Monday, February 4, 2013

Take heart

I was listening to a song by Elevation Worship called "Give Me Faith" which has these words:

I need You to soften my heart
And break me apart.
I need You to open my eyes
To see that You're shaping my life.

Such powerful words and speaks so much truth about how our God can restore us when we feel so hurt or broken.

This song takes me back to 12 years ago when God started to put me back together again.

In my early 20's, I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Something I'm sure my parents were not proud of (as a parent myself, I would know how they would have felt)...or maybe they didn't know because I was here in Australia whilst they were back in Manila, Philippines. 
It got SO bad that I started selling drugs so that I could buy it at a discounted rate and make money at the same time. But what I didn't realize at that time was that it was destroying my life. I lost all my friends, lost contact with my family, and I was so thin I looked sick all the time. 

I was beaten, shattered to a thousand pieces, and I felt like I couldn't live my life anymore. I wanted to end it.

Debt collectors were chasing me, my work kept calling me wondering where I was (I just stopped turning up to work), and I couldn't afford to pay rent, my bills, and food. So I took the plug off my home phone to avoid people, locked the doors of my apartment, closed all the windows & locked myself in for 2 weeks, with no source of food except for what was left in my fridge; which wasn't much.

I started arguing with God one night. It was very dark as my electricity was cut off, I remember sitting in one corner of the house, no hope, no future, frail, lost, confused, ANGRY. I was shattered. Broken. Beaten. I cried to God that night for the 1st time of my life. At first I was angry and blamed Him for everything. "Is this it?! Is this THE life that you have given me?!"

My anger turned to confusion...then sorrow. So I asked for His help to get me out of this mess. "Jesus, if You are there, please help me; save me!"

The next day when I woke up, I plugged my home phone in and it rang, after 2 weeks of being offline. To my surprise, it was Juanita (my wife). She was checking up on me & was worried. That's when I picked up the bible for the first time which led me to John 3:16. I knew that God sent me an angel and this was my 1st step to healing.

Just because you are broken, it doesn't mean you can't be fixed. Sometimes we need to be broken from our old ways so that God can slowly put the pieces of our puzzle together...the right way. His way. The way that it is meant to be.

Joyce Meyer was sexually abused by her dad when she was young. Jeremy Camp lost his wife from cancer a few days after they got married. Bo Sanchez was abused when he was young. They are ordinary people who lived a hurtful life and now live an extraordinary life serving God. They used their painful experiences not to blame God but to inspire others to love God. They are perfect examples of how God can turn our lives around, and how He can use us to lead and inspire others.

If you are going through some brokenness, take heart! Don't give up. Focus on Jesus and I promise you that He will take you out of your darkness.

And it gets better - If you commit to Him and follow his lead, He will bless you with all the joys of this world. All you have to do is ask.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I want to be cool

I have always wanted an iPhone ever since 4 year ago (2009).  Early that year it seemed that all of my friends had one, which they admired. I mean, why wouldn’t you want one? With this gadget, you can call, text, check emails, go on facebook and twitter, check your bank account, play games, listen to music, and download some cool apps that would change my life – the perfect phone! Plus the fact that having an iPhone would make me look 1,000 times cooler. Later that year on my birthday, I decided to give myself a gift…yes a brand new iPhone 4. This was the latest thing! All my friends had either the iPhone 3 or 3S. I would be the coolest cat in the block! I was able to download my favorite music on the spot, play cool games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja whilst waiting on the train to work, check my emails on the go and reply straight away, post stuff on facebook and share things to people anytime I wanted to; I was on this thing for most of the day, it was great!

After months of giving it my full attention, it hit me like a ton of bricks; I realized that it’s really not that great. That it was an artificial happiness. That it was compromising the one thing that mattered the most, my family time.

I remember my wife kept telling me (felt like nagging, but don’t tell her that) “You spend too much time on that thing, its not good. You have to spend more time with us”. And I remember always replying with “But I just need to send this email, or send this text, or post this on facebook”, or even to a point of desperation I say “But this is cool, I can download some games for the kids to play”.

You see my friends; this is what happens when we get obsessed with the things of this world. We make excuses. In the bible it says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world” (Rom 12:2, NIV). The world will always tell us that this product is great, that you need this, that without this you will suffer, that this shiny thing is the best thing in the world, that this will make you really pretty and popular, that you will not be cool without it. In Colossians 3:2 it tells us to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

It reminds me of the movie, The Matrix. When Neo chose to learn more about what the Matrix truly is. It is an artificial world created by robots where humans are used as slaves. When I was young, I was naïve. The older I get, the more I realize that what this world has to offer is not what I truly want. Yes I did upgrade to a newer iPhone 5 recently, but it is really nothing special but a toy created by men who do a great job in making other people realize that they need to buy it. The difference nowadays is that I am aware of this fact and that I have stopped making excuses to my wife about why I need it. The fact of the matter is, I don’t need it. I am not a slave to it anymore. I focus more on God’s promise: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33, ESV).

Focus Question:
Are you living by the standards of this world? Or by God’s standards?

You are awesome!

Let me be the first to admit that when I was young, I was a trouble-maker.
I was the black sheep of the family, the middle child, the irresponsible one.
My family migrated to Brisbane, Australia in 1991. I was 13, going on 14 that year. 
It was hard for me, going into a new country and feeling that I had to go back to square 1. New friends. New home. New school. New lifestyle.
During my time in primary school, particularly towards the end of primary school (grades 5 to 7), I was bullied. Most probably because of my appearance.
I was short, fat, and wore glasses...the 3 worst things you can have in an all-boys exclusive private school in Manila. 
But when we moved to Australia, I decided to be a new "me", leave my old "me" behind and start afresh.
I started to play basketball which resulted in hanging out with the "cool group" throughout high school in Brisbane.
This meant doing the wrong things and being in trouble by the teachers. 
But I didn't care, I was at the top of my game and felt that I was invincible.
But when there is a high, there will definitely be a low. 
One of the lowest part of my high school life and one that I will never forget is during year 12 when the guidance counselor of our school told me that I had no future. 
That I wasn't going to make it in life. 
OUCH! What was that now?! You are a guidance counselor, right??? 

Friends, I will share to you something SO IMPORTANT. Something that no-one has ever told me while growing up.
And if someone did, maybe (just maybe) I would've been a better person alot sooner. 
Are you ready for this?

You are a child of THE KING!
You were created in God's image!
You are destined to do GREAT THINGS!
Don't EVER doubt yourself.

Philppians 4:13 says that I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.

Do me a favour. I want you to write this verse down on large font on a piece of paper and stick in on your bedroom wall.
Let it be one of the 1st things that you see when you wake up.
Say it out loud if you can, repeatedly.
Let it be your prayer everyday for the rest of your life.

People will try to break you, they will try to tell you that you are not good enough.
They will try to hurt you and take you to their place where they are in pain and suffering. 
This is life. I'm just being honest. 
I used to get angry and retaliate. I used to feel so unworthy and broken. I used to come home grumpy and take it out on my wife and kids.
Let me tell you now that this is not what God has intended for us to be, 
He wants nothing more than to give us all the joys of this world. But the devil on the other hand would love to see us suffer.
I have learnt to say "NO" to the devil and push him away. I do this by always seeking Jesus whenever I find myself in a negative situation.
I have learnt to say a simple prayer and just say His name "Jesus" many times. 

My prayer to you is that you will realise how important you are to God. 
That you will go forth in this world knowing that you are a child of God and that you can do all things through Christ! Amen!