Take it from the Psalmist ;)

I guess everybody wants to start their day right. But… the question is how?

Below, you could see how the psalmist exhorts all of us to live each day with an attitude of giving thanks to the Lord.

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations”

– Psalm 100 (ESV)

Imagine when, morning by morning, we take these words to heart.

Perhaps, even if things would not always go as how we desire them to happen, we can always find reason to rejoice for.. “the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations”.

Have a joy-filled day, friends!

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Day 1: Refuge and Fortress

June 15, 2012.  Friday.

At 7:30 A.M, I left the house going towards a place, which I know would be the start of the journey I’ve began praying for since December of 2007.

It was quite a “wrestling match” with the Lord.  No audience involved. No referee.  Just me and Him.  It was never easy coming up with the decision to work not in a clinic, a hospital, or do “home health”.  This time, by God’s grace and mercy, the Lord called me to serve Him full-time in a local church as part of their pastoral staff.

Anxiety, anticipation, fear and joy – a strange concoction of such feelings crept in as I stationed myself inside my cubicle.  I honestly don’t know where to start.  Even if I’ve been in the ministry (as a volunteer) for more than eleven years now, everything just seemed different.  Everything’s new.  I was only left with one thing to do. I grabbed my bible while whispering a prayer to God, uttering words like these:

“Father, please speak to me.  Affirm me today.  I’m scared, but I know You have called me by name. I really need You.”

The passage assigned for me to meditate on that day was Psalm 91, which I want to share with you here. It’s a little long, but I enjoin you to read along and contemplate on the words of the psalmist.

My Refuge and My Fortress

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

You will only look with your eyes

and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—

the Most High, who is my refuge—

no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the adder;

the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.”

Today’s the 17th and I can already feel both the fulfillment and the tension in this phase of transition.  It’s difficult.

But no amount of fear nor difficulty could surpass the peace that the Lord gives – especially when you know that it is God who calls us.  Furthermore, we can remain confident that He shall provide us with whatever we will need to accomplish His agenda.  It may be hard to believe, but it’s true.  (Oh, what a great God we serve, right?)

My prayer for you today is that your heart would burn as you open God’s Word, just like the people at the road to Emmaus.  May God meet with you wherever you are and in whatever situation that you may be.

I pray that you would be refreshed with the truth that He alone is our refuge and our fortress, which we can always trust!

Mentored people mentor. Discipled people disciple.

This afternoon, I got to spend quality time with my mentor (or discipler) at a coffee shop in Alabang. His name’s Allan Santos, our youth and young professionals pastor at Greenhills Christian Fellowship South Metro. It was only until this September that we started meeting in a “discipleship/mentoring” setting. I have had two other mentors in the past, namely, BJ Villanueva and Don Guico. They, too, are faithful pastors. Let me clarify at this point that it was not my intention at all to look for pastors as my mentors. (Haha!) They’re God’s blessings to my life, and forever will I be grateful for these men.

I am not writing to lead you to a conclusion that I will be a pastor in the future. (Though, like I’d always say, I’m quite open to that if God wills it to happen.) I’m neither writing to narrate their faith stories, for that may take countless hours to formulate. But my desire’s to impart my joy of having a solid few to stand with me, be it in my “Golden Age” or in my darkest hour.

In having such people, I learned what transparency, accountability, and what disciple-making meant. The guys I mentioned above (plus, my other friends who have influenced me in the most profound ways) are like living epistles unfolding before my very eyes. The written Word of God becomes more real, alive when you see people take their faith into action. And, I am overwhelmed by the presence of these inspiring faith-walkers.

(I literally got goosebumps as I wrote that part. I simply am amazed by God’s work!)

Now, forgive me for suddenly taking my writing’s intensity a notch higher, but I want you to face these two facts of life.

Point A: It’s easy to brag about what we have achieved, what we own, and everything else that’s positive.

Yet, Point B: It was never easy to expose our brokenness and our rottenness.

Would you agree?

But, you see, my mentors took the extra mile to hear me out… as I am. They embraced my life’s points A and B. They were never perfect people (nor they will ever be), but they stood firmly with me no matter what. These guys prayed hard. They likewise counseled… listened… rebuked… rejoiced… provided… affirmed… challenged… laughed…. pushed…celebrated… pushed some more… corrected… and loved me regardless who I am. Regardless who I was. It did not stop there, however.

They loved me too much they just could not leave me stagnant in my life-faith journey. They helped me correct my failures and encouraged me to leverage on my strengths. Above all, my mentors intentionally pointed me back to the Cross whatever the circumstances at hand be.

Call me “cheesy.” But, truth is, I never meant to sugar-coat all these stuff. Again, I’m just here to honestly impart my joy through writing.

In one of Bill Hybels’ books, I remember him sharing that people hardly change (for the better) because of living unexamined lives. I believe that’s true. And, I believe we need mentors who can help us in the processes of examination and of being transformed in conformity to the likeness of our Maker.

I thank the Lord for I have a mentor now. In fact, my heart’s desire is that I would always have one even if I’m way beyond the retirement age. And at present, I am also mentoring a chosen few whom I pray would do the same for others. (In fact, by the Lord’s grace, some of them already are mentoring/discipling other people!)

So, let me ask you just a few more questions and throw in a couple of challenges before I end. Have you been praying for a person to mentor/disciple you? Or, have you been praying for somebody that you could be so honest with? If none, then I urge you to pray and seek one.

For those currently being mentored, I challenge you to step out in faith and begin making disciples. Seek the Lord’s direction and boldly live out His Great Commission. Maybe it’s time to pass the baton.

To be a disciple (mentee) and a disciple-maker (mentor) must be two of the most important decisions I made in my life. Never will I regret these decisions; and eternally will they remain my joy.

Carry a Smile!

I was refreshed (and given an open rebuke) by these wise words of Sir Charles Spurgeon. Truly, if one is in Christ, that person has every reason to enjoy life. And, that person has every reason to share that joy to others.

“An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker, and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living… I commend cheerfulness to all who would win souls; no levity and frothiness, but a genial happy spirit. There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar, and there will be more souls led to heaven by a man who wears heaven in his face than by one who bears Tartarus in his looks.

Sing Christian, wherever you go; try, if you can, to wash your face every morning in a bath of praise. When you go down from your chamber, never to look on men till you have first looked on your God; and when you have looked on Him, seek to come down with a face beaming with joy. Carry a smile, for you will cheer up many a way-worn pilgrim by it.”

Carry a smile today!