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!


Daniel = Uncompromising

About four days ago, I was given the privilege to preach at our youth worship service in Greenhills Christian Fellowship South Metro. As you read this, you’d perceive this entry as more of a “post-preaching” reflection of Daniel 6:1-23. If you have a bible near you, I seriously encourage you to open it to the said passages.

Don’t worry, I won’t preach here like what I did last Sunday. All I want to focus on is a particular segment of the said text, because it’s been running in my head for the past couple of days. I sensed God’s leading to write something about it.  In verse 10b of Daniel 6, it says:

He (Daniel) got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”

The context? Simply put, all the officials (except Darius) were against Daniel. In fact, an immediate injunction was signed and was announced that anyone who prays to any god or man other the king would be thrown to the den of lions! This order was effective for thirty days.  Hence, Daniel was limited to choose between two options.

A.  Live, by compromising. Besides, it will only take a month, right?

B.  Die, because of standing firm for the God he loves.

What did he choose? Despite the impending danger, he still chose letter B. Moreover, he was on his knees and prayed three times a day! Here, the modifier “previously”, in its original Hebrew text, means “from antiquity”. Meaning, it’s been a life-long habit! It’s his passion, and nothing changed despite the circumstances!

Daniel remained faithful to his daily discipline of praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  And what puzzles me further was his attitude of thankfulness even if things were not going in his favor.

I wonder, was there really something to be thankful for? Hmm… I’m not so sure. Why?

A.  All one hundred and twenty satraps (or governors) and two fellow presidents were after Daniel’s fall.

B.  He’s bound to be fed to the starving lions.

In short, he’s dead.

Yet God delivered Daniel in the most amazing way.

Oh, indeed, “…the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” (2 Ch. 16:9a)

My prayer today is that we’d all have a “Daniel-like” discipline, a “Daniel-like” faith, and a “Daniel-like” attitude of thankfulness.

May we desire for a disciplined lifestyle of prayer fueled by faith. May we have that rock-solid faith produced out of knowing, believing in, and embracing the God revealed in Scriptures. And may we put on a kind of attitude that exclaims “thank You, Lord” even if we’re at wit’s end and things don’t go the way we want them to happen.


*For your reference, here’s the link to the Scripture text I was referring to. I hope this helps, guys.

God begins. God sustains. And, God completes.

I missed writing for almost two weeks now, so I’d like to give you a clearer glimpse of what the Lord has been doing during that span of time.  I could honestly say that it was quite a tough “ride”, but all the events — when put together — could only point towards a profound truth:  what God started, He’ll sustain, and He’ll complete.

March 24, 2012. I was at Maria Montessori Foundation in Ayala Alabang when this photo was taken, and was granted the privilege to facilitate their teachers’ recollection.  These people were “non-Catholic” staff (both teaching and non-teaching) and belonged to various denominations (i.e. Baptist, Pentecostal, Iglesia ni Cristo, etc.).  When I received the invitation, I was so in doubt about my capability.  I wrestled with the thought for some time, but when God gradually broke my doubt and pride, I knew this was the Lord’s assignment for me.  The Lord was so gracious to me from the preparation process until the day I met with this wonderful set of people.

As I spoke to these guys, all I could feel was the joy of seeing them be transparent, vulnerable, and so much in need of God. Just… “WOW”! The 4- to 5-hour session that we had was just overwhelming, and I am so excited to hear more about the impact that they’re causing in the lives of the next generation (their students) and to the co-teachers they work with.

March 31, 2012. Exactly a week after my time at Maria Montessori Foundation, I got to be with the people from GCF Ortigas Youth L.I.V.E. (Living in View of Eternity) on their “Worship Project”.  Roughly 30 minutes before the event started, the team/band and I had a brief time to be still before the Lord in prayer and in meditating on God’s Word (focusing on Nehemiah 6:1-4). For some reason,we agreed that it was a season of “rebuilding” for most of us, particularly in the ministry we have been called to.  Truly, God’s Word is living and active.  It was so refreshing to spend a moment with their worship team even prior the start of the service.

(*Disclaimer: Pardon my look in this photo. Haha!)

Then, the service started by allotting more time in the reading of psalms and in personal prayer. This is needed. Well, I believe every church needs a time like this — where people would step on the “brakes” and remain still in His presence.  It’s a reminder that we have to lessen on the “church activities”, if necessary.  Instead, we should prioritize our time with the Person behind our “church activities” before we do anything else.

After that, the Lord opened an opportunity for me to preach His Word to their youth group.  We dug deep into 1 John 1:1-4 and 2:1-6, making it a solid foundation as to whowhy, and how we ought to worship God.  It really is a delight to see young people respond so passionately to God’s Word. I was awestruck!  Eventually, we ended our time together by leading to this conclusion:  People who live in view of eternity are people who live a life(-style) of worship.  Those who live a life(-style) of worship are those who walk as Jesus walked.  (cf. 1 John 2:6)

Basically, these are the things that transpired during the past couple of days.

I wish I could share in further detail what God has been teaching me in this “faith stretching” season, but my time for now is up.  I will put things into writing at the appointed time. (Hopefully soon!)

All I want to emphasize at this point is the fact that God completes what He has started in you. He’ll do whatever it takes to show His glory and to let you know that He’s after what is good for us.

Therefore, let’s take heart and let’s press on!

An Unlikely Solution

Before reading any further, I would like to lead you to chapters 18 and 19 of the book of 2 Kings. Please take some time to meditate on the said chapters, so you could have a clearer understanding of these Scripture passages’ context before we move on.


Scripture emphasis on:  2 Kings 19:15-19

Hezekiah, a man of God, faces probably his toughest challenge in his fourteenth year as king of Judah.  The Assyrians were practically everywhere, taking captive every city that they could find.  “Now, it is time for Judah to fall into our hands!” the Assyrians must have thought.

Their king sent some officials and a whole army to Hezekiah, mocking him and his people, and throwing insults at God – the very same God whom we worship today.  But Hezekiah was firm in his resolve to not answer back (2 Kings 18:36).  What was this good king planning? He didn’t have enough horsemen (v. 23)!  He was even gripped by fear and, perhaps, a lack of hope (2 Kings 19:3)! Does he still have something up his sleeve?

You would witness at this point that Hezekiah, even if he already was in the position of a king, was not exempted from all these weaknesses.  That is sure.  He was just like you and me. However, what’s amazing about him is how he responded to this particular problem.  What did he do? He inquired and poured his heart out before the Lord, in prayer (2 Kings 19:15-19).  He did not answer back to the Assyrian officials; but He chose to be in the Lord’s presence by praying in the temple.

If you think about it, prayer can be considered an unlikely and unnatural response to our circumstances.  On a typical scenario, you might rather go to your own set of friends to unload your “personal baggage”.  Others, resort to drinking alcohol or munching on food to battle depression. Prayer will most likely fall as our last option.

You might be wondering how Hezekiah’s story ended by now. Hold on, we’ll get there soon.

At the time of greatest trouble, God responded to his heart’s cry in a manner nobody expected. In 2 Kings 19:35, it says: “… it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.” Oh, what victory they had on that day!  They didn’t have to lift a finger.  Hezekiah and his people held tightly in prayer; and events concluded with God working wonders!

Truly, truly, I tell you that God works in the lives of those who trust in Him!  He hears our prayers, our hopes, and our cries!  He works, even when He seems quiet. He moves, even if we don’t understand all the situations that come our way.  Regardless, God is God – and He really is Someone who delights talking to His beloved children and to care for their needs.

Therefore now I invite you, my friend, to start a habit of daily conversation with the Lord in prayer. Set a definite time and place where you can regularly meet with Him.  Open your Bible again; grab a pen and write on a journal.  We can only know our God and Savior by allowing Him to reveal His heart in Scriptures and to enjoy His presence in our times of fervent prayer.  Start it now, as you take all these to heart, and make knowing God our utmost priority.