Will your future be thankful from your decisions today?

We are who we are today because of the decisions we made in the past. If you are physically fit today, it’s because you decided to commit to being fit. Maybe the best question we can ask ourselves today is “Years from now, will I be grateful for the decisions I made today?”

More than 10 years ago, during 2009 prayer and fasting week, I prayed and believed for the impossible to happen in my life and that was to go back to college and get a degree. During that time, I was working as a call center agent and helping provide for my family in the province. The financial challenges in my family drove me to give up the dream of a college degree and accept the weight of being the breadwinner.

But it was through a class in church back in 2007 that once again reignited that desire. Since then it has been constantly brewing in my heart, a hopeful thought that haunted me for two years. My response to this thought was resistance and saying how could it be possible? Considering the weight of responsibility I felt for my family. Who would support and help my family if I pursue my desire?

At the 2009 prayer and fasting, I said to God, yes I want it, and I want to continue. Started believing in my heart what can be, rather than what cannot. I felt it was God calling me on this and it was Him who put this desire burning in my heart. The one who called me is ultimately faithful and in that I rested.

A month after the prayer and fasting, my mom called me up to share her good news! She was hired to work in Macau as a domestic helper. The month that followed was another answered prayer, my sister’s education in a private school will be fully supported financially by a relative until she graduates. Isn’t that great?

God took off every hindrance, showing that truly nothing is impossible with Him. That year I resigned from work and went back to college as a full time student. The journey wasn’t easy, there was plenty of hurdles along the way, but the very words of God brought sustenance and strength throughout the journey.

Today I am grateful that I had made that decision to respond in faith. I am thankful that God enabled me to move in hope in a seemingly cornered and hopeless situation. This experience enabled me as well to see God in action in my life.

But truly the best decision I ever made was the moment I accepted Jesus Christ in my heart as my Lord and Savior back in 2006. I would not have the faith to believe for the possibilities If I did not embrace his Lorship over all things . I am in Christ, so is my life and all it’s circumtance.

At the end of the day, we all make faith decisions.

Three things I want to point out;

• Never make life decisions base on personal limitations.

• Pray and trust God in all circumstance.

• Obey and act in faith in accordance to God’s words and promises.

What decisions are seemingly challenging and impossible for you, but will make you thankful in the years to come?

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3 ways to Cultivate Spiritual Hunger

How do we set up ourselves for greater desire for intimacy with God and spiritual growth? Or maybe do you desire to know God more and more in your relationship with Him? Would you want to experience God more than before? May these 3 ways help you cultivate spiritual hunger.

1. Ask for it.

Asking entails humbling ourselves before God, acknowledging that left to our own, we cannot do it. We need God’s power and grace in our lives to enable us to hunger and thirst for more of Him in our lives.

For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened. – Mathew 7:8

Spiritual hunger is something that we cannot manufacture on our own. Asking God is our starting point in all things, developing intimacy requires communication.

2. Develop Spiritual Disciplines.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11

Starting new disciplines isn’t always easy at start; but it springs from a heart that is committed to growth and intimacy with the Almighty, not by obligation but of joyful delight. If God is of top priority, then daily spiritual discipline is nonnegotiable.

These are personal disciplines of reading and understanding the Word, reflection, prayer confession, and obedience to the Word.

The more we discipline ourselves, the more we know God, the more we desire for more of Him and growing in trust in Him. Spiritual disciplines are never the means to attain salvation but the means to get deeper in knowledge of God.

3. Preach the Gospel to self and accept it daily.

Our understanding of the gospel directly impacts how we live our lives and so are our misunderstandings about it. We need to be reminded of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and its implications. Reminding ourselves of the Gospel keeps us grounded to our own depravity. Accepting the gospel daily sets us free from our inadequacy and it enables us to live the life to full in Christ.

The gospel leads us to inside-out transformation.

As we end: let me encourage with this promise:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” – Mathew 5:6 ESV

What The Past Year Taught Me

When life and circumstances seems crippling, cornered and no where to go, succumb to darkness of hopeless and grief; a time when emotions are high and overwhelming.

The days felt like days of mourning and grief, as if someone you dearly loved passed away. Moment of immense tears and sadness no words can ever describe. Such a despair I can only do but cry.

This was me a week before entering 2018, the last quarter of 2017 had a plotwist that brought much pain and challenge, a time when life and circumstances hit hard. I was overwhelmed with the circumstances that I have, combined my reflections with disappointments and discouragement for 2017 that surfaced on the very eve of Christmas to days that followed was filled with emotional pain.

I had an overwhelming number of family challenges going through back home, along with thoughts and reflections of shortcomings, failures and discouragements both personal and in ministry. All were overwhelming at the same time. I didn’t know how I would celebrate Christmas at that time, at a very special time to be with family. All I wanted was to be alone. Though my closest friend would invite, the grief within was overwhelming I deeply wanted to be alone.

I wandered how will I ever surpass this season. I cried to God almost every day, to remove this grief and mourning in my heart and restore my joy. I prayed for God to help me to hope again and restore the joy of my salvation.

As I waited, I felt God comforting the pain I am going through by sending my friends. It was a season I felt my heart was callous from hoping and joy. Deep within a still small voice saying never give up hoping, never stop believing, and above all never stop calling to God.

A year later, as I spent time with family for the Christmas season, as I look back my heart was filled with peace, and assurance that whatever 2019 and the years will bring, I can rest in his power. As He has sustained me and my family in 2018, how much more in the years to come. Truly apart from God’s goodness and faithfulness I didn’t know I could have survived. This only inspired me to be in faith all the more. The weight of challenge hasn’t lighten up, yet God’s presence through the storm breathes life and hope everyday.

We all have crosses to carry, the weight will never be easy. But as we take it, let’s continue to fix our eyes on Jesus. The cross he carried far more outweighs the ones we have. As we enter 2019, we can continue to rely on his unfailing character.

If we are in Christ then, so are our situations. Nothing escapes in His sovereignty and power. In christ, we rest in His capacity.

Moving on & New Beginnings

New year means new beginnings. While it is wonderful to ponder and write down things that we are thankful for the previous year, it would also be great to reflect on our failures, frustrations, pains and discouragements. We need to free ourselves from all the baggages that have been weighing us down. We can do this through honest reflections and acknowledgments that will lead us to humility before God and Him freeing us from such things. This way we can truly move forward to a year filled with hope and soar high.

Start fresh, back to zero.

We should start the year free from familiarity to face new challenges. Don’t hold on to your trophies, recognitions and achievements because our past successes may not help bring us to success this year. In other words, what got you here may not necessarily get you there. Let us desire to have a heart that is excited for new mountains to conquer – now with a greater dependence on God in being successful and not only from years of experience. Sometimes we rely on our past successes more than relying on God.

Let go.

In our previous journeys, we may have encountered frustrations, disappointments, discouragements and hurts. Today, it is time to let go. Let go and let God. God, being above all these things, is everlasting and powerful. And when we start to acknowledge that God is at the center and that He is the One who orchestrates all things, we will have peace knowing that He is perfectly in control. He knows better and He knows best. As we allow Him to rule in our hearts, He will give us peace, restoration, strength, healing, new direction, and He will also fill us with a new sense of hope.

Failures do not define us.

We won’t have success all the time. Human beings are limited and bound to fail one way or another. However, failures should never define you neither give you your identity. Rather, we can take them as learning curves to help us become a better person. We only truly fail when we fail to see the beauty and the lessons these shortcomings bring us. Only God has set your value and you are always priceless before Him.

As you start the year, be in faith for greater things. And as you journal your faith goals, dare to believe big, dream big, and expect big things. Hold on to God who rules, reigns and creator of all things. Rest in His promises with expectant hearts for the object of our faith is of incomparable greatness beyond measure.

… But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead – Philippians 3:13

May you have a joyful new beginnings this year!

IDENTIFYING PASSION KILLERS

While preparing for the message for the Youth Service, my good friend and fellow campus missionary, Roel Layug shared to me about passion killers among the youth in the church. What are passion killers? These are things that rob our enthusiasm and zeal for our faith and relationship with Jesus.

  1. Ungodly relationships : Relationships that lead us away from our intimacy with God, causing us to sin and disobey God’s will. Godly relationships help us to value more our relationship with God and pushes us to honor Him and walk an ever increasing path of obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Mike (not his real name), a student, came to know Jesus at our campus ministry. Realizing what Jesus did for him, he left his ungodly relationship with his girlfriend, pursued his relationship with Jesus, and is now one of our fruitful leaders – sharing the gospel in his campus and leading fellow students to Christ.
  2. Unbelief : This comes from a heart that is not sold out to God, who He is, His ability, His promises, His unfailing Love, His forgiveness, His redemption, and His sovereignty. When challenges come, our unbelief can cause us to be overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, and insecurity. The only way to counter unbelief is to move in faith in God’s words and promises. When in doubt that God will provide, believe that everything comes from Him. When sickness strikes, believe God’s word for healing. When relationships are broken and dysfunctional, move in faith that God is able to change hearts and minds. When faced with uncertainties, hang on to God’s promises. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the word of God will last forever. Even in the midst of unbelief, God remains to be faithful and loving. Unbelief hinders us from fully receiving God’s promises and breakthroughs. The only way to counter unbelief is to hold on to God’s word, and that can happen when we commit to do our part of knowing God through the Bible, prayer and devotion, and a community of believers.
  3. Voices we listen to – Nowadays, social media, society and peers makes huge influence in our youth; they set the trends of what is in or out, what is cool and what is out-of-the-date; and most of the time, these are the voices our youth listens to. First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character”. It is true that whoever we listen to or who we are with most of the time, influences us, whether big or small. I’m not saying that we must not be with them, actually we must be with them, like what Paul did, but we need to filter the things that is according to God’s word and that are not – this can happen if we soak and meditate in His Word. Ultimately the only voice we need to listen is the voice of God. To hear God we need to create that quiet environment for us to hear Him speak. When we know God’s voice we easily discern other voices that are not from God. God’s voice is redemptive, regardless of our failures, shortcomings and sins. The voice of God is distinctive, it loves you but it leaves you unchanged, accepts you, affirms you, comforts you, and secures you. What matters most is the voice of God than the opinion of men.

Every time I meet with young people and hear of their challenges, I ask these questions, What is God telling you? How is your quite time and daily bible reading? What is/are God’s word regarding the matter.  As they faithfully seek God and keep the spiritual disciplines, our young people will remain passionate for God and the gospel.

I’m thankful to my fellow campus missionaries in Ortigas for sharing their insights about this topic.

HOW TO WELCOME CHALLENGES

Last January, in one of the prayer and fasting lunch services at Victory Ortigas, a random lady approached me to offer prayer, which I gladly welcomed. The first part of her prayer came this way:

“Welcome Challenges this year”

I could not recall the rest of her prayers. But it indeed struck me, because it was clear to me that God was speaking through her.
Doing ministry is not easy, It can be very overwhelming and I have honestly come to a point of pleading to God to take it away, or at least, make it a bit easier. It was a breaking point. But every time I talk with God, He constantly reminds that it is He who orchestrates everything in my life, including the overwhelming challenges in the ministry. It is He who placed me here and that He did not make a mistake in assigning me that weight for the task.
Looking back at that time of prayer with the lady, I realize how God revealed to me my response (which is fear) to the potential challenges that will come my way this year. This made me ask myself, “so how should we welcome challenges?”

Pondering on this question, here are some of the points which came to mind:

1. Recognize that all challenges that come to you are allowed by God.

· Go direct to God above who entrust this to you. Seek Him with all your heart. Ask to give you wisdom and guidance on how to handle the challenge. Recognizing that all these challenges were allowed by God, will make you see that it is also God who can deliver you out of it. Take to heart that it is God−ordained.

2. Respond with the right heart.
· How we respond to challenges matters. We can either keep on complaining or take on the challenges and thank God. As God has entrusted the challenges, He will enable you to perform it. Heart check is crucial as we respond in this journey. God is maturing our faith and relationship with Him.

3. Be courageous and strong. 
· God’s Word to Joshua, as he took on the new leadership role was “Be very strong and courageous in all your challenges.” Remembering that God is with you in every step of the way will encourage you to be strong and courageous. Do not be intimated with what will come your way, for the Lord your God is with you.

   4. Be excited for what God will teach you through your challenges. 
· Keep in mind that this faith journey comes with amazing learnings and revelations, no matter how difficult and impossible it may be. One of the benefits of facing challenges is breaking of wrong mindsets. Most of the time I find myself limiting an unlimited God, then I repent and realize how God is expanding my faith.

We are just in the first quarter of 2017 and I find myself delightfully excited to what comes my way. Do not close doors yet for challenges, for God is mighty in your life and He will deliver you through it.

Gratefully offended daily

Offense is one of  life’s inescapable reality, whether  we like it or not it will come our way. We all had our taste of offense whether we may be the cause or the receiving end. But how can I be grateful when the offense happens daily? How do you handle it? or take it?

As I was reading and reflecting on the lines of Isaiah 59:22

“but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

These lines speaks so powerfully of what separates me from my creator, SIN, that causes me to be independent from God. This reminded me that deep in my core, I am truly a sinner and nothing of it deserves God’s goodness and grace. That, by faith alone in Jesus and His finish work, we can only be save and nothing else. That we can have rich and have satisfying life. That forgiveness is made available and true freedom can be attained at the cross. That is the gospel!

Daily, I need to seek God, pray and read the bible and remind myself that only Jesus can save me, nor ultimately satisfy and give me fulfilment. My good works have no value, but only the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. My great representative in fulfilling the law that I can never fulfill. This is where the daily offense happen.

The truth is the gospel is offensive because..

  1.  It tells us we are not capable of saving ourselves.
  2.  It tells us that we need a Savior, more capable and powerful than us.
  3.  It tells us that we are foolish like a sheep that needs a shepherd.
  4.  It tell us that on our own, we will never amount to anything.
  5.  It tells us that human intellect is limited.

and a lot more reasons to be offended.

And yet I chose to embrace all this everyday. The truth is God’s truth is offensive. Our response is either humility and embrace Jesus in our life or be led away by pride, independence and arrogance.

God’s truth is offensive yet worth embracing and worth rejoicing. We will never know how wonderful the good news is unless we fully understand how really awful the bad news is. We need a Savior in the name of Jesus Christ.

For that I am truly grateful to the core. And I don’t know with you, with what you choose. But I pray that you may consider the truth and respond in humility, acknowledging that salvation, freedom and joy can only come from Jesus Christ.

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.” – Tim Keller

 

Changed life| Christiane Bulawan

“I thought I was doing the right thing. I found joy and fulfilment in having same sex relationship and immorality. I didn’t care what people would say. I was happy with myself and my choices even if I was being bullied and being taken advantage of.  All I cared was finding love and being loved specially by handsome good looking men.

But then the love and care that I was looking for was not enough. There was deep loneliness and emptiness that I could not explain. I thought I was living the life as it should be then I found myself in search for the real meaning and purpose of my being.

I rejected the idea of  attending Youth Service in Victory Ortigas where I was invited. I came once and thought I already knew God and that was enough. I was constantly being invited and I would always make my academic busyness as an excuse.

After a year, I invited myself and showed up in the Youth Service. While I was standing up during the worship time I felt the presence of the Lord for the first time. I felt complete, cared and forgiven. After the service, a campus missionary approached me and connected me to a Victory Group and to a person who led me to grow more in my relationship with God. I did not hesitate, for deep within I wanted a change in my life.

It was during the one 2 one discipleship I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. My  desires for flesh was still there and so were my struggles. As I continued my journey for my personal relationship with Jesus, slowly I found myself turning away from my old ways and God gave me new desires in my heart that honor Him.  

Cristiane in the middle after his water baptism.

 I finally found the love that I was looking for. Truly, only God can satisfy the deepest desires of my heart and I am grateful that He replaced those ungodly desires and continues to replace it with what pleases Him. His love is so compelling that I started to share the Gospel to my schoolmates and even to those who bullied me.  The same Gospel that transformed me is the same Gospel that I am sharing to them; the message that brings salvation, hope and forgiveness that can be found in Jesus Christ. Indeed, the change has come in my life and it can happen to anyone!”

– Christiane Bulawan; changed by the love of Christ!

Christiane is now one of our Youth leaders in Arellano University – Pasig. Recently, he made a post on facebook status.
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“I don’t want to be called ‘sis’, ‘gay’ or  ‘bhesty’. Because that is not the identity God gave me. I want to be called ‘bro’ or by my real name. The old has gone, the new has come.” – Cristiane Bulawan

Mobile Apps | Youth Leader Starter Pack

As our Youth leaders’ are excited to go back to school, they are also excited to have their allowance back. But at the same time they are also excited to fulfill the Great Commission. What is the most basic app that would help them in their mission of changing the campus and changing the world?

1. The God Test 

Because evangelism is a lifestyle, doing the God test is a great tool to help you engage your schoolmates. Start the conversation about God and join the global survey. The God Test App is both available for android and IOS users.

The God Test App

If you want to know how to do the God test, you can visit http://www.thegodtest.org, which has video guide on how to use it or you may approach your Every Nation Campus coach.

 
2. One 2 one Discipleship App

This app is designed to help you walk in faith those made the decision to accept Jesus as Lord and saviour.

one2one

Helpful features:

  1. 121 Discipleship Journey tracker ( helpful in tracker which chapter you last shared to your classmate.
  2. Different 121 Language versions (includes English, Tagalog, and other foreign languages).

 

3. Bible app

Never go without this app, although you may be using the printed version when at home, this apps comes handy and on the go. Sometimes we are on the morning rush and don’t the time to read and reflect upon waking up, whether you are on the jeep or bus. You can still have the time to savour God’s words on the go.

There are so many app versions out there, I am using YOU version and bible.is. Both provides an option for audio, as the bible say’s faith comes from hearing the message.

 

4. Dictionary

This app is helpful not just in our academics, but even in understanding God’s word. As leaders we value understanding and clearly defined words.

dictionary

 

5. Podcast

Victory App provides you podcast from your Victory Pastor preaching and sermon base materials. If ever you miss the preaching or want  to hear other preachers. This app is both available in android and IOS mobile phones.

victory app

Another app on IOS is the podcast.

podcast

 

Relationships | Why dispose? 

On my previous blog, I wrote about relationships and how they aren’t disposable.  I shared about how my friends and I overcame the challenges and how to stand firm in saying “no” to disposable relationships. These are the friends I found in church who are truly for keeps. They have been a blessing and indeed, as described in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  That is why I truly value them. 

Now, let’s talk about the people who we allow to influence us . Among the key relationships within our circles, Identify among them who you need to move to your outer circle of influence or totally disconnect with, due to it’s unhealthy influence in us. The Bible warns us about that in 1 corinthians 15:33, It says;

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Let me share with you other versions to help us better understand it.

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Spot on these quote…

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People who we choose  as friends are the people who we allow to have influence in our lives. The bible says in Proverbs 12:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

We need friends that point us back to God in whatever situations, Who are  honest and sincere to point out our shortcoming, mistake and sin and walk with us in our faith and vision in in life. However we do not completely dispose those who we feel that brings us aways from God’s purpose,but leave enough space to keep the line open for us to share the gospel and minister to, and even have them in our prayers.

Here are a few questions to ponder on our current relationship that we allow to influence us most?

  1.  Are my friends empowering me to live a Godly life?
  2. Are my friends pushing me to go deeper in my intimacy with God?
  3. Are my friends building up my character and faith in God?
  4. Are my friends tolerating me in my worldly and ungodly ways?
  5. Do they speak the truth? and choose not to please me?

We need Godly men and women in our lives, that will help us grow deeper in our faith and relationship with Jesus. People whom we keep close to our hearts that remind of faith, vision and direction in life. People who stand along with us in our journeys and battles.