Living in a Chaotic World, Facing the “Giant” in Your Life

In the Bible, King David, Apostle Paul, Peter, James, Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Timothy, Barnabas …… are the cloud of witnesses who showed us how they face the “giants” in their lives.

Giants, let us think about that for a moment. Giant represents something colossal. It is what oftentimes appears to be so enormous in front of us that we could not move forward in our lives. How do we overcome it?

We live in a society that everything seems enormous nowadays. From dealing with the responsibilities within the circle in our families, our jobs, our neighbors, and even in our church community. We feel that all things around us are pulling us away from our own time. We never really have the chance to just sit down and watch it from the outside. It seems that we constantly find ourselves inside this ball of the day-to-day conundrum of life.

In our Life Group, we were asked this question “how do you live in a chaotic world as a child of God?” I had to pause on this question and evaluate how do I overcome and face these “giants” in my life?

During my younger years, it was a struggle to have that self-discipline in my nature. The level of my maturity could not handle the constant changes and revolving duties that life demands.

Through spiritual growth and maturity, I began to find my strength by practicing and staying mindful of these virtues:

Humility – accepting the circumstances in my life knowing that I cannot do everything on my own. That I will need to present my worries to God and trust Him (Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”) That I will need the support of my family and my church community to pray with me to overcome my struggle (Romans 12:5 “so in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others.”).

Prayer – reviving my relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer (Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”). Setting a time to meet with God every day praising Him and thanking Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.). Lastly, praying for others for healing (James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”).

Forgiveness – I ask God to release me from the bondage of pain and bitterness that others inflicted upon me, I pray to forgive me from my iniquities, and to teach me to forgive myself and accept that I am not perfect. (Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”)

Selfless Love – It is easy to think of what is good for us and satisfy ourselves with what we want but we find it difficult to open ourselves to others even to those who are in our inner circles because we normally set boundaries on how much time we want to extend ourselves to others caused by the busyness of our lives. But God’s Agape love is selfless. (1 John 4:16-21 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”)  

Finally, Patience – this is the most difficult to practice when you are short-tempered, always aiming for immediate results. and lack of understanding of the importance of waiting. There must be over 100 verses in the Bible that tell us to wait on the Lord. Why do you think there are so many? God is wise and He obviously, knows that our human heart always lacks the patience that He desires for us. Throughout the Bible, we see people creating their little gods because they could not wait, the sense of self-gratification is one of the sins of mankind. So, let me leave you with this simple and inspiring verse and know that God encourages us to endure and wait on Him (Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”).

© fm1 6.16.21

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

“Praise Be To The Most High, For He is Good!”

Waiting on you, Lord!

~ Lamentations 3:25-26 ~

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. ”

We have two members in our Life Group who are still suffering from cancer. Our group has been stricken with cancer one by one. It started in 2018 when the first one in our group was diagnosed with lung cancer when he felt a lump on his back, in 2019 the other one (a cardiologist) was diagnosed with kidney cancer, in 2020 March I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the same year in May, my best friend of 22 years collapsed one day on the floor and was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery on the same month.

We are thirteen in our group, the largest Life Group in our church from the time it was formed in 2014.  We shared a lot of ministries, activities, and personal testimonies throughout the seven years.  We take care of one another in prayer and inspired each other in our spiritual growth.

When one by one we began to be stricken with the deadly disease, one lady from our group asked, “what is happening to our group?” No one can comprehend “why us?” I must admit, in solitude, I struggled with the same question.  And despite the fact we strived with that question and found ourselves in disbelief, we continued with our walk-in Christ and persevered.

During the pandemic last year, we decided to continue to meet every Friday night via Zoom to praise God, to pray for one another and we kept vigilant.  In despair, we found the opportunity to praise God.

We continue to meet weekly to share stories of our medical treatments and update one another on our MRI, CT scans, and blood test results. We share Worship music from our favorite Christian Artists from YouTube, share jokes, share our family struggles – our highs and lows. Our Friday Zoom evenings gave us strength and hope. This became our life together.

This year two of us were given the good news of being “cancer-free” and the other two are still undergoing treatment but are stable.  Every day we pray that God will continue to perform His miracles on our two brothers in Christ to restore their health and to extend their lives just as He added fifteen years in Hezekiah’s life (2Kings 20:1-6).

I believe in God’s miracles. I believe in His mercy and love. I believe that He is the healer of all healers. I also believe that even we if lose our life in this world if we have Him and believe that Christ is our Savior that we will celebrate everlasting life with Him one day.

Hope is anticipating that something good will happen. Faith is believing that we already have the “Grace” in our life even if it seems impossible.

© fm1 6.11.21

“Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessing of life. Encourage us oh Lord so that we may always find the strength to endure in times of adversity. May we always use the challenges that come our way as our opportunity to praise and give you thanks for the many blessings you provide us. Even when we find it difficult to understand why unpleasant things happen in our lives, please help us to cope and remain faithful to thee. To learn how to wait on you. Just as your beloved son Jesus carried the cross of our sins, please help our simple minds recognize that amid the storm, you are here with us carrying us through. Thank you, Father God, and in Jesus’s name I pray – Amen.”

Our Documentary…

I was watching this two-hour documentary of one of my favorite film directors over the weekend.

I always find it interesting when people are asked to say something about the person. How they describe their experiences working with the person, living with them, or who they are as an individual, and how they perceive stories that they hear about them.

What interesting stories do you think people would say about you?  I am sure that there will be people who will share their life experiences and will mention some funny, dramatic stories, and even intimate details about you depending on their experiences with you. There will be some fragments of truth in their stores or exaggerated details base on their perspective.

I wonder how many people truly know me. I wonder how much accuracy the stories they would tell.  The truth is – no matter how people think they know you or how much transparency they think they have seen, there is always something that is locked in your life that is sacred. 

I have always said, at the end of the day – it is between me and God.  For He knows who I am even before I was born. He knows my life story, my secrets, my joy, my pain. He knew which path I would take in this life.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” ~ Luke 12:7

That, I would fail many times, and many times He will need to rescue me and reroute me to His path. Just like a little child, I will need a constant reminder to trust Him.

I have imagined myself in front of the Triune God and would hear Him say how I did in my life with the living. His words and His description of who I am will be concise from the time I was born through the end of my life.  Scary? Definitely!  Do I still have time to prepare? Absolutely! In 2 Peter 3:1-18, Apostle Peter wrote that there is time for all of us to rewrite our paths in accordance with the Law of God.  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Peter+3%3A1-18&version=NIV

That time is now (Matt 25:13).

“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  Matthew 25:13

The truth is, only one thing that truly matters that I hope to hear….

 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

~Matthew 25:21

© fm 5.13.21

“Lord, you have known me all my life, even before I was conceived. You made me through your image and likeness and love me all my life. Even those times that I have forgotten you, you stayed with me and did not let me go.  What an amazing God you are! You are still here after all these years. You have held my hand from the time I was born and still holding my hand like a good shepherd never wanting any of your sheep to go astray.  Heavenly Father, I consecrate my life to you. Thank you for the life you have given me – the blessings of family, friends, job, and most importantly – the opportunity to serve others when they needed it most. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.”

Wisdom

Have you thought about why we depend on our intelligence and not the Wisdom that comes from above? Why we cling on to our selfish pride when there is an easy way to just dial in to connect with God?

Often, we stay with our old habits and rely on our skills. We think if we can only master and learn to navigate through life everything will be smooth sailing. We network with people who we think would bring us to success, we read all these self-help books to boost our confidence and we keep ourselves busy to heighten our self-importance.  We are all guilty of this one way or another. 

We mistakenly think that solitude is a bad thing. We enjoy the constant noise around us. We feel that if we are not a part of what is out there that we do not exist. That we do not belong, and our solitude turns into isolation which turns to depression.  We forget that sometimes solitude can be a gift. A time for us to dial in to connect with God. 

I used to enjoy doing all these Conference Planning in my previous job. I hate to admit it, but I enjoyed the stress and the busyness. In my arrogance, I felt so important and needed all the time.  I used to think that people around me cannot function without me. I know that I had the skillsets that very few people have.  At one point, I was on top of my game. Have you experienced that? Have you felt so “cool” that you know that the show will not go on without your expertise?

It is great to feel needed, don’t you? It feeds into our ego. We feel so in control of everything around us. But are we?

In 2020, the pandemic brought us all into realization. It came to us so unexpected, it left us all bewildered – what was happening we asked? For a moment not just one person but all mankind was forced to stop when locked down was reinforced. I saw a video on YouTube showing popular tourist cities’ streets deserted – nothing is open, and no one is around.

Some people took this event as isolation that turned into depression. Some people started reassessing their lives, their priorities and even got the chance to look inside themselves and truly see who they are (I was one of them). What they want to change and how they will move forward in life.  Wow! It is amazing how one event can change us – can change our lives.  As we see events unfolding on news and in social media, we witnessed where people found their escape – here you can fill in the blanks.

I am blessed to be surrounded by good people in my life.  I found my escape by reading A.W. Tozer, Dallas Willard, C.S. Lewis, and The Bible (my personal favorite is Proverbs).  I am even fortunate to work in an environment that focuses on helping the Elderly. The pandemic taught me to set aside my arrogance, it gave me a perspective that we cannot plan everything in life because in a blink of an eye – life can change. I learned to love and put God first in my life. That each morning that I wake up is a blessing.  That I am completely nothing without Him.  At the end of the day, I thanked Him that He was with me helping me with my choices, with my work, and knowing that every skill and every wisdom that I have comes from Him. 

Do you know the definition of intelligence? “It is the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding.” 

What about Wisdom?  “It is the knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment, or insights.”

And do you know that you can be intelligent and lack wisdom? For Wisdom only comes from God and from Him alone.

©fm4.23.21

Proverbs 2:1-22 ~

My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you.

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
    from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways,
 who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
whose paths are crooked
    and who are devious in their ways.

Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
    from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
who has left the partner of her youth
    and ignored the covenant she made before God.
Surely her house leads down to death
    and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
None who go to her return
    or attain the paths of life.

Thus, you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
For the upright will live in the land,
    and the blameless will remain in it;
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

Search our Hearts Oh Lord!

Heavenly Father, we ask for your forgiveness to all our iniquities. Help us to rely on your provisions with patience and humility. Guide us in our thoughts, our desires, our words, and in our deeds so that everything that flows out from us brings glory and honor to Your name.  

May the Holy Spirit grant us the wisdom to guide us so we shall not put judgment on others but to bring God’s Agape love to whom we meet even to those who inflict pain in our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  ~ Philippians 4:6-7

“There is freedom to choose which side we shall be on but no freedom to negotiate the results of the choice once it is made. By the mercy of God, we may repent a wrong choice and alter the consequences by making a new and right choice. Beyond that we cannot go.” ~ A.W. Tozer

He is Risen!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” ~ 1 Peter 1:1-5

“He promised there will be a new Heaven and Earth”

“Resurrection Life is permanent”

“Salvation is a gift. It is black and white…are you in or out?”

“Tend with your friendship in Christ”

~ Pastor Seth McCoy, Church of Emmanuel

As we forgive those who hurt us…

Abba Father, creator of heaven and earth, enrich our capacity to forgive others, and strengthen us to overcome life’s daily challenges. Help us Oh Lord, to extend our patience when we are surrounded with injustices and bitterness. May You be in the center of our lives to bring us peace and calm our spirits in times of adversities and turmoil.  In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.

Psalm 11

In the Lord I take refuge.
    How then can you say to me:
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
    they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
    at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
    his eyes examine them.
The Lord examines the righteous,
    but the wicked, those who love violence,
    he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain
    fiery coals and burning sulfur;
    a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the Lord is righteous,
    he loves justice;
    the upright will see his face.

© fm 3.29.21

Palm Sunday

There is something about short films that catches your full attention. Aside from the fact that they are condensed and does not require a lot of your time compared to watching a full-length movie where there is a lot of twist and turns or highs and lows of the story. Despite this, I find that watching a short film brings more in-depth meaning because it touches all your sensitivity, and more often at the end of the story it leaves you with a provoking thought.  You start creating scenarios that could have happened.  It allows you to expand the story in your imagination and create your ending. It is like adding your twist of segments because it lingers in your thoughts.

What also strikes me is how they show these picturesque images. Like when they pan in and show someone sitting on the bench at the park, as if this person is waiting for something or someone, or perhaps just in deep thought.  In the next scene, they pan out reflecting the sunlight, the breeze on a wide-open space featuring tall green grasses.

With all of these, there is this background music that makes you reflect and wonder what the person is contemplating. You need to visualize the person’s thoughts through the non-verbal movement. Then, when they pan in on their face – you see the full expression of their emotions, then you can tell what is going through their minds.

In our lives, we go through this non-verbal whirlwind of emotions. People often see what we want them to see.  We act in a certain way and generate this persona and have this shield to avoid allowing others to see what is truly happening in our lives. Whether we are protecting ourselves or protecting others to see through us. 

The amazing thing about our Father in Heaven, we do not need to speak and yet He is aware of what we are going through. He fully understands our non-verbal emotions.  In our solitude, God speaks to us. He sees our pain, our joy, our fears, our accomplishments, what we need, and what we even think.  He even allows us to create our ending because of the free will He gave us as His gift.

God knows we are limited creatures. He does not expect too much – just our love and dedication. That is why He gave us His only beloved Son – Jesus Christ. Jesus helps us understand His Father’s will.  Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us.

In short films, it conveys a clear message of the story.  You see thru the reflection of each character what they are experiencing.  No matter how vague and limited the words spoken, you always understand what the writer wants to communicate.

When we read the Bible, where God is the main writer, His message is absolute and flawless. The Scripture is God’s Word.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-18

God is the writer of everything, and He is consistent throughout from the beginning of creation.  Each character in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation conveyed His message with distinct clarity.

In the present, we may not hear His voice speaking but we hear His words in our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.  He surrounded us with the beauty of His creation that we may see every minute of His wonder and He has put people in our lives to recognize His existence – our family, our community, our friends, our church.  He knows exactly what we need for our daily survival.

“He even knows what tomorrow will be for us. Because God is the God of today and tomorrow as well as yesterday.” ~ A.W. Tozer

As the 30-minute short film reaches its ending, we are left with a provoking thought. And whether it has provided us a moral lesson or not.  The images remain in the recesses of our memory.

When Jesus suffered in the hands of His enemies and was sentenced to death, this image of the scourging at the pillar, carrying of the cross, and the crucifixion portrayed many times in films and even as you read it repeatedly in the Bible left thought-provoking images in the millions of minds and hearts of everyone, Christians, and non-Christians alike. That up to this day, we, who has never even witnessed the experience still feels the pain and the loving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” ~John 19:30

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Holy Week. It is the time we reflect on those images of Christ suffering and surrendering His life for our salvation. His death and resurrection opened the gateway for us and bridge the gap between us and with the Almighty Father.

What an ultimate reflection of God’s love for mankind.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

original sketch by Eric W. Pracht

©fm 3.28.21