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.

Shouts and Craze

by: Mark Lester Dondonay

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 NASB

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Lee Minho (이민호) is a famous Asia’s superstar from South Korea. One of his most watched dramas is “F4 (Boys over Flower)” in 2009 which was taped in English Village, an English school run by Korean SDA institution. The most recent drama is “The Heir” which captured TV viewers not only in South Korea but in other Asian countries like Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, China and Thailand. People religiously watched every episode released.

            As this famous drama was aired, I was one of the lucky ones to watch the shooting held in the city where I’m working as a missionary.

            It was a fine day. Even though it’s winter but it was not really cold. So I decided to go jogging in the morning. When I was going back to my apartment, I saw many people congesting near the intersection. At first, I thought there was an accident. I came to see what actually was happening. I pushed to the crowd. To my surprise, there were cameras, tripods, artificial rain, big reflectors and etc. “There must be a taping here,” I said. Out of curiosity, I waited for a little longer. Nobody could explain to me the real situation because not anyone could speak English. I just presumed actors must be famous to have many bystanders around.

            After a while, people started shouting and young ladies were giggling. I saw a man wearing a white overcoat. I wondered, “Who is he?” Onlookers started taking pictures of him secretly. Staffs around forbade them to take photos of the set but I got several photos of him and his leading lady, Jinhye Park. Although I didn’t know them, yet I felt like I was star struck. Later, I know that it was the famous Lee Minho. That was because I saw three students of mine rushing to see the taping of the scene when I decided to go back to my place. They skipped classes just to see their idols.

             The drama, “The Heir” was already finished but people still keep on talking about the story. I’ve only watched episode 17 where I was able to eyewitness the making of one of its scenes but I didn’t even finish it. I found the story addicted and maybe it’s the reason why people got stuck to it.

             Later that day, I posted a picture of Lee Minho on ‘Facebook’ that hit so many likes and comments. My friends were interested to talk about it. What was my feeling when I saw him, how does he look like, what was my reaction, is Jinhye Park beautiful were just among the many questions of my friends online.

            Nowadays, people are hooked to many forms of entertainment. Invite them to come to church and they would rather go to a movie theatre. Tell them to attend a free evangelistic meeting and they would rather choose to spend hundreds or even thousands of pesos to watch the concert of their celebrity idols. Ask them to study the Bible and they’ll feel sleepy. Give them link to access online programs of the 3ABN or Hope Channel and they’d rather spend most of their time surfing the net and associating friends in social media. There are a lot more to mention. To conclude, we spend most of our time on things that could give us temporal happiness. How long should we be blinded to it?

I’m not exempted to things I cited above. I also am a victim of the so-called pleasures of the world. Satan is subtly creeping into our souls by the use of these entertainments.

Do you have a laptop? How about a smart phone or an ipad or ipod? Is there a TV set in your home or an entertainment room? Can you access to wifi 24/7? These gadgets are not bad. They can be used as media to spread the Gospel of God. However, these tools are also used by Satan to degrade our spirituality. We don’t bow down to statues or images above, on or below earth but are these things considered idols? Yes, they are. Are we aware of it? Yes, we do but we neglect because we are enjoying. How much time do we spend in reading and praying every day? Let’s ask ourselves this common question again.

Idolatry is not only worshipping the graven images or so. It is depriving ourselves the time supposed to have communion with our God, the One who can give us everlasting happiness. Are you a victim? No, we are victims.

There’s No Such Thing as Fairy Tale

By: Lorilei Flores

Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

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When I was a kid, I was fond of watching fairy tales and I even dreamed that when I would become a lady, I’d have my name changed to Cinderella since she was my favorite character. My young mind back then was blown by those fantasies being the fairest of all the ladies in the land, respected by all kinds of people, sitting on an elegant throne, and wearing exquisite dresses. I loved dwelling on those things! But only those things that were favorable in the life of a princess like Cinderella.

Then I grew up as a lady and have forgotten about my silly dream of imitating my favorite character’s name and lifestyle. I have lived in the realm of reality and have totally lived a life of satisfaction in the service of my God. I have engaged in missionary works and have gained confidence that I can do things through Him who gives me strength. I have served for a year on a mission field where I sensed the real meaning of being a co-worker of God–being able to minister to the needs of the people around us and being able to lead some of them to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. So then, because I have seen how God had been faithful to me during that year of service, I accepted His calling for me to serve in a foreign land for another year. I reached Korea having the thought that God would certainly use me as an effective missionary teacher since I knew that I would be an English teacher here and would deal with children most of the time.

On the first few months of my stay, I knew I was an English teacher. I taught English on a tutorial basis and I felt fulfilled with what I was accomplishing.

Time passed and something started to shake my peace. My “mother” would interrupt my class and would ask me to clean somewhere or help out in the kitchen. I just did it without complaining. It happened about countless times making me a teacher-turned-helper in the Center and even in their house. I then felt like I was on the state of mild regression remembering my favorite childhood fairy tale character–that her life didn’t start out as princess anyway. She was mistreated by her wicked stepmother and two evil stepsisters. Feeling some sort of depression, I viewed this family I was living with exactly like those wicked characters in the life of Cinderella, and I was Cinderella.

I was living the life of my favorite character but not the one I dreamed of, because it was definitely the opposite. I felt degraded.

For a time, I tried not to look at my situation like that of Cinderella’s. From fantasy I pivoted back to reality and recalled how God worked in my life in the past, trusting that He would help me get through it as well. I cast my cares on God and eagerly put much time in having constant connection with Him. He guided me to escape the fairy tale mode I was in.

Through prayers I have learned to view and react to negative situations positively. I have learned to apply the known 90/10 rule: that is, 10% of what’s happening around you is inevitable yet the 90% will be determined by your reaction to that certain situation. I have also witnessed that the God who helped me before during my trying times is the same God who helped me in my recent predicament.

Months later, I was able to live apart from the family whom I was staying with at first. A male helper is now working in the Center and so I’m back to being a teacher. God’s blessings never left me wanting. God knows the very lessons I need to learn in my life’s walk with Him. I never should have aimed for the life Cinderella lived, because I know that I really am a princess of the King of kings in that Heavenly home.

Annoyed? Take a Deep Breath.

By: Mark Lester Dondonay

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 1 Corinthians 9:25

 

599966_502565953101992_82609065_nAs we wake up every day, challenges are already waiting to test our faith and trust in God. How do we handle different challenges of the day? There are times when suddenly, you feel like giving up because of the unexpected things that are happening. How should we react to them? When situations like these go along the way, we are discouraged to push through things and lost the enthusiasm to finish the things we started right. What do you do when you experience things that will let your spirit downto the level of despair? How can you find hope in stress and distress?
Working as a missionary teacher here Korea for almost two years made me learn things which I never learned before. I will share with you how I handle challenges in my field of work, a missionary of God in the classroom.
One is to be patient. Teaching high school, middle school and elementary students is a great challenge. I am to live in the shadow of God’s wisdom or else everything would be in vain. How would I introduce Christ to my students? They would complain and would not even do the proper way of praying. To be patient is not only to endure the bad things happening in the classroom such as students’ misbehaviors but to show them the Christian way of handling classroom problems.
Another is to be temperate. Controlling my temper makes me think of Christ and how He faced all religious critics who put Him to death.  Holding temper in the class is very important. It helps me think and understand the moment a student will misbehave. It reminds me the way I was during my student life. It proves me that nagging students will only cause fear to the younger ones and unruliness to the adolescents.
How about trust? Yes, I do have learned giving my trust not only to God but to my students. I let them feel that I trust them; that they can do things which they think they could not do. In this way, they would build up self-confidence. As for me, I’m able to understand the “whys” that are creeping in my mind. These questions would just ruin my day if I won’t trust the One who allows every problem for my spiritual advancement. As Job said, “Should we only accept good things from God?”

Lastly, I have learned to tell God my concerns after undesirable things that happen in the classroom. Praying earnestly is the most comforting moment. Praying for my students is the least thing that I can do for God is the one to do great things for me. I could not change my students’ behavior toward me but God can. I take courage from Him every time my students disappoint me because of their behavior.
Patience, temperateness, trusts in God and earnest prayers are not only effective in the classroom but also in situations where someone provokes you. As you trod the way to a successful day, think of the promises of God. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) No matter what happens, He will always be there.

A Love like Christ’s

By: Darlyn Mae Gupit

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)

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It was  in 2005 when I chose to run away from the place where all my hopes of becoming the bride of the man of my dreams had been shattered into pieces. My journey had been very tiring, having no sense of direction.

About six long and exhausting years of searching for something that could fill up the emptiness within was in vain. I spent most of my time on movies and dramas and would rather go to school the following day without sleep as long as I could finish watching them. I didn’t like the company of my fellow missionaries because I felt so terribly different. I enjoyed accumulating things that I thought would define my worth and importance which led to unimaginable debts. All my relationships were a mess whether with my students, church members, family, friends and fellow missionaries. And the worst part was, I thought everything was fine because I was still praying, reading my Bible once in a while, joining church activities and attending missionary programs. Until my Lover, Savior, Father and Best Friend came to rescue  me, a sinner.

March of 2011 marks the turning point of my life when I chose to allow Jesus Christ to take my heart, crush it and reshape it for His glory. It was then that my eyes were opened to the greatest need of my existence–His love–a love that covers a multitude of sins and gives absolute assurance of complete healing through unexplainable painful situations my finite mind could possibly bear.

The Potter is not yet finished with the remolding process but one thing is certain–the hand that is holding the clay were wounded because of His great love for me.

Hope Amidst the Storm

By Melvin Baclay

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

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Homes razed to the ground. Lifeless bodies littered amid piles of rubble. Mothers wailing and mourning for the loss of their children. Hungry people helplessly walking, looking for food and water to survive. This is just an obscure picture of what we could see in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Nightmare becomes a more pleasant word and to say that a storm struck the country is an understatement.

With all this, skeptics could easily ask, “Where’s God?” And unbelievers have just added one more reason for them not to believe.

But for the faithful ones, they understand.

They understand the impermanence of earthly life, earthly homes, earthly treasures.

They understand that anything can happen even to the faithful because even Job who was blameless before God lost everything except his life.

They understand that God’s love and His existence can’t just be disproved by unpleasant circumstances because they too are parts of life and have their own purpose.

They understand that some “whys” can be left unanswered for they know that not everything are meant to be fully understood by our limited minds; some things are meant to be put inside our baggage of faith.

They understand that at times, we lose loved ones in more painful ways. But there’s undying hope in their hearts of that glorious morning when lives will be restored and loved ones reunited.

Also, they understand that sometimes, it takes pain to feel God’s comfort, bruises to know He heals and brokenness to know that He restores.

And finally, they understand that “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28, KJV). For they believe that “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (NIV).