grateful for 2018

Thank You for the Ups and Downs, 2018

2018 has been a year of extremes. I’ve had the hardest battles at one end and got answered prayers on the other. But for the mountaintops and setbacks, I’m grateful. I’m grateful because more than anything else, His grace abounds.

I’m grateful that every time I make stupid decisions, my Dad up there embraces me with discipline and unfathomable love. I’m grateful because I don’t deserve everything I have, yet God continuously opens His hands generously. I’m grateful that even if I’m a work in progress, I can still be used somewhere somehow. I’m grateful that I have Jesus because even if I’m just a speck in a world filled with trillions of people, I still exist because I have a purpose.

I’m grateful that I have strong, supportive loved ones who see the best and worst of me every day, yet choose to love and back me up nevertheless. I’m grateful for all the people I’ve encountered this year — those who left and those who’ve chosen to stay.

I’m grateful for new experiences, new cultures explored, and all the opportunities that came unexpectedly. I’m grateful for the humbling failures which reminded me that learning never stops, and that traversing life isn’t easy.

I’m grateful for this year, for every minute of it, because He has designed my days and made them all worthwhile.

Thank you, 2018. Praise God.

❤️
why I'm still here

There’s a Reason Why I’m Still Here

There were times when I would feel so little and incapable, when I would feel unable to pass trials, when I would feel alone, or when I would feel discouraged; and I would ask God to just take my life. I know these thoughts are irrational and impure. Yet my melancholic heart would cause me to cry so hard at times, and ask the Father to bring me to His kingdom so I won’t experience pain again –  no more hardships, no more drama – and so I can sing praises to Him forever, just as it’s written in Revelation 21:4. I still pray, though, for the negative thoughts to never come back.

Jesus hasn’t come back yet because of 2 Peter 3:8-9.

I remember one night when my impatience and unreasonable thoughts dominated again. I asked God: Lord, why can’t you just come back now and get me? I’m too weak for this world. A few days later, He answered my inquiry through my devotion. “With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)” These verses reminded me how selfish I can be. Life is not just about me after all. God wants to give others more time to come to repentance. He doesn’t want to settle with the number of Christians today. God wants multitudes of people – everyone, in fact – to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and be sealed with the Holy Spirit.

And I’m still here; I’m still alive.

Although it’s hard to believe at times, the truth is there’s a reason why I’m still here. God still wants to refine and sanctify me; God still wants to use me in bringing people to repentance; God still wants to send me somewhere to serve His people; God still has a purpose for me. And he has a purpose for you as well.

If you are like me, if you’ve also asked God to just take your life for whatever reason, I pray that you and I would be reminded that God has a purpose for us, and that purpose is related with His own purpose. If your specific/personal task is yet to be revealed to you, please know that generally and ultimately, our purpose is to glorify Him in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to obey Him and be purified by His blood (1 Peter 1:2). We are to love God above all, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Mark 12:30-31) Also, He wants to use us in bringing the gospel to the nations and in making disciples.

His ways are Higher than ours.

For now, even if it’s hard to trust the uncertainties, let us rest in the fact that His ways are always higher than our ways, and His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. Therefore, no matter how cruel things could get, no matter how draining the circumstances are, let us rely on His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). The Holy Spirit is with us in our battles. We can talk to Him and seek comfort. And I know it’s easier said than done, but please let us not be discouraged, and just continue fighting the good fight of faith. One day everything will make sense when we hear God say: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

Let’s also pray for God to help us think only what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), so we could get rid of negativity and suicidal thoughts. It’s possible in Jesus’ name! 🙂

I hope this has encouraged you in some way. May our good God comfort and remind you of His love and promises every day. 🙂

 

With you in Spirit,
Pat

#OnHigherGround2017: My First Singles’ Getaway Experience

I signed up for #OnHigherGround2017, the biggest singles’ event of Victory South Hub, with three things in mind: church involvement, fellowship, and God.  True enough, I’ve gained a new family (my teammates from Team A’right Arayat), and new sisters (my roomies at room 436). But on top of everything, I have experienced God’s overwhelming presence — in that shaky function room in Manor Hotel — like I’ve never experienced Him before. He gave me confirmations; He comforted me through songs; I was reminded of His promises; I was reminded of my purpose as a Christian.

If you haven’t joined a singles’ event or any retreat before, I hope this entry could inspire you to join the next retreat in your congregation. I promise it’s worth the vacation leave.

Three days of fellowship earned me lifetime friends.

                    #Onhigherground2017Team Alright Arayat

As you could see in the photos, my team was the cool, creative and clingy A’right Arayat. We’re like my favorite seafood platter — diverse yet perfectly mixed. There’s someone who makes us laugh through his genuine randomness (Hi, #UVExpress!); there’s a shy yet wisdom-filled lady, a businessman with a weird accent, a chinito engineer, a North Korean representative (JK!), a generous hotelier, witty/slightly bully teachers, a campus missionary who’s searching for the one, a fresh grad who’s getting out of her shell, a 100% English-speaking lawyer, and there were observers like me. A’riiiiiight?

(c) Atty. Jori

Apart from the fun group activities, I think the best moment I had with this team was during our last night at The Manor. We were pouring our hearts out in that real talk session — ignoring that we’re all freezing and sniffing because of the cold weather. I got to know them deeper; I got to see their souls; I got to see God’s work in their lives. Under the moonlight, we prayed together, plus rebuked and encouraged each other. In fact, until now, our team is still communicating. We have a Facebook group where anyone could open up a problem without feeling judged, where anyone could start a “poll” for unity’s sake, a group where we can send encouragement and virtual hugs.

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that talk about the importance of fellowship – Acts 2:42, Colossians 3:16, and Hebrews 10:24-25 to name a few. I never understood these verses until I became part of a Victory Group; and all the more after joining the singles’ event. You won’t trust someone you barely knew, right? I wouldn’t either. That’s why we really have to be intentional in getting to know other people. If you can’t boldly introduce yourself to someone just yet, joining a retreat could be a strategic move.

Being with souls who were as hungry for God’s presence as I was boosted my fire.

(c) Jetro

If you want a coal to fire up, you have to put it together with burning coals. The same goes for Christians. Whenever we’re feeling dry and empty, we have to be with people who have the fire for God. That’s what happened at On Higher Ground. I was one of those losing the fire. But the little spark left in my coal became ablaze because I was able to worship and spend time with other coals who were also burning for God.  Romans 12:11 says “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive.” To ensure this, we have to stay together.

I gained beautiful memories.

                                        #onHigherground2017

(c) Charm & Jerilyn

Another memory that I’d like to revisit from this experience was being able to talk about God’s Word with my LG-mates in a totally unique setting. I can remember holding my stick of street food along Session Road while listening to my LG-mates as they share how God spoke to them during worship and the sessions. It was a beautiful sight to remember.

The girl talk with my gorgeous, girly companions at room 436 was also worth mentioning. I’m glad even for a short span of time, I learned a glimpse of their love lives and faith walk. <3

God has used this event to confirm what He wanted me to do.

#OnHigherGround2017

(c) Aaron

My mind was filled with questions and uncertainties before the getaway. God wanted me to do something that my heart was resisting. I was full of fear and unbelief. I even thought maybe I was just hearing myself and not God. But God spoke to me through the songs, the preachings, and through the Holy Spirit. I can still remember the powerful words that came from Pastor Janssen Morados. “Relentless faith is not moved by fear. You are not intimidated; you are not moved by fear.” And he continued with “We, people, are in search of fulfillment. Unfortunately, most of us see it in the wrong places. God would love to [give you] the comforts of this life, but He wants to use those for His purpose. This is not your story; it is God’s story through you.”

While cringing at the truth, I couldn’t contain my tears from falling because I could sense the Lord’s presence. I know the Holy Spirit talked to each and every person in that room through Pastor Janssen.

The event aimed to glorify God, and He was there with us.

 

#OnHigherGround2017

(c) Victory Alabang Singles’ group

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20

I don’t know how to stress this enough but while worshipping, many of us cried, lifted our hands, and jumped to the point of almost breaking the second floor of the Forest Lodge because we have felt God’s presence. We knew He’s there. We knew He’s happy seeing His people gathering to celebrate the freedom he gave through Jesus Christ.

The miracles didn’t end in the retreat. God has given me a “direct” word/confirmation through a random Christian person I didn’t know a few days after the event. I still couldn’t believe it until now, but that’s our God. He reveals Himself graciously and wonderfully. I won’t tell the story here anymore ’cause I don’t wanna read TLDR comments. HAHAHA.

 

Anyway, the Lord has used #OnHigherGround2017 to increase my faith in Him, and elevate my fellowship with the Holy Spirit. It has helped me better appreciate the importance of being with fellow believers, to be fearless, and to continuously say yes to the Great Commission. With that, I’m grateful.

Thank You, Lord!  Thank you, Victory South Hub. Thank you, Pastor Francis and Miss Christabelle. Thank you, OHG-mates! I can’t wait for the next getaway! <3