Until it happens to you

He was an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), as was his wife, while their children were growing up, and yet they managed to raise three of the kindest, most beautiful and hardworking people I know. When he was done being an OFW, he found work in Manila as a liaison officer, facilitating between taxi drivers and their management, as well as with government agencies. That’s what he was doing at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) when he was shot dead by two assassins on a motorcycle

There are no official statements about an investigation into his murder. Personally I blame President Duterte and his lawless, inhumane war on drugs. No connection? Think about it. Because it is presidentially sanctioned to kill drug addicts and drug pushers, many have been wrongfully identified and killed. Many have been collateral damage. You can kill someone and say, “Oops, sorry, I thought I saw his name/picture on the list of druggies”, and you’d get off scot-free. And you justify the killing even more by saying, “But look at how much safer we are, how much cleaner our country is now.”

And you’d tell me, because I personally blame the president you voted for, “Well what do you know, you don’t live here anymore. You haven’t come home in years.”

But I have family there. And he was my sister-in-law’s father. And if that could happen to him who’s brave and street-smart and kind, who worked a proper job, and just buried his wife early this year after her struggle with Alzheimer’s, and cradled my baby nephew in his arms a couple of months ago… If that could happen to him, it could happen to anyone else I love who is still living in what suddenly seems like a God-forsaken city. It could happen to someone you love. Or it could happen to you.

I don’t mean to blame God. I know that His heart is breaking over this, too. But I have a question about, or maybe take issue with, obeying Romans 13:1-7 with regards to the President of the Philippines.

I confess that I did not take this Scripture seriously when, as a fool-hardy university student, I wrote against the high school dropout who was plundering our country. I was self-righteously angry, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer gave me a platform, and – to his credit – Estrada was not an inhumane man. I joined my generation when we walked out of our classes to march towards the Edsa shrine, just as my parents marched with their generation in 1986.

Who will march now? Who will join arms (kapit-bisig) and stand up to the potty-mouthed bully in Malacañang?

I called him Tito (uncle) Eddie. What happened to him could happen to anyone. Because the President of the Philippines made it open season for anything.

Tama na. Sobra na. Palitan na.

Where is the love?

I planned to write this last night, but laziness got the best of me. Or maybe not. Suddenly it’s more poignant to ask, in light of the news of yet another bombing that we woke up to this morning – this one much closer to home. Where is the love?

My third week of Hymns on She Reads Truth began with a reminder of God’s Amazing Grace, and how Great is Thy Faithfulness. On Wednesday, I was chastised to examine what my heart has its sights set on (Be Thou My Vision). Ah but Thursday and Friday I rejoiced in What Wondrous Love is This; a “love so amazing, so divine [that] demands my soul, my life, my all” (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross).

Where is the love? When I got home on Friday, my social media feed was on fire with the re-release of The Black Eyed Peas’ #whereisthelove. The world asks.

God is love. And yet the world keeps turning away from this Love, keeps denying this Love. But it’s not just the world. We who carry Love’s name, I am ashamed to say, often fail to demonstrate to the world the wondrous love and amazing grace we have been given. Sometimes, we’re even more un-gracious and unloving. Where is the love? I am humbled and called by a wondrous, amazing Love to be His hands and feet to a world that is broken right now, even as I struggle with letting Him mend my brokenness. And so I pray that I – we – can love with His Love.

This week on… Hymns

This week, as I soaked in the second round of Hymns on She Reads Truth I was reminded that Jesus put the song in my heart.

Jesus Put The Song in My Heart is a song from the fourth album of Psalty the Singing SongbookKids Praise 4: Singsational Servants. It was sung by Charity Churchmouse, after she was rescued from the evil clutches of Mousetrap Records.

Were you a Kids Praise kid? I so was. My first exposure to my home church’s children’s choir was because they needed a well-behaved toddler-aged girl to sit on a sled throughout a song in a Christmas cantata, but I became a full-fledged chorister in a Kids Praise musical. A lot of the Scripture that remains in my memory is because of Kids Praise songs. Until my teen years, I was obsessed with Psalty’s albums; they supplied my repertoire that last afternoon I sang to my grandmother as she lay comatose in her hospital bed. She would be gone the next day. I was 12.

I was so blessed to pay forward that joy of singing praises that a Kids Praise kid gets not once, but twice when I was in youth group – to a summer theatre workshop and then to my home church when we revived the defunct children’s choir.

Then becoming an adult in a foreign land happened, and I forgot how it was to be a Kids Praise Kid. Sad to say, even when I was teaching a junior children’s choir for a season. But as I prayed Be Thou My Vision, rejoiced because His Eye is on the Sparrow, learned about Thy Mercy, My God, was reminded about O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, and called to have O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing (especially this one! – because how can I not sing about how God has warmed my heart?) throughout the week, I remembered to sing. Sing like a child. Sing from the heart. Sing, even a joyful noise. I haven’t got a thousand tongues, but I can sing a thousand songs – even at one song a day, but let’s be honest I do more than that during a karaoke party, so I can definitely do more! – to praise Him. As long as there is breath in me, for “let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6), I ought to sing.

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Who am I? *not 24601

*UPDATE: Good Morning Girls just posted the most fitting image for this on Facebook*


What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I pray (as much) as I should?

There was a time when I used to talk to God about everything; sometimes when I’m walking, even aloud (yes, in public). There was a time when I didn’t tire of asking for the same thing over and over again (and that wasn’t even for myself). What happened? When did I become the person who believed that something wasn’t true unless I verbalised (i.e.,prayed about) it? When did I take it upon myself that God didn’t need to hear about my mundane, didn’t want to hear when I wasn’t right with Him, was just as fatigued as I was about my repetitiveness?

In ‘Becoming a Woman With a Hot Prayer Life‘ on Good Morning Girls (GMG), Courtney Joseph writes: “We mustn’t be cold or even lukewarm in our prayer lives. God calls us to be women who pray.”

She quotes E.M.Bounds:

“Praying is a spiritual work; and human nature does not like taxing, spiritual work. Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a favoring breeze.

Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signs our spiritual bankruptcy, and all these are hard for flesh and blood to bear.

It is easier not to pray than to bear them. So we come to one of the crying evils of these times, maybe of all times –little or no praying…

The little estimate we put on prayer is evident from the little time we give to it.”

And Charles Spurgeon:

“You do not need to have scholarship, training, talent, or wit for prayer. Ask, seek, knock –that is all…Will you believe the promise? It is Christ who gives it. No lie ever fell from His lips. Oh, do not doubt Him. Pray on if you have prayed, and if you have never prayed before, may God help you to begin today!”

It took me a week to process, helped along by the Hymns series from She Reads Truth that I’m following during GMG’s break. These were the hymns, and my takeaways:

Come, Ye Sinners: Waiting till I’m a better person before I feel worthy of approaching God? “If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.”

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing: “Tune my heart” to always remember, to always sing, because I have a love that will never leave me!

It Is Well With My Soul: “Whatever my lot…” Is solitude my lot, Lord?

How Firm a Foundation: Yes, people may make me crumble, but I can trust the Lord completely… and yet, what am I afraid of?

I Need Thee Every Hour: Give it all to Jesus… (of course I had to hunt down that song from my childhood, something my parents played in the car’s cassette player – woo, ’80s here we come – and although I hadn’t heard it in, maybe, 30 years I knew there was a line: “Give them all to Jesus: shattered dreams, wounded hearts…”

When I finished Hymns, I went back to Becoming a Woman With a Hot Prayer Life, and it all just. Oh. My. Jaw drop.  It all, wondrously (oh how God works in mysterious ways!), wove together to literally bring me to my knees. To make me see James 5:13-19 as, not a call, but a comfort: In trouble? Pray. Happy? Sing your praise. Sick? Ask for prayer. Sinner? Pray. Pray for each other. Pray for the impossible. Pray for the ordinary.

And so. To celebrate this moment of enlightenment, here’s a throwback to a time when things were rainbows and butterflies:

And here are the lyrics of Give Them All to Jesus by Bob Sr Benson, Phillip Johnson:

Are you tried of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life
and at the feet of Jesus lay them down.
Give them all, Give them all,
give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys
give them all, give them all,
give them all to Jesus
and he will turn your sorrow into joy
He never said you would only see sunshine
he never said there would be no rain
he only promised us a heart full of singing
at’s the very thing that once brought pain.
Give them all, Give them all,
give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys
give them all, give them all,
give them all to Jesus
and he will turn your sorrow into joy
Give Them all to Jesus
At the feet of Jesus lay them down

Faith of our mothers

How valid is the decision you make when you’re six years old?

That’s how old I was when my mother told me that I would burn, apart from the family I held dear, in hell if I did not ask Jesus Christ into my heart to be my Lord and Savior. When you’re that young, your world is your immediate family, and the thought of life (or the afterlife, in this case) without them is hell enough – add to that the image of never-ending burning in fire and brimstone, and, well, that’ll turn a child to Jesus.

I remember that moment. I remember a little wordless book with colored pages – green, black, red, white and gold – and getting down on my knees to sing a song called Into My Heart. And I remember telling the same evangelistic spiel to Rochelle and Margot, who were a few months younger than me, and bossing them into kneeling to pray Jesus into their own hearts. I was a bossy child.

In youth group I met now-lifelong-friends who shared stories of a moment in their lives when they found themselves desperately on their knees, asking Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of their hearts. They had dramatic, life-shaking stories, and they were high on their lately-found faith. I envied them that, and got rightly scolded for not appreciating what I had: the faith of my mother, and her mother before her.

There was a time when I always thought I would become a mother, and although I wouldn’t scare my child into becoming a Christian, I knew that I would be sharing my faith with her, too.

I was sitting in a cafe, enjoying my haloumi stack brunch all by myself, journalling a brain dump and justifying why, after three months of having moved to Sydney I still hadn’t found a church to commit to, when this question popped out: How valid is the decision you make when you’re six years old?

Huh. Was my first reaction to that question. And then just as quickly, the answer: When everything else I’ve chosen since then is because of that six-year-old’s choice, that’s definitely a valid decision (but don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint!). And that’s been possible only because the One I chose hems me in behind and before, and has His hand on me (Psalm 139:5)… and also, because of the faith of my mother, and her mother before her. And so here we are, my mother with my brother on her lap, and my hand in my grandmother’s. And because I made that decision when I was six, someday my hand will be in my grandmother’s again.

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Only the One whose timing is perfect can do this…


“May the God who “became flesh and took up residence among us” shine His light on our faces (John 1:14). May we reflect His goodness and mercy. When people look at us, may they see the glow of God’s glory.”

The day that this reading (http://shereadstruth.com/2016/04/26/israel-departs-from-sinai/) came, the thing I had been waiting for these past few months happened. Talk about perfect timing. 

I still hear Fanny Ardant’s distinctive voice and accent from the 1995 remake of the movie Sabrina when I think of these words:

“Illusions are dangerous people. They have no flaws. I came here from Provence, alone and uneducated. For eight months — no, more than that: a year, I sat in a cafe, I drank my coffee and wrote nonsense in a journal. And then somehow it was not nonsense. I went for long walks and met myself in Paris.”

  
 
   
   

   
 
I was feeling whiny about long, solitary walks but when I was looking at the trails I’ve trod, I realised how much I have to be thankful for instead. And so I am grateful.