people my way and start praying hard for them. I should have known myself that there are moments when i should what pleases me or seem good to me even when I know it is not what God wants from me. I should always remember that I myself is not perfect and i made mistakes and wrong choices.

All I am and all I have is a work of His grace. I should be extending grace too horizontally. I am so grateful and blessed to have a loving and forgiving God. I am not proud for what I did but I am thankful that God is pruning me, working in my character.

Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.

 For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you. –Matthew 7: 1-2

The Great Commission

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The preaching yesterday was taken from Matthew 28:16-20. I felt guilt as I listened to our Pastor.  Several  times when God has given me opportunities to share the Gospel, but I let it passed because “Lord, I don’t know how to share the Gospel. Please just send someone else like a Pastor, a Missionary, an Elder, because they can present it better that I do.” I have been a Christian for 11 years now and yet the thought of sharing the Gospel to my loved ones, to my friends/acquaintances still scares me.

When was the last time I shared the Gospel?  When was the last time I touched someone’s life? Truth be told, I can’t remember.

As I ponder what our Pastor preached about. I come to know how passive I am. Thinking that as long as I go to church, attend Dgroup, serve in the ministry, then, that would be enough.  But as a disciple of Christ, I’m also given the command to share the Gospel—to make disciples.

If I am willing, God will enable me to share the Gospel but, I just don’t want to because I fear rejection.  But then, God didn’t give the command without His promise that He will be with me.  I discover that whenever He asks us to do something for Him there’s always a promise along with that command. Why? Because He knows that we always doubt if we can do it. That we always look at the problem or how big the task is before we say “yes” to Him.

I remember reading a book written by Joyce Meyer, she said that obedience is not just the Ten Commandments but it is also about what God is asking us to do.  And I agree with her. As a follower of Christ, we are not to choose which command of His that we feel like doing or obeying. We are to obey every command He has given us. And Matthew 28: 19-20 is one of them.

Mostly, we Christians have become so complacent in telling other people about Jesus Christ—-about salvation, that we just let the Pastors, Missionaries and other full-time workers for the Lord to do it. But the command was not just given to them but to us who profess as Christ’s followers. When we were still new in the faith, we were so eager to share what God has done for us. Now, the longer we are in the Lord, the less we talk about Him, His love, His mercy, His grace and His goodness. Is it not that the longer we know the Lord, the more eager we are to share Him–about Him to the lost?

I still have fear, a part of me still don’t want to obey but I opt to do the right thing and which that please the Lord.   And so Lord I pray for eagerness and faithfulness to share Your Word. Again, it is YOU who will work through me.

As we obey, we will face challenges, rejection and all but didn’t God promise that He will be with us? HE didn’t say that if we obey everything will just be smooth sailing. No. Heaven is not here. If everything is to be easy and perfect then there’s no use of having Him in our life, His promises would be meaningless.

 

19 Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).–

Matthew 28:19-20

When Mastered by Fear

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Late of 2012, I was approached by one of the teachers in K.I.S.S (Kids in Sunday School) asking me to start teaching. I just smiled. She asked me how long I plan to assist.  Again, I just smiled.  She went on telling me about her experience. Before the conversation ended, I’m told to pray about it. I know that as much as K.I.S.S. Ministry needs Assistant Teachers, we also need more Teachers.  I saw the need but I am just too scared to volunteer and to commit. I am not sure if I can take the responsibility and if I have the patience of teaching kids with ages 4-6 who would love to run and play around instead of listening. I love kids. I just don’t think that I have the ability to teach. I don’t want them to go out in the room having to learn nothing. I desire that at that young age I can make a difference in their lives by letting them understand by heart about Jesus Christ and His love for them—for all of us. I desire that young as they maybe, they’ll start loving the Lord and learning to choose to please Him in everything simply because they love Him. I don’t know how you will react to this but that’s what is in my heart. I believe every teacher desires that.

It is my desire to teach and to lead a Dgroup. I know it will please the Lord. But my heart and mind was filled with fear and doubt. Do I really have the ability? Am I capable? Most of all, is it from God or it’s just me? I prayed, God answered me but I refuse to accept it.

This week is prayer and fasting week.  Day 1 the message was taken from Exodus 33, where God promised Moses that His Presence will go with him. It was very clear but I said it’s not for me, it’s for my friend who is about to make a big decision. Day 2 came, I was struck when Marty Ocaya said, “in every prayer we make, there’s an action we take”.  You see, I have been praying that God will remove my fear and doubt.  It will not happen if I’m not going to take a leap of faith. Nothing will happen if  I will just sit there and wait when I don’t have to fear, when I don’t have to doubt and so that is the time to start what God asked me to do. No. That is not how God works.  It’s like when we are praying to know God and then He is leading us to do something or give up something for Him so He can work in us, and we didn’t do it, then we fail to know him— to experience Him.  We fail to see His power work in us.

Day 3, Paul Tan-Chi shared about the need to listen to God for us to grow. As respond, I talked to God. I told Him, “Lord, please speak. I’m listening.  I know I’m being stubborn but I wanted to be certain. I’m making you feel bad but please be patient with me. Can You please give me a verse or passage in the Bible that I can always hold on and go back to whenever I start to doubt again?” I’m just so glad to have a loving and patient God. :) He lead me to Proverbs 3:5-6 it states: ”Lean on, trust in ,and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths”.   After reading these verses over and over again, I finally acknowledge that it is God.

When God calls, He gives the desire. When we respond to His call, we can be certain that He is with us in every way. I’ve handle a Dgroup before, I don’t know why this time it scares me. Maybe because the Church is big and I only know a few people.  Maybe because it’s been a year , I got used and comfortable with no persons under my care to attend to. I don’t know.  All I know is that God made me see the need for volunteers and I’m called to respond.  Fear and doubt is not from the Lord. I should not be listening to the enemy who is trying so hard to destroy my faith with lies.

It’s been my prayer to know God more and more. To experience Him. But without obeying Him, how can I ever experience Him.

A friend reminded me that on my own, the task, teaching kids and leading a Dgroup would be gigantic but because my God is with me, because He is for me and He will be working through me, it will become a ministry that I take joy in doing.

(Not in your own strength) for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you (energizing and creating in you the power and desire), both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. –Philippians 2:13

How to Find a Godly Guy in a Godly Way

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1. Give God the pen and let Him keep it.

2. Pursue Jesus Christ not marriage

3. Spend your time serving not searching.

—Leslie Ludy

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