Saying Thank You

In this journey called life, we will always have our share of challenges.

On some days, these challenges can be more difficult to live with. And they can sometimes drag for days, weeks, months. Some can even last for years. When they do, it can be an easier choice to complain.

Yet when we take time to reflect and think about our life, our past, there is always something to be thankful for.

Perhaps what is needed now as we face our problems, our pain is to choose to thank God anyway. To thank Him for everything that He has done so far and to thank Him in advance for how He will come through in the midst of our concerns and challenges.

By all means, let’s tell God what burdens our hearts, our minds. But let’s not forget to say a word of thanks or sing a song of gratitude, too.

Finding God in Music, Nature, the Movies

How does the Lord speak to you? How do you experience His love, His presence?

My number one answer would be nothing less than through His Word, the Bible. All God’s promises are written there. Along with His purpose for you and me, His guidance and of course, His plan for the world.

Aside from God’s Word, I also experience His presence through music. There are times He speaks to me through songs. Lately, I have had some down moments and this was one song which I sensed that God used to comfort me:

There’s this line in the song: Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place which just really blessed me 🙂

Nature is also something that just amazes me and brings me much closer to the Lord. Whether it’s the quiet waves of the sea (or a body of water for that matter), the green majesty of the mountains and plains as they are covered by grass, the blue skies and the movement of the clouds — these move me to praise and thank God.

New Zealand has such amazing scenic places reminding me of God’s handiwork.

I have also experienced watching some films that really gave me a moment of introspection. It’s like God was saying something, reminding me something through the scenes of the film, the characters, even its music. One such film that touched me was the movie, The Age of Adaline. The story is about a woman who doesn’t age. While it may seem a good thing that a woman stays in the literal same age year after year, this reality was not something she can celebrate. After all, while she stays the same, all her loved ones continue to age and then die. The film reminded me that not all seemingly good things are really good for us. And that eternity is meaningless without the people we love, without God.

I am thankful that God can use any medium He wants to speak to us, inspire us and even rebuke us (Psalm 24:1).

Your Provision is Coming Soon

It is incredibly easy to worry.

When you have lost your job or your source of income begins to dry up and all the bills keep coming anyway, it is so easy to wring your hands and feel a quiet panic rise inside you. It is easy to be afraid, to get worried. After all, how are you going to make ends meet? And yet you have professed your belief in an all-sufficient God. Why is it so easy to worry instead of hold on to your faith in God’s provision?

One answer, I think, is that we see with our eyes our needs, our lack. But we can not literally touch and see God here and now. We know He is with us but He escapes our finite senses. And we, too often, would try to think how He would provide and of course, we come up short. We both wonder how and will He really provide this time?

Scripture says that God is able to provide and He can do so in ways beyond what we can fathom. What can help us then from being swallowed up by our fears and our worries from our present lack? What can help strengthen our faith?

It helps if we choose to look back on those times when God came through for us, when He provided what we had needed then. If we have walked long enough with the Lord, I am sure we have our own collection of stories of his sufficient provision, of his timely intervention in the past. This is the time to remember as the Psalmist says in Psalm 77: 11-12:

    I will remember your great deeds, Lord;
    I will recall the wonders you did in the past.
    I will think about all that you have done;
   I will meditate on all your mighty acts.

It is so easy to worry, to fear and yes, to forget. And so today, before you let fear and worry hold your heart and mind tightly, choose to remember how God has been there for you in the past. And choose to hold on to His faithful word. Call on Him and ask Him to meet your need (Jeremiah 33:3, Matthew 7:7-11). Believe that His answer, your provision is coming soon.

note: This post was first written on 9 June 2015 and was kept in one of my files. I found this again tonight and decided to share it here.

7 Things to Remember When Doing Youth Ministry

My earliest experiences in reaching out to young people and serving them was at church camps back in the ’90s.

I was really just a young person then as well when I first started serving as one of the youth camp staff (assistant dorm counselor). The participants and staff came from different parts of the country (Philippines). I continued serving in this national church youth camp for the next two summers. And then the practice of holding national camps was stopped and regional camps and city-wide/province-wide camps were held instead. I continued to serve on for several years and then stopped as I moved to Thailand to serve as a missionary there.

Prior to moving to Thailand, I was given the opportunity to work with former street children in Cebu. A number of these children were in their teens. I served among these young people for a full year before I left for Thailand and when I came home after my first 2 years there. I served among them again until I was able to go back to Thailand.

In Thailand, particularly in Bangkok, I was given the privilege to help with youth work again in a local Thai church. My effort towards church planting/outreach work with a team also enabled me to connect with some young people in the village where I lived.

When I came back to the Philippines for good in 2007, I was eventually led to work with young people again. The difference this time, however, was I was now mainly involved in a training role and with the youth from different churches and groups throughout the country. I eventually helped in developing and producing a youth course which would help young people find their role in God’s Kingdom agenda and be engaged in the Great Commission. This course has been further refined and has now been made available in different countries. I let go of this training role for the youth in 2012 – the year I turned 40 🙂  I continue to love the young people that God sends my way but I have also come to realize that with my age, I may not be the best person to reach them now.

Through the years of serving the youth, I have learned a lot. I have gleaned several insights which I would like to share here. Perhaps as a youth worker or even as a parent, these 7 points might be of help to you:

  1. Listening is key. The best door, at least in my experience, in dealing with young people is to approach them with a listening ear. The youth have so many concerns which may no longer concern us older people 🙂  Many of them have heartbreaking stories about their families as well as failed relationships (romantic ones, friendships). If we want to reach them with the Gospel, if we desire to disciple them, we need to have ready ears to listen to them. We need to ask them questions and then be interested in what they have to say.
  2. Make room for fun. Approaching young people with too much seriousness and formality will not work. You need to be able to share laughter with them. Ask what songs or movies they like. What are their hobbies? Engage them with fun activities whenever possible. Do not make them think that having a relationship with the Lord is just all about reading the Bible and Bible studies. Help them to understand that while following the Lord might mean saying no to certain things, it also means saying yes to a joyful, purposeful life in Him. 
  3. Spend time with them. Young people love to hang out. So it is best to allocate time to just be with them. You also need to watch, however, and remind them that they also need to be spending time with their family. I have heard of many stories of parents complaining that once their kids become believers (especially if the parents do not have their own faith journey), they now spend so much time “at church” or being involved in “youth meetings” (other versions: Bible studies, discipleship classes, youth activities). While the young people may come to love our company as well as that of their fellow young people, it is our responsibility to make them aware that their world is not just us or their Christian friends. That, in fact, now more than ever they are meant to be a blessing to their family and to others. We should not take away their family time or school time away from them.
  4. Be authentic. In past generations, there seems to be a prevalent thought or value that Christian leaders need to always portray an image that they are strong, that they do not have weaknesses. That approach, I must say, no longer works especially with young people. We do not have to confess all our sins or weaknesses to young people but we need to be honest that yes, we have our own problems, our own struggles and weakness. And what keeps us intact and going is Christ’s grace and strength. When we make mistakes, we admit and apologize.
  5. Walk the talk. This is related to the previous point. Sometimes when we teach something to young people, we might think they have not really paid attention. But they do. And they will actually observe if we live ourselves the things we taught them or challenged them to live by.
  6. Always pray for them. Pray for them by name. Ask God to be real in their lives. We are just instruments of God’s truth. It is God’s work to transform their hearts and minds.
  7. Be updated with youth trends, concerns, challenges. Understand their world, their concerns and challenges. Read about these. Ask them questions. You need to be able to relate God’s word to their world. When you do Bible studies or discipleship, contextualize what they are learning into their own situation.

The journey of reaching and serving young people is both fun and challenging. But like all things we do, we can always ask God for wisdom and for the grace to continue the journey.

New Beginnings – The Way Forward

I started this blog in March 2015. And my very first blog post was this.

My main purpose in starting this blog has been to put articles of inspiration — spurred by all things positive and good going on around the world.  And the reason behind that is there seems to be more news focused on all the negative things going on but the truth is there is always something good going on around the world as well. But the problem is it is not as amplified as the news of crime, corruption, war — well, you get the picture.

Well, I think I started out with a good purpose but the reality is I couldn’t maintain this blog! There were just too many things going on in my life and not to mention the reality of maintaining other blogs. So this blog became like a neglected child in what could be a dark and lonely internet world.

My last post was so last year! Check here to see it. And like many other things that we do not anymore have time to take care of, I considered just totally stopping this blog. That means not renewing its domain name (Inspire Now) and getting it out of my paid hosting plan. But then there were some new stirrings in my heart about this blog as 2017 came in. A new direction for this blog began to occupy my thoughts.

I began to think: what makes my life full and fulfilling? Well, that is following and serving the Lord. Yup, and that’s one thing that my husband and I do together as well as separately. And so I looked back and see myself as far back as the early 1990’s when as a university student, I already began volunteering to teach kids at church and serving the choir during Sundays and serving the youth in summer youth camps ran by the church.

By the late ’90’s, I came to see serving should not just be done within the church, there’s serving to be done by the church and outside of the church, too. So my path of serving the Lord began to change. My husband has his own stories of serving God and people, too. In short, we have many stories and learnings (!) to share to those who would like to listen. And we can share them right here at Inspire Now.

Some of the specific things we have been involved in for the last two decades (close to three actually) include:

Cross-cultural missions
*serving as a missionary, missions mobilizer
Church leadership
Support Raising/Fundraising
Counseling
Preaching and Teaching
Worship/Music
Developing ministry teaching/training material and translation
Men’s Ministry
Serving in the marketplace
Youth ministry and camps
Children ministry and outreach

After writing that list, I was amazed at how many things God has allowed and led us to be involved in. Through this site,we hope to help others as they navigate their own journey of serving the LORD. We do not have all the answers but we will share what we can as to how we have been able to continue the path of serving the LORD of the harvest!

May Inspire Now truly inspire its readers to serve the Lord and His people and to reach others that they, too, may find their call and purpose in the light of eternity!

Darlene Zschech on Moving Forward After a Miscarriage

Unknown to many, renowned Australian worship leader and singer-songwriter Darlene Zschech suffered a miscarriage at one point of her life.

Zschech acknowledges the pain and heartbreak that comes with losing her baby. She also shares how she journeyed forward despite the loss, how she coped with this challenge.

Watch the video below and be inspired 🙂

ISIS Militant Converts to Christianity

While the world reels from attacks done by Islamic State (ISIS) militant, the last few months have also seen the conversion of an ISIS militant into Christianity.

According to reports, a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) worker got to know an ISIS fighter who admitted not only to killing a number of Christians but also enjoyed doing it.

That is, until he encountered Jesus in a dream.

The jihadist told the YWAM personnel that he had begun having dreams of this man in white who came to him and said, ‘You are killing my people.’ He, reportedly, began to feel really sick and uneasy about what he was doing.

The militant was also given a Bible by a Christian man who was about to be killed. He accepted the Bible and began to read it. And then in another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him.

ID-10015144

He is now asking to become a follower of Christ and to be discipled.

Kevin Sutter, current president of YWAM Frontier Missions, noted that there’s a lesson to be learnt here: not assuming that ISIS militants are “out of each of God’s grace and out of reach of God’s spirit”.

He adds that there are “gospel programmes going out in Arabic throughout the region, radio and TV and there is a huge response.”

“Many people are now following Jesus but they keep it quiet,” says Sutter. “They haven’t gone public about it. They even have church in their own home, they’re watching, they’ll serve Communion to one another as they’re watching TV.”

And so while ISIS militants are in control of huge swathes of Iraq and Syria, it doesn’t really mean that the Gospel has no means of capturing them.

_____________________________________
Based on reports from Christiantoday.com
Photo: Arvind Balaraman/freedigitalphotos.net

It’s True: Not All Who Wander are Lost

Are you unsure what to do next in your life? Or perhaps it’s not you but it’s your loved one or close friend who feels that way.

There maybe times when we are not so sure what step to take next after a career change, a relocation or a change of status. Or it could be that you sense that after a time of prayer, God is putting you in the waiting room.

Well then, perhaps this infograhic will bring a smile to your face or to your loved one or friend who sees it 🙂

lost-in-life-people-who-took-indirect-path-to-success-infographic
Image: fundersandfounders.com

On Change and Letting Go

Contemplating about change? Or about letting go and starting something new? Perhaps these cards from crosscards.com will inspire you just as they inspired me 🙂

cs-lewis-quote-better-things-550x320

It can be this simple:

just-begin-550x320

Take that step with a dose of faith.

martin-luther-king-jr-2-550x320

Thanks to crosscards.com for the images.