Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Handling Criticism

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Many of us, for sure, aren't a fan of criticisms. Most of the times, those critiques were unacceptable and being given to us even without asking. Our initial reaction was to reject it especially if those words were harsh and in the stage of stepping on our ego. This may also lead to violent response that might cause committing sins. It is very important to pay attention when we are receiving criticisms. Another result could be a force examination of our weakness and question our abilities and strengths. But isn't it a good thing? It can also help us to comprehend where we stand and identify those things that need improvement. We can also prevent in doing the same mistake if we listen carefully. 

Our leaders or other believers might criticize us and we need to penetrate in our mind those words if such opinion can bring us to spiritual growth and unleash our potentials. This kind of attitude is strongly expressed in Proverbs 10:17-18 (17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. 18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.) 

But hey, it doesn't mean that all criticisms are valid and correct. But as a Christian, it is substantial to know how to respond and assess those things. Don't play the blame game, reject immediately or defend yourself. Primary thing to do is ask God if He is telling something for you then give thanks to that person who took time in showing interest to you and inform him/her that you will reflect on such observation. During the evaluation of criticism, consider important things such as your beliefs, character, lessons you've learned and His teachings. Criticisms could be an opportunity for growth and we must apologize if necessary.

I used to reject criticisms before even I analyze it and that was totally wrong. My church mates in Singapore used to give opinions and provide necessary explanation for some things that I didn't understand. But I have learned that lesson and we should accept things that can prosper and progress us in our journey to maturity. So the next time someone complained about a food that you cooked, take it as an opportunity to improve your skills and never hate that person or swear that you will never cook again.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Let's Talk About Sex

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Before arriving here in Dubai, I thought that this emirate would be very strict in every way. But I was wrong; this city from UAE is far from the imagination of others. It is much open here compared to Saudi. In Saudi, a man and a woman can't walk and talk in a shopping mall unless they are married. Restaurants have different space for men and women; there are no movie houses and no alcoholic drinks at all. Here, you can do whatever you want to do and alcohols are available in bars and you can only buy outside of bar if you have liquor license. It is actually a good way of controlling things here. But what really surprised me here in Dubai is the execution of the law regarding sex. If you got caught engaging sex activity to a person who is not your husband/wife, you will go straight to jail. Getting pregnant here if you are not married is also an offense and against the law; you'll get jailed and deported. A man and a woman can't live together in a room except if they are married; if you won't follow, you will face eviction and probably jail time.

In my opinion, the rule is kind of correct. Of course in true Christian way, sex is only allowed between married couples. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with such law here and it is also conforming to the law of morale. They just have different kind of punishment here, but in our case, we know to whom we are answerable. Temptation is inevitable in this world and we sometimes prefer instant pleasure without understanding its consequences. The behavior in sexual immorality will progress unless we make the best way to put a stop on it. As we continue to commit such sin, the penalty progresses and we might drown into the sea of lustful sins.

This scenario was exactly described in James 1:14-16 - "14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters." Committing this ultimate sin can also lead to pregnancy and acquiring some diseases. If we continue to perpetrate such act, it might cause loneliness and the self-esteem might be in trouble. Yes, premarital sex can be seen widely in most places but this shouldn't be an excuse and we shouldn't tell to ourselves: "Why can't I do it if others can?" Sex apart from marriage is in violation of Scripture.

In the long run, if we carry forward in this lifestyle, it will only result to greater sin and this will lead to doubt our salvation. It will also cause questioning the power of prayer and forgiveness. If we maintain such disgrace act, we might lose our capacity to determine which is right and wrong. An "express pleasure" is nothing but a piece of unworthy time and act. But hey, there is good news. The power of Jesus' blood forgives our sins. He is always there waiting for us. We are always welcome to His kingdom if we will only confess our sins and run away from those wrongdoings. Don't worry about dealing physical and emotional consequences as Jesus restores our spirit to purity.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's Your Choice

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It was year 1996 when I watched the Filipino film "Magic Temple". The story was quite unique and was tagged as major improvement in film making. It won several awards in Metro Manila Film Festival of the same year. But there was one scene that marked on my mind. It was the scene where Jubal and Sambag have to decide which road to take in order to reach their destination. One of the roads was so broad with very colorful lights and full of beautiful things; while the other one was so narrow and dark. Jubal took the narrow one and Sambag chose the broad one. In the end, Jubal was right as the broad road seemed so easy that took Sambal in danger.

In real life, when we want something, we have the tendency to take the easier ways to accomplish it. We are so focused on the beautiful things and casting away all hardships and challenges. Well, life isn't all about happiness and reaching our Father's kingdom isn't an easy road to take. In Matthew 7:13-14 (13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.), Jesus described two kinds of roads, broad and narrow. We all believe that we are destined to heaven and we are thinking that the only thing that we should do is to do good. It's just a part of a bigger portion of a puzzle.

On the broad road, life is so easy. Taking a journey is no sweat. This will only require us few commitment and all kinds of philosophy will be accepted. This road seems to be full of promises; we can do all we want to do. It's all about partying, happiness and indulge into material things, we are free and we only do what we think is the best. In this road, it has all the things that we desire but in the end, nothing lasts forever, no lessons learned, nothing made us stronger, nothing prepared us for something bigger. We became so contented that we forgot that there is more into life.

Narrow road has a small entrance and requires us with only ONE prerequisite to enter and that is through faith in Christ. I am telling you this road isn't easy, faith in Christ is path that we give full commitment to our Savior and the lifestyle will include sacrifice and trust. One major rule is to love God and love our neighbors. He will tell us what's the best for us, He will decide all the things for us and the only thing we can do is to obey. The path will be harder than the other road, there will be detours and road blocks but they were only a test of faith. But we are assured that if we take this road, all His promises are guaranteed.

Yes, it is our choice which road to take and we should be wise and making this decision. The broad one which leads to hopelessness and no relationship at all with God or the narrow one that brings an everlasting life. It is actually an easy choice and this shouldn't be a question. Surrender to God and ask for relationship with Him and that's a start to enter His kingdom. 

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dealing with False Guilt

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Most of us feel guilty once we have performed wrong doings or violated God's law. It was like the feeling of being responsible for the things that caused negative to our life and even to others. The Holy Spirit is giving His full force and a lot of efforts to turn us away from committing sins and lead us towards to our Heavenly Father. I just realized that not all guilt comes from ungodly actions. 

Have you experienced that sometimes you question your performance for not reaching your goals? Or even feel so ashamed of the past events that we can't move forward? Even not fulfilling the expectations and criticisms by others has a big impact to us. Those times of rejection or pattern of abuse from a family member or encountering a power tripper supervisor can lead us to negative feelings. We can think of those ideas such as, 'what did I do wrong?', 'why it isn't enough?', 'why didn't I act on it', 'how did it happen, what was I doing?' These things are great and powerful tool that our enemy uses to spin our heads away from God. Whether false or real, these feelings can lead to the division of our attention. We can't think properly and we might question God's goodness. It also wastes our time and energy and insecurities will enter to overpower us. We might not feel the true love of God as we mingle and entertain those thoughts. Then what's next? It may lead to depression and hopelessness.

To cope up these, others channel their feelings through over shopping, overeating, excessive amount of time watching television and surfing the internet. But in the end, after those things, the feeling of guilt is still there. I admit that before I had the personal relationship with Jesus, I had the tendency to overeat and waste a lot of money just to push away those condemning thoughts and I assure you, those things will not help you at all! We must remember that dealing with guilt quickly is very important.

In Hebrews 10:22, "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.", it commands us to draw near to God as He will cleanse us. Point your eyes towards only to Him. Also, in Romans 8:1-2 "1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death", we must be reminded that there is no condemnation in the Kingdom of God. We must first admit and acknowledge our emotion and surrender everything to Him. Then identify the issue and pray it to God. If you commit sins and violated His commandment then ask for forgiveness and take necessary measures to amend your attitude (1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"). If you have the feelings of false guilt then ask God to adjust your thoughts and let Him guide you and point you to the right thinking. Praise Him because He promises forgiveness and the removal of guilt.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Why Evax (Evangelism) is Important?

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When I first experienced the true relationship with Christ, I was so delighted and filled with joy. It was like I am living in a world of nothing but happiness. I have learned a lot and was full of excitement for every devotion, life group and services. But one time, I was invited to this street activity where we should invite other people to join our church and our journey to perfectness. They called it EVAX or short for evangelism. In dictionary, evangelism means the spreading of Christian gospel thru zealous activity for a cause. Indeed, the bible says that we should let others know His works and love for us through discipleship. During the evax activity, I was so hesitant to approach people walking in Orchard Street and ask them to join us in our church and let them know how important it is to be saved and how joyful to be in His arms. I was very shy and I can't even do it on my own, I have to be accompanied by others. Honestly, I was saying to myself the words yuck, cheap, ewww and other degrading words. 

I know I know that was wrong but eventually, I realized that what we were doing was so pleasing to His eyes and that it is our responsibility, as Christians, to help others and let them be aware about salvation and grace. If we will read John 1:35-42 ("35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter)), we will see how Andrew first heard the good news poured out by John and he followed and spent time with Him as he longed to know Jesus. After finding inner peace and learning how good it was to be in the presence of Jesus, Andrew invited his brother with delight and full of eagerness.

We might have been in a negative path before but we were saved and glad that those days are over. We are now filled with joy and love through His presence. But this feeling doesn't stop in devotion, prayer and attending life groups and services, we should and we must let others know the happiness that we have found. We should motivate others patiently and cast away all the hindrances in our evangelism. Before I leave Singapore, we still had this activity and though I was still shy on doing it at first, once the conversation started, I was so comfortable in talking to others and inviting them to attend our activities was priceless. Here in Dubai, I don't think that public evangelism is allowed. It will be very hard for others to do evax but we must remind ourselves that there is no absolute reason to by shy about it; instead we should be proud that we have Him in our lives. Let's continue to invite others and share them the life changing events that we experienced and the journey to true Christianity.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Are You Carrying a Heavy Load?

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In our lives, it is impossible not to encounter any burden. Yes, it is a part of being human. Whether the burden is about financial or relationship, waking up everyday won't be easy once we rethink those things. We might also be thinking what the future holds for us that can put heavier loads on our shoulder. Exhaustion is inevitable but we can lighten up the burden if we handle it biblically. In Matthew 11:28-30, it says there: "28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We all know that life wouldn't be easy and Jesus is very aware of that. He doesn't want us to carry unnecessary things for He knew that our Heavenly Father can help and assist us. The above passage assures us that we can find peace in His arms; a promise that there is hope and in Him, we can be relived. Before we come to Him, let us first admit to ourselves that we have burdens that we want to surrender to Him. Next is to identify what is the real issue then we can raise it up to Him. When we pray, we can ask Him to take good care of us and the burden on our shoulders to be lifted up even a slice of its weight. The answers may vary, the response could be immediate in a miraculous way or He may allow those burdens to remain for a little while so that we can learn from it or think it over and identify what might have caused it. But the good news is we are assured that we are not facing the challenges alone as He is always there for us.

If you are carrying heavy load now, come to Him and find peace and relief. Don't stumble and hold them solely but instead continue to pray and believe and trust Him that everything will be okay eventually. We can be victorious and the freedom from burden will come soon. Let Him take those burdens from you.

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