I Wonder If God Has a Tear Bottle

by Lieanne Lara

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? – Psalm 56:8.

While surfing the internet to gather some ideas for sermonette for kids, I came across the story of the tear bottle. I had never heard of it and I never knew it has a very captivating history.

laraThe tear bottle tradition has historically been a mourning tradition. They were prevalent in ancient Rome and Egypt, when mourners would collect their tears and bury them with loved ones to show love and respect.

It reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century, when those mourning the loss of loved ones would collect their tears in bottles with special stoppers that allowed the tears to evaporate. When the tears had evaporated, the mourning period would end. In some American Civil War stories, women were said to have cried into tear bottles and saved them until their husbands returned from battle. Their collected tears would show the men how much they were adored and missed.

Out of curiosity, I’ve checked how it looks like. I found out that it is very symbolic and a bit profound. How ironic. It’s beautiful yet its purpose was a bit depressing. No matter how expensive or beautiful it is, it is still made to collect tears.

It became more interesting to me when I found out that tear bottle also appeared in the Bible when King David prayed to God, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8. It was when he was being pursued by Saul on one side and surrounded by Philistines in the city of Goliath on the other. He asked God to remember his tears.

Like King David, there were times in my life that I prayed to God to remember my tears. Have you ever been in a situation when you didn’t know what to pray for? Many times here in Korea, I have found myself kneeling in prayer, broken-hearted and crying a puddle of tears while thinking about my family way back home. I’ve always been so worried about my brother who has been suffering from a blood related disease called ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) for almost two years, and my 86-year old grandmother who was so weak because of many complications.

Tears are silent prayers, they said. I didn’t utter words but my burdens brought me to tears as I talked to God. I was so worried with my family especially with my grandparents. I wanted my grandmother’s suffering to end but I knew it would mean that my grandfather had to live alone. I couldn’t even imagine it for I witnessed how much he loved my grandmother.

I never realized I was worrying too much. I even thought of how God would answer my prayer. Then He showed me that He has His way in answering our prayers, and that would always be for the best, no matter how painful it is.

Early morning on the 18th of December 2013, the day after my grandmother was discharged from the hospital, my grandfather was found on their bed at peace. And since my grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, that saved her from the agony of losing a husband.

I went back to the Philippines and spent most of the time with my family especially with my grandmother. It took a few days for her to remember me again but I ‘m thankful to have spent time with her. After a week, I left with a heavy heart.

We were still grieving for the loss of our grandfather when my grandmother breathed her last several weeks later. I was alone when I heard the news and the only thing that I could do was to cry in prayer.

The Bible provides a lot of promises to comfort us when we are in pain. Yet when we are put into a tough situation, we still have the tendency to ask God why. We doubt, we fail to have the faith, we err, we stumble and sometimes, we fall. I am aware that God won’t give anything we can’t handle but like any other tasks, clinging into God’s promises is easier said than done. No matter how many Bible verses I know, it felt like they weren’t enough.

The only answer that God has given is Jesus. He reminded me the shortest in the entire Bible which says, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). It says that when He saw Mary weeping for her brother who had died, he cried too. That is the same Jesus whom we believe. He completely understands the feeling of a brokenhearted.

I am amazed because of the peace and strength that God’s presence gives. No problem has the capacity to be insurmountable for Him. He is bigger than all the problems that can hit us, and we are not left alone to deal with them. When teardrops begin to fall, surely there must be angels also watching. And God would always send them to comfort the ones who are dear to Jesus’ heart.

King David’s prayer is a remarkable insight into the tender heart of our heavenly Father. He has a tear bottle. Maybe it’s not literal but it made me realize that our Lord sees every tear that falls as He looks from heaven’s portals. He knows each sorrow of our heart and is touched by the feelings of our infirmities. It is so comforting that when we cry, he cries with us. But it is even more comforting that one day, we will be together with Him and there will be no more tears.

I Must Pass the Test

by Shiela Corro

So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away. –  Isaiah 51:11

sheilaAs I was giving a short spelling test for my students, I was wondering why they were smiling at me. Then I found out that most of them were cheating.

I believed that they cheated because they didn’t want to have a hard time studying and they wanted an easier life in answering the test and to pass it.

Like them, most of us want to have an easier, happier, enjoyable life here on earth, away from problems, hardships, and difficulties. But whether we like it or not, we do experience hardships and challenges. As Christians, we encounter different challenges: tests of our faith, relationships with other people, financial problems, illnesses, family problems, disasters, heartaches and many others.

The Lord didn’t tell us that when we obey his commandments and follow his will, we will have an easier life. Life is a constant test for all of us, a test to determine who are strong enough to handle a greater responsibility to rule the earth with God someday.

That’s the reason that we need to have a stronger faith as a shield and protection from all the trials in life. With our goal to live eternally with our Father in Heaven, we need to pass the tests of life. We need to build a strong foundation of our faith so that if adversaries come, we are still able to stand firmly with God.

Remember that we are not citizen’s here on earth for we are citizens of heaven. We must focus on heavenly things which cannot be seen with sinful human eyes. God has a better place for us. Place that has no evening, no pain, no tears and sorrows. There, we will enjoy the happiness more than we’ve ever dreamed.

In His Presence

by Rizamin Urbi

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.- Matthew 4:17

rizaDo you feel a different kind of excitement when you think of heaven? Is to be there the number one in your life’s list of goals? It is in mine and I hope it is in yours as well.

My co-workers in Christ, let us ponder heaven and think of all the good things we look forward to. Then let us decide on how we spend our days so that we can share to others the excitement about God’s love and promises. Most importantly, let us think of the Savior Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for all humanity. Heaven is one thing nobody should miss out on.

Heaven is the place where everything good you ever wish to happen would happen. But the best thing about it is to be with the One who loves us the most –our Savior and King.

Some people start a “relationship” with God with selfish motives. I did. We sometimes call His name only because of what He can give. But how wonderful, merciful and loving our Father is! Through the Holy Spirit, He can transform our selfish hearts. Slowly, He will open our eyes so we could see His unselfish, unconditional love for us. And as we begin to understand how much He loves us, we can’t help but praise Him and love Him even more. It then becomes our hearts’ desire to be with Him and spend time with Him for eternity.

As for me, I want to go to heaven so I can talk with God and spend all the time I have to know Him even more. I want to be in heaven so I can be in His presence because with Him, I’d want nothing more.

The Unfailing Source of Security

By: Rachelle Ann Manalo Fabellon

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Psalm 20:7

379957_3041034201139_1428344580_nHave you ever thought about how wicked and sinful our world has become?

We now live in a world where the devil is everywhere spreading darkness to destroy us.

Every time I check the internet, there’s always bad news—armed robbery, gun attacks, war, rape, murder, earthquake, flooding, etc. There are so much evil out there!

Just last month, I remember how much we prayed for the increasing tension between North and South Korea. Threats of nuclear war caused alarm to us, to our loved ones in the Philippines and to the world. Thus, these days, we need to “Pray without ceasing”. (1 Thess.5:17)

Man_holding_bible-63271We need to commit each day to God. Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”
The only way to be safe is by relying to the unfailing source of security; the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings who has delivered me (and I believe you too) from the “mouth of lions” and kept me safe under His wings. I have proven that His protection is far more reliable than the security alarm system of the three-storey building where I’m staying alone at night. If other means of security fail us, I am certain that God will not! Therefore, at night , we need to acknowledge and give Him praises for keeping us safe throughout the day. And before we sleep, we need to ask Him for the mercies of the night. He knows everything that is going to happen.

Always keep in mind that whenever and wherever you are, our Heavenly Father is the only unfailing source of security and that He is always there watching over you and me till we meet Him!

Excited for THAT Moment

By Dulce Amor Pielago

 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” Revelation 22:7

I and my partners were listening and watching a group of male singers singing gospel songs on the computer while eating our supper. We found one of the members really handsome. While excitedly looking at the screen, I took the box of cake and opened it. I was slowly taking the cake out of the box when suddenly everything was poured out on my shirt. One of my partners exclaimed, “You know? It’s because of you!” (pointing to the screen).
A sudden question popped out of my mind. I asked my partners, “What if Jesus comes? Will we be excited to meet Him? Will we be shouting, “Jesus,I’m here. Look at me. Please sign this picture of you for an autograph.” Then we laughed.

Yes. It sounds funny but true. When we get the chance to see those people we excitedly view on televisions, like our favorite actors and actresses, it seems that our bodies would shake because of excitement. Hearing their voices over radios and televisions make us feel like floating up in the air because of extreme happiness. We play their songs on YouTube or in our playlists over and over again.
Do we think we will feel the same excitement when Jesus comes? Do we take time to read over and over His wonderful promises and reminders in the Bible? Do we take time to listen to His soft voice speaking to us again and again?
Everytime we listen to the song or watch a movie of our favorite actors and actresses, God is over there watching and waiting for us to find time with Him. And He is repeatedly calling us to pay attention to Him. God wants all of us to be excited in seeing Him on that Glorious day. Let’s take time to prepare ourselves for that wonderful moment.

A Prayer to Remember

by Juvy Lou Tamanal

 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…” 1 Timothy 2:1

It was a fine spring day, my first-day class with the middle school students. When I entered the classroom, the students quickly halted their conversations. With a big smile pasted on my face, I greeted them enthusiastically. I asked them to bow their heads, when a girl named ‘Catherine’ defiantly said in class, “I don’t pray and I don’t want to pray.”

Shocked by her words, I immediately asked her to close her eyes, and that she needed not to really pray. “JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES!” Those were the words I struggled to say while I was still contemplating on what to do next. After I offered my prayer to God, I decided to ask each student about their beliefs. Most of them answered, “I don’t believe in God.” “There’s no God.” “We are descendants of apes.” “I only believe in myself…” Dumbfounded by these young souls’ view of our beloved Creator, it was difficult for me to sleep that very night. I was troubled! I grew up as a Christian. I was raised to obey and love God. “How come they don’t believe in God?” I asked myself. Feeling restless that night, I hit my sack with a heavy heart.

Did God see what happened that day in my class? Was He upset by this young people’s defiance against HIM? Ah, my mind was clouded with questions. All I could think was to ask God’s intervention.

Still searching and waiting for something to happen, I found a book that was so inspiring. I felt blessed by this book which is all about the power of intercessory prayers. I decided to write each name of my students in a notebook. I had not done such a thing in my life. I just used to pray for myself, my family and those people who asked me to pray for them. Well, if the writer of that book believed in praying for others would bring miracles, then, it was the right time for me to give it a try.

Nightly, I prayed for each student. Sometimes, I would fall asleep while holding the notebook on which the names of the students were listed. I prayed for their families, their pursuit of English language learning, and that they would open their hearts to listen about God. I prayed that they would see the LIGHT!
I continued to say out loud the prayer before and after each class. Gradually, the students started to pray with me. I slowly brought up the topic of God’s love particularly the creation. At first, silence enveloped the four corners of the classroom. However, day by day, I could see how our loving God was leading these young people to know Him. They began to ask questions, and I patiently answered them.

I was happy with the vivid result that God had shown me. However, it was not that long for Catherine quit coming into my class. I was saddened by the sudden news that the very girl who had a special part of my prayers was gone. I erased her name from my list. After all, a new student had come.
One day, there was a knock at the door. When I opened it, Catherine was standing in front of me. It was almost a year since the last time I saw her. We hugged and smiled to each other. I was glad to hear that she had come to attend my class again. So, I was quite excited that I started to ask her a lot of things when she politely said, “Teacher, let us pray first.” I was speechless!

That night, my heart was filled with thanksgiving and praises to the Lord. He remembered Catherine! He remembered my prayer! Indeed, I learned that God remembers our prayers in the past, our prayers for tomorrow and our prayers even now.

Today, whenever I encounter some doubts and fears in my life, Catherine’s voice is like a sweet melody that keeps its tune helping me cling on Him and His promises. YES, THIS IS A PRAYER TO REMEMBER!
Heavenly Father, we’d like to thank you for always remembering our prayers, though there are times when we fail to recognize your will and love for us each day. Help us to never cease trusting and loving You. Amen.

ECKCians Long to be Responsible Watchmen

Twenty-eight missionaries gathered during the Midterm Spiritual Retreat of the East Central Korean Conference last September 28-30 in Deer Mountain, Cheongpyeong, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. The theme, “Watchman: Blow the Gospel Trumpet,” was based on the text found in Ezekiel 3:15-21. The said spiritual revival of the missionaries was supervised by the ECKC Youth Director Ptr Kim Giyoung and programs were coordinated by representatives from its sub-territories, the ECKC1 and ECKC2 respectively. During the Opening Program, Pastor Choi Hoyoung KUC Youth Director gave a message about working in the Lord’s vineyard. Then, the missionaries had a wonderful time experiencing the act of humility by washing each other’s feet beside the river bank in the cool of the night. “It’s my first time to experience such an activity. Being closer to nature gives me more opportunity to meditate and humble myself before my Creator,” said one of the attendees. Communion service followed after the foot-washing.

Before the sun rose in the cool Sabbath morning, the missionaries gathered within their small group for the GT. It was focused on the theme, “Watchman: Blow the Gospel Trumpet.” Through the deep study of the topic, missionaries were able to feel the urgency of the calling to be  watchmen of God. Part of it was a 45-minute meditation and prayer where missionaries looked for a place to commune with God. Others went to the river bank and knelt on the rock while meditating with the music produced by the flowing river, cool breeze and chirping birds.

In the Sabbath School, selected missionaries presented their CV Project, “My Story My Song.” Others gave their testimonies, too. They were so inspired by the testimonies that some of them had teary eyes while listening. During the Hour of Worship, Pastor Choi Hoyoung, the guest speaker, continued his presentation about working in the Lord’s vineyard.

The pre-AY Program was celebrated in The Garden of the Morning Calm where missionaries had a glimpse of the gift of God through nature enhanced by man. The program proper followed at the outdoor amphitheater of Deer Mountain Church under the pines. There, missionaries’ talents were rendered by different batches. The director of the 1000 Missionary Movement, Pastor Park Kwangsu also gave a short encouragement message with the tag line, “If you want to go fast, walk alone but if you want to go further, walk together.”

The Midterm Missionary Retreat of the ECKC closed after the giving of certificates and tokens. Celebrations of its success followed in the evening with lots of fun games, surprises, jokes and food.

The missionaries of the ECKC went back to their respective mission fields bringing with them the Light to share with the world as watchmen of God.