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.

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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.

LIFE Classes & Groups

One of our ways of reaching the campus is imparting values of Leadership, Integrity, faith and excellence among the students through what we call LIFE Classes. This month we are so privilege to partner with the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management of Arellano University Pasig. After each topic the students group themselves with the coaches to help them process the topic and how they can apply in their lives.