A Survey of my Faith Journey

September 2000

I was in high school and wasn’t really the type who’d be interested with anything related to church.  I’m not a product of Sunday school; not even a bible reader.  I went to the local parish on my birthdays and attended mass when the school required me to do so.  There was nothing special, to be honest. I only approached God like an “ATM” or a “wishing well” during exams or when personal issues came up.  I quickly did the “sign of the cross” for three consecutive times before I started a basketball game or when about to take shots on the free-throw line, and… that was it.  In a nutshell, I remembered God when something’s needed or when I’m already at my wit’s end.  In my mind, I knew that God was good and loving, yet deep within me, I perceived Him as somebody distant and incapable of having an intimate relationship with a person like myself.

However, on one rainy September evening, my big brother started seriously talking to me about spiritual matters.  He was a regular attendee of GCF Ortigas then.  I respected my brother, so I just listened to what he had to say. After a few more minutes, he opened his huge blue bible and shared the Gospel to me.

During that time, I recognized this inexplicable void in my heart.  I just felt so empty.  Was it because I didn’t grow up with my father (who passed away when I was three)?  Did I just want to be sure that I’d go to heaven when I die? Was it because we were not financially stable (my mom was a homemaker with four young children)?  Was I just lonely?  I really don’t know what factors were playing in my mind and heart, but what was clear was that I’m a sinner in dire need of a Savior.  “I need You, Lord”, was all that my heart could say.

God perfectly knew that my good works would never satisfy His standards, so He reached towards me instead, by sending His only begotten Son – Jesus Christ.

That was day one, and my life was never the same again.

 

December 2007

Years flashed fast.  While I was in clinical training as a Speech Pathology intern, I was still actively involved with my growth group, in discipleship, and in the youth worship team.  I thought, “Well, I guess I’m doing just fine.”

On the eve of a coming year, I fervently contemplated about my faith journey and sought what God’s desire is for my life.  As I prayed and prayed, I found myself crying alone in our living room because that was the time I sensed His call for me to go into full-time pastoral ministry.

I sought my family’s counsel and likewise shared my heart to some people in the church, asking them to pray with me.  These people wisely advised that I take time to seriously pray about it, to “test the waters”, and to discern if I’m simply deciding out of impulse.  Besides, I was three to four months away from graduation! Even if it was a tough crossroad, I listened and obeyed.

I worked for the next four years as a Speech-Language Pathologist.  I worked as a consultant, attempted to start my own clinic, bought stuff I couldn’t afford before, frequently gave my disciples treats, et cetera!  Things were going generally well.

But the Lord, I believe, had a different agenda.

 

June 15, 2012

“Are you really doing what you should be doing?” a question I often struggled with. Since 2007, this has been God’s nudge during my December retreats.

Gradually, those gentle nudges turned into bouts with waiting and painful shaking.  I became restless, to the point of having sleepless nights.  God shook me to my core – breaking my pride and self-sufficiency.  As I cried to the Lord, He frequently led me to dwell in these three very powerful Scripture passages.

18 And Jesus came and said to them,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

6 …whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:6)

2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men   who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)

With the help, prayers, and counsel of godly family and friends, I came up with the decision to resign from my job effective May 15.  Exactly a month after that, the 15th of June 2012, what I’ve started to inquire of God four and a half years ago turned into a reality.  It’s time to pursue what He’s called me to do.

By the Lord’s grace, I am now serving as a pastor (in-training).  I acknowledge that this is a “god-sized” task, and I firmly believe that tasks like this can only be done by a ginormous God – our God revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.  All I have to do is to delight in Him, embrace His Word, and keep in step with Him.

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How about you? What’s your story like?

I encourage you to chronicle how God moved in the past and how He works in the details of your life today. And, be simply amazed.

Lesson(s) Learned, 2011 Ed.

The holiday fever’s still on! And ironically, I also had a bout with fever (literally), plus nasty hyperacidity attacks this past week. It was supposed to be a time for vacation, a much-needed time for relaxation; but things didn’t really go as planned. It was only until today that I got to quietly sit down and relax. (Thank You, Lord, for healing me!)

Now, where do I start? It has been almost two weeks since I last wrote a blog and I think I’m starting to grope for words already. I guess I got totally “drained” after being sick for a couple of days. (Boo!)

On a different note, earlier this evening, I was having quite a serious talk with the Lord during my “quiet time”. It was refreshing to end this day filled with so much reminders from His Word. Just this week, I have had several “amen and ouch” moments — being rebuked, corrected, and led again to walk in His ways.  On top of what I’ve been learning, what encourages me most is how the Lord urges me to persevere in my circumstances, and to always hold fast to the Gospel and His promises. (If you like, you can check 2 Peter. Reading three chapters tonight won’t hurt, right?)

Afterwards, thoughts rushed in as to how my life changed this 2011. Overwhelming.

I must be honest, this year has been a whole lot better. (Way better!) No kidding nor exaggeration. To clarify my point, the situation, in itself, have hardly changed. I still have a lot of things to settle. The work opportunity abroad is still pending.  I don’t have a brand new car. I live within my means.  On a human/earthly perspective, there’s nothing really fancy about my circumstances now.  What really changed this year was my heart — my attitude towards my life situations.

So now, let me just outline or highlight for you 10 life lessons I have learned (and still learning) to embrace.  They are written in no particular order, by the way.  Like I’d always say in my previous writings, accept what’s good and just ignore what’s not beneficial for you. Besides, these are just my two cents.

Mike’s Life Lessons for 2011:

  1. I’ve learned to focus on the things that really matter.  I cannot afford to stretch myself to the point of breaking, and end up ineffective. I need to learn to say “no”, when necessary.
  2. I need to focus on a few people whom I can mentor. What I wish I could do for everyone, I need to do for a select few because I am ultimately not the Lord. In the long run, quality will beget quantity.
  3. Handling one’s finances is a spiritual matter. I am a steward of God’s earthly riches, therefore, how I use what He basically lent me at the very beginning is part of my personal worship.
  4. Everybody has the potential to change and become better. Whosoever is without sin, let that person cast the first stone.
  5. My job is my ministry. They are not mutually exclusive.
  6. Our weaknesses can be used for God’s glory. I’m not a born writer, yet I strive to blog to somehow reach the hearts of people. I never imagined myself preaching, but now, I preach whenever an opportunity is given. I could never really put in a box, as to what God can do in and through you.
  7. Just as my job is my ministry, my family is also my ministry. Who we are at home could be a very strong testimony to others.
  8. What we own/have, and what we have achieved, do not define our character.
  9. When situations seem to go wrong despite choosing to follow Christ, press on nevertheless. Remain steadfast, teachable and humble. Compromising should never be an option.
  10. Waiting on the Lord is essential for growth. In fact, I can consider it a spiritual discipline. Running ahead of Him is merely futile.