Thursday, January 30, 2020

Suffering and Perseverance

We are living in a time of various sufferings. Suffering is a reality of life we must endure at all costs. Unfortunately, people disdain the concept of suffering simply because of its unpredictability. From a Christian perspective, suffering is expected. The apostle Peter exhorted everyone how suffering produces the God’s grace: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10, ESV).

Randy Alcorn provided his observation about suffering and its purpose from Gods perspective:

God uses suffering to purge sin from our lives, strengthen our commitment to him, force us to depend on his grace, bind us together with other believers, produce discernment, foster sensitivity, discipline our minds, impart wisdom, stretch our hope, cause us to know Christ better, make us long for truth, lead us to repentance of sin, teach us to give thanks in times of sorrow, increase our faith, and strengthen our character. And once he accomplishes such great things, often we can see that our suffering has been worth it.
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Suffering, when fully understood from God’s perspective, is good for us. Adding perseverance when going through suffering adds the faith dimension of seeing God work for His glory and our benefit. H. Jackson Brown, Jr. exemplified how perseverance changes the dynamic when suffering is present: “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins, not through strength but by perseverance.”

Here are some practical truths to learn as we go through life’s suffering. First, sufferings are part of our life and must be expected in Christian life. However, giving up is not an option. The apostle Paul showed what attitude one must apply: And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9, ESV). In addition, it is best to remember Charles Spurgeon’s reminder, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”

Next, sufferings are an opportunity for God’s grace and power seen and manifested. That’s why we need to “seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (1 Chronicles 16:11, ESV). Billy Graham described,

People who go through life unscathed by sorrow and untouched by pain tend to be shallow in their perspectives on life. Suffering, on the other hand, tends to plow up the surface of our lives to uncover the depths that provide greater strength of purpose and accomplishment.

The apostle Paul exemplified suffering and adding a huge dose of perseverance. He simply followed Jesus’ example. Actually, Jesus foretold that his Christian journey is marked with much suffering. He responded accordingly with this knowledge on hand. Inwardly, he rejoiced with hope in God’s promises and assurances. Outwardly, he exhibited perseverance during tribulations, and he stood firmly at all times. Most importantly, he prayed constantly and sought help from the Lord without wavering. 

In this New Year, your life may be filled with sufferings similar to or worse than last year. However, here’s something you need to realize as you face another year, “You made it! And no matter how you faced the challenges or sufferings of the past year, God was with you last year and if you allow Him, He’ll be with this New Year!  

If you ask me, allow me to share the Bible verses that became my daily source of facing life’s sufferings with joy and perseverance: 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:22-25, ESV).

Keep looking up to God for help and He will never let you down.

Let’s talk again!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

GOD’S WILL IN ALL SEASONS


Everyone needs an assurance of  this fact: God is fully involved in the affairs of human history since day one. He does so because He is the Lord of heaven and earth. 

J. R. Miller provided an excellent illustration of how God works in our lives:

God's will is always the best; it is always divine love. A stricken wife, standing beside the coffin of her husband, said to a friend: "There lies my husband, my only earthly support, my most faithful human friend, one who has never once failed me; but I must not forget that there lies also the will of God, and that that will is perfect love." By faith she saw good and the blessing in what appeared to her the wreck of all her happiness. But truly the good and the blessing are in every dark providence which comes into the life of God's child. Our Father never means us harm in anything He does or permits. His word is, "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace."

From a biblical perspective, we can get a glimpse from one of the apostle Paul's missionary journeys when he engaged the philosophers of Athens and used an “unknown altar” as his entry point of sharing about God’s will. In Acts 17:24-28, we can read this occasion of great value for us today:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.' 

The apostle Paul began by asserting God’s Omnipotence as the Lord of heaven and earth and the Creator of everything we have. God’s will displayed in all seasons from His throne showing He is in full control of the affairs of the nations. Psalms 103:19, “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”

Next, Paul affirming God’s Omnipresence as the Destiny-maker of all men in realizing His great purpose (Deut. 32:7-8). God’s will affirmed in all seasons according to His timetable showing He is in control of the affairs of humanity in general.  Daniel 2:20-22, “Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.”

Finally, Paul acknowledging God’s Omniscience as the Source of what we need in sustaining our life as human beings. God’s will reiterated in all seasons as stated by the Scriptures  showing He is control of individual people’s lives and their destiny in particular. Job 12:10, “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” (Gen. 2:7; Hebrews 9:27)

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Overall, here’s the gist of it all: God created you and me to live on a high plane and to carry out the great plans He has for our life. May we have wisdom to yield our lives to Him so that the forces of sin may not take us captive and cause us to miss His plan for our life (Gospel Herald).

In looking ahead, never forget God’s will for us is sure and His promise is secure for all those who believes in Him. No matter what you see ahead, God always provides a direct path towards the best plan anchored in His will. 

Let's talk again!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Fifty Years and Counting: A New Journey of Life

Somebody said, “50 is the age when you look back and smile at what you have achieved, frown at those missed opportunities, and release a slight chuckle at those moments.” 

I've officially entered the golden age; thus, another level of adventure awaits. I believe I’m at the point of seeing life from a top-view perspective. It is simply having an attitude of “I’ve been there and done that” standpoint. Life, as I move forward, becomes a new epic journey. My children are in their 20’s and living out their lives with fullness and great expectations. Also, my wife and I celebrated our 25th year of marriage. Altogether, the year 2019 is a double whammy for my marriage life and my personal life. 

What could be better than this? From a spiritual perspective, it is expecting greater things from God’s and being ready for them one step and one day at a time. Life is indeed great with abundant blessings; however, they are not without challenges. The only difference between facing them is having God at our side. He makes all things possible when things seem impossible. What’s my goal in the next years inching towards the end? Keeping my mind focused on what’s important and valuable as a family man and a disciple of Jesus. Restating what the apostle Paul said: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead" and "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). There’s no higher aspiration than finishing God’s calling in my life through godly wisdom and biblical guidance. 

From a biblical background, listed below are some of the references I found in the Scriptures about the number fifty: (Source: https://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/50.html)
      The number 50 derives its meaning from its relationship to the coming of God's Holy Spirit. 
      Fifty can be found at least 154 times in the Bible.
      After Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene on Sunday morning, April 9 in 30 A.D., he ascended to the Father in heaven (John 20:17). His ascension, as a type of firstfruit from the dead (Revelation 1:5), occurred on the day God told the Israelites they were to wave a sheaf composed of the firstfruits of their harvest (Leviticus 23:9 - 11). It is on this day that the count of 50 days to the Feast of Pentecost begins.
      In the New Testament, the word Pentecost comes from the Greek word for fiftieth (Strong's Concordance #G4005). Also known as the Feast of Weeks or Firstfruits, it was on this special Holy Day that God first poured his Holy Spirit upon about 120 believers who had gathered to keep the day (Acts 1:15, 2). They became the firstfruits of God's spiritual harvest of humans. 

Finally, new things are ahead and I’m pretty excited about what the Lord prepared for the next phase of my life and ministry. I’m blessed in fulfilling my calling and serving God’s ministry through JRAM. Being surrounded by mighty men and women in pursuit of God’s best makes it all worthwhile. No dull moment, as one may say. Indeed, greater things are yet to come. 

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As each day comes and goes, I’m fully persuaded that I’m placed exactly where God wanted me at this point in my life. Whatever may happen next, it’s all in His hands. I trust and entrust to God every aspect of my life, whether good and not so good things. It’s all about learning the lessons intentionally and growing in God’s grace daily. This is the day that the Lord has made, and I will rejoice more in the next days ahead. Become excited with me and keep me in your prayers as well. 

Thanks for sharing your time in reading this short reflection as I enter my golden age towards a life that honors God. 
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Monday, September 30, 2019

The Good Samaritan: Loving Others in Unexpected Ways

Matthew wrote the reason why Jesus’ spoke in parables: All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world” (13:34-35).

What is a parable? Listed below two descriptions and its significance:
1.     A parable is a fictitious or made-up story designed to teach a lesson through comparison.[1]
2.     Parables are told so that only those who really care will come to know the truth.[2]

In this parable, Jesus focused on the significance of the Samaritan. According to Biblical Archaeology Society Staff,[3]Looking at the Jewish social structure, one can observed the Samaritans were viewed closely with Gentiles than Jews.” What practical lessons can we learn from this parable in today’s fast-paced world? First, it is about applying love to an individual not based on one’s status of life. In this parable, Jesus taught genuine love is applied beyond our situation because of our love for God. Given the opportunity, our response comes from God’s love deposited in us by Jesus’ love and sacrifice. The apostle John stated, We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:19-21). 

Here’s an illustration to compare: 
In an engine-room it is impossible to look into the great boiler and see how much water it contains. But running up beside it is a tiny glass tube, which serves as a gauge. As the water stands in the little tube, so it stands in the great boiler. When the tube is half full, the boiler is half full; when the tube is empty, the boiler is empty. Do you ask, "How do I know I love God? I believe I love Him, but I want to know." Look at the gauge. Your love for your brother is the measure of your love for God. ~ S. S. Chronicle

Next, applying love to an individual is not anchored on the prevailing culture and social structure. Jesus taught an enduring principle of loving others beyond the current culture and outside of our comfort zones. When faced with a hard decision, God’s love becomes the only measuring stick of our response. Here’s what the Scriptures say about this: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love (1 John 4:18).
Here’s a story illustrating this lesson:
A criminal under sentence of death was waiting the day of execution. A minister attended him. All efforts to lead him to repentance seemed unavailing. Going home, he met a man who was known all over the district for his life and good works. The conversation turned upon the criminal. The minister requested the elder to go and see him. He did so, and sitting beside the criminal, he took his hand in his, and said, with much fervor and simplicity, "Wasn't it great love in God to send His Son into the world to die for sinners like you and me?" In a moment, the fountain of the man's heart was broken up and he wept bitter tears, and afterward said, "When the minister spoke to me, it seemed like one standing far above me, but when that good man came in and sat down by my side, and classed himself with me, and said, 'Wasn't it great love in God to send His Son into the world to die for sinners like you and me?' That’s when I couldn't stand it any longer and repented." ~Author Unknown

Finally, applying love to an individual is not anchored on one’s capability or ability. Jesus taught applying love involves a willingness to go the extra mile. The only source of strength in ministering to others in need comes from God’s love as the only source of our motivation whenever we do it. The apostle Paul stated, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). Dr. M. Scott Peck explained it well, Sacrificial love has transforming power. Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truly loves does so because of a decision to love. 

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The apostle Paul summarized what genuine love is all about: For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). Jesus, in sharing this parable, expanded the application of God’s love based on the law beyond people’s comfort zones. In applying God’s love genuinely, it is not just applying love based on God’s law but applying Jesus’ brand of loving others as his disciples:  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). 

No matter how anyone spins the story, Jesus’ love for people stands above any story and leading many into experiencing God’s genuine love. In the end, Jesus illustrated in this parable an expectation for God’s people to become a Good Samaritan at all times. 



[3] https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/archaeology-today/archaeologists-biblical-scholars-works/understanding-the-good-samaritan-parable/

Friday, August 30, 2019

Living Life to the Fullest – Remembering Eliza Navo-Kalaw (August 11, 1975 - July 30, 2019)

The five of us.
One of the hardest times of life is losing a sibling in their prime. Adding to the grief is seeing the youngest among us gone. However, knowing what she went through and how she exhibited strength while battling cancer in the past six and half years, provided relief. Why? Growing up with Eliza, I saw two distinctive traits: strong character and charm.
I was 12 yo and
she was 6yo.

Our childhood provided many opportunities for developing our individualities. Most importantly, she knew her value in our family and even took advantage of it as the youngest one, both in a good way and in the cleverest way! Her ability in talking her way out of things especially in a bad situation was
With Mom and myself
priceless. In retrospect, she took us all hostage to her charm. Also, adding liveliness to the process resulted in getting what she wanted without any opposition. And that’s a very good problem we all knew we had with her. Simply, it all boils down to this fact: we all had our soft spot for her because we loved her too much.

Eliza loved life and the many adventures it brought her. Illustrating in the many faces of Eliza below, one can observe how she enjoyed living life to the fullest.




Even when faced with a stark reality of approaching death, her ability to impress everyone with cheerfulness was evident. At all times, she never looked back at the “what ifs” but always looked forward to the various “why not?” Any opportunity, however small, became a possibility and even when experiencing pain, her aim was attaining fulfillment with joy. Witnessed by many, her endurance in seeking joy at every moment inspired those around her. Always looking ahead and never giving into being bedridden. Given the chance, even with an ounce of strength, accommodating people was her priority. She loved people and showed generosity in doing so.

Having cheeseburger dinner
with her husband, Stefano.
It was her last meal.
With Evelyn, Arlene,
and Joan.
Throughout her journey, however short it might be, showed courage under pain. She displayed faith at every moment and encouraged others to do the same. She was unstoppable in pursuing the best at every chance she gets and facing the end of her life was no different. Eliza only allowed the positive view of life and the prospect of going home in heaven became her last battle cry. I am certain, given more time; Eliza’s motto of living life to the fullest is something everyone must attain no matter what the cost.

Thank you, Eliza, for imparting your life to many you’ve met and encountered, both personally and professionally. You displayed how one’s life is lived even with death hanging on your head. You’ll never be forgotten and will be remembered for the impact you made.

We’ll meet again in heaven. Enjoy your new adventure there!


Eliza Navo-Kalaw obituary: https://kearneyfs.com/obituaries/eliza-navo-kalaw-