The Call To Love And Obey

When my husband and I were called to serve in the ministry of the Worldwide Church of God eight years ago, I did not accept it wholeheartedly. In my mind and heart I reasoned that I did not get my education and corporate job experiences to become a pastor’s wife. It was not a “job” I looked forward to nor the “ministry” or mission I was sure God had intended for me.

I was wrong. This calling into the ministry was, in fact, the field where God would reveal His personal mission for me. And Mr. Sidney (then WCG’s Regional Director) voiced it out when he said to me: “The only expectation from you as a pastor’s wife is to love God and to love and support your husband. Your ministry will flow out of that love.” Those words have had the greatest impact on me starting out as a reluctant pastor’s wife and have given me unbelievable comfort and assurance that God will work it all out.

God has given us all a mission in this life we need to do regardless of our age, health condition, status in life, preferences, abilities, talents or gifts. Maybe we are not all called to a high-profile or front-end mission like leading the church in worship singing, or speaking to large groups, or writing Christian bestsellers, or being sent out into the mission field, or even holding a high and influential position in a church or organization. But we are called to a universal and Christ-commanded mission. There are no exceptions to this mission and we have no excuses.

It is a mission we cannot say “no” to if we claim to be Christ’s servants and followers. It is a lifetime mission that is the root from which all our other missions spring forth, and it is perhaps, the most difficult mission for all of us to do. It is the mission and call to love and obey.

It was obedience that led Christ to the cross (Philippians 2:8 – Christ “humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!”) and it was love that kept him there – love for the Father and love for each one of us. If we claim to be Jesus Christ’s followers, then as chapter 2 of Philippians reminds us, our attitude should be the same as his, nothing less.

Three whole chapters of 1 John (3-5) talk about love, what it really means and what it entails. Many times we are strongly reminded to love our brethren precisely because it is very difficult to do so. It is not in our nature to love the way Christ loves us. That’s why we need to get on our knees every single day and ask God to shed his love abroad in our hearts. And we need to ask God to make us obey him (I John 5:3 – “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome). And what is his command? To “believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” (I John 3:23)

There will always be people who don’t like us and it may make our task in ministry or anywhere else more difficult and challenging. But that’s okay. In the same way, there will always be people we don’t exactly like or want to hang out with based on personality differences, and that’s okay too. But it is not okay for us to not love each other. It is against God’s very nature and command for us and we sin when we don’t love.

I John 4:20 “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” Can we honestly say that we love our sister beside us, in front of us or behind us? Can we honestly say that we esteem them more highly than ourselves and that their interests are more important than ours (Philippians 2:3-4)?

Those are strong words. If we truly want to please God, then we need to obey him – and we need to love him and those whom he loves. No amount of ministry work, no amount of praise from people and no amount of sacrifice can ever please God if it is not rooted in love and obedience. I can continue convincing myself of all the “I shoulds”: I should read more chapters of my Bible everyday, I should evangelize more people, I should write more articles, I should spend 10 hours everyday “doing ministry”, etc., but if they are not rooted in love and obedience, they are useless to God. (Read or cite examples from 1 Corinthians 13.)

So the next question we need to ask ourselves is this: Is it enough that only God knows? Is it enough that he knows and sees our struggle inside to love and obey him in everything we do? Is it enough that God knows our sacrifice and no one else?

For those of us who are homemakers, maybe our husbands or children will never notice that our house or bathroom is always clean and tidy, or that there is always cooked food on the table, or that there are always clean and pressed clothes to wear, or that our homes are running efficiently. If this is our God-given mission at this time, is it enough that only God knows?

For those of us whose God-given mission is to pray for others constantly as prayer warriors (although we are all commanded to pray), whose knees are scarred from hours of praying and whose hearts bleed for those who suffer – is it enough that only God knows?

For those of us whose names are often forgotten in the mission fields of China, Africa, Vietnam and other parts of the world, is it enough that God knows?

Can we deny ourselves the recognition and praise from others? Is it enough that God knows and that he has promised to reward us?

Let us not be discouraged. Most of us will never have a highly visible mission or ministry. Most of us may just need to exercise God’s love within a physically “smaller” field – within our families, our neighborhood, our circle of friends or the people God sends to us to mentor one-on-one and minister to. Most of us may be full-time homemakers for the rest of our borrowed lives and may never get the chance to be “recognized” in public. But all of us will need to carry out the same mission – the mandate to love and obey.

And as we do so, God will lead us to more opportunities to serve him in ways that will even surprise us. And he will always lead us to a mission or mission field that is best suited to the personality, talents and gifts he has generously bestowed upon us. It is always a perfect match, whether we recognize it or not. God is never wrong. We need to be patient, though, because it may take time. And God will always encourage us when we need it most.

To end, I have always asked God why he has placed me where I am and why he has given me the tasks and responsibilities I have. And many times I would feel that I am not “doing enough” for him or that what he has asked me to do is too much for me. But every time a young person is baptized at SEP and I am allowed the privilege of serving and praying for that soul and witnessing his/her salvation, I am reminded of my purpose and mission in this life. I may see the same footage/video over and over of a young person being submerged in the water, but I am always moved to tears by God’s mercy and grace upon me and every soul saved. I am overwhelmed by God’s love for each and every young person and I am humbled by the privilege God gives me to participate in HIS great work. It is HIS work after all, and HIS mission. I only need to surrender to him by loving and obeying him – and he will do the rest. He will carry out his mission through me according to his perfect will.

May our Lord and Master lead us everyday into his love, obedience and his mission for each of us,

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I Don’t Have A Hat!

Come and listen, all you who fear God;

let me tell you what he has done for me.

I cried out to him with my mouth;

his praise was on my tongue.

 

If I had cherished sin in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened;

But God has surely listened

and heard my voice in prayer.

 

Praise be to God,

who was not rejected my prayer

or withheld his love from me!

 

Psalm 66: 16-20

 

I was in third grade, at the top of my class, and class president to boot! My mom was one of the most respected high school teachers in the school where my sister and I went, so you could say we held some clout in those days.

It was the Christmas season, a very special time of the year where we come from, so there was to be a school celebration. Each class was expected to perform a very special number in the school grounds. My class practiced a routine for many weeks and we were all feeling rather confident and excited for the big day.

But what really got us going was the costume! It was our chance to be out of our dreary school uniforms and in our best Christmas clothes. While we were given the freedom to wear whatever we wanted, as long as it was special and appropriate for the occasion, we all had to wear a red had with a white pompom at the top – something Santa would wear, I suppose.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I was at the top of my class, so the assumption is that I was pretty bright, right? I thought so, too, then, except that for some unexplainable reason, I missed that last requirement. Was I absent from class when our teacher told us to wear red hats with pompoms or was I simply not listening at that time? I am still wondering to this day.

The day of our performance came and I went to school in a very special blue denim-type dress, with red piping on the sleeves and collar. I designed it myself and it was sewn by my grandmother on the condition that I pull out as much of her white hair as I could in a few days. I know, it was not a cheap dress.

As I entered our classroom, I began to notice all the red hats with white pompoms. They were just made out of red board, shaped into a cone, because ready-made Santa hats were not yet available to us in those days. I asked my classmates why they had it and if I needed to have one too. I eventually told my teacher that I didn’t have one, and while she was very kind, I started to feel panic rising in my chest and some tears welling up in my eyes. I was class president and I didn’t have a hat! I was so embarrassed!

I remember asking God then to give me a hat. My mom had already taught me how to pray as a very young child and I knew who Jesus was to me in my very young mind. I also remember finally giving way to tears after that short prayer and running the seemingly endless road to the high school faculty room where my mom was. When I finally reached her, I cried my heart out and told her that I needed a red hat with a pompom, and that I needed it soon. The program was about to start and my class had already formed a line at the school grounds. I was not only late, I was not even going to make it!

After drying up my tears and giving me much needed comfort, my mom called some of her best students and asked me to describe the hat to them. To make the very long story really short, I had my hat. It was red, it had white pompoms at the top, and it fit me just right. And I performed the routine with my classmates, smiling, as my mom watched proudly from a distance.

Pinky Winky

He will not let your foot slip –

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

 

The Lord watches over you –

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.

 

The Lord will keep you from all harm –

he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

 

Psalm 121: 3-8

 

Remember those cute pillow dolls (stuffed dolls, as they are referred to now) a lot of us five or six-year-old kids got for Christmas or for our birthday sometime in the ‘70s? Okay, let me just clarify that I am 38 years old so I’m speaking mostly to those my age.

I remember vividly that my older sister got a Little Red Riding Hood doll – yes, the one that got lost in the forest and almost got eaten by a wolf. It had an almost round face (most of those dolls had that “almost round face”), a bright red hooded coat, and a book on its chest made from the same fabric. What really fascinated me at that age, and caused a little bit of envy, was that the “book” on its chest had around five fabric pages which we could actually flip through!

Each page had one popular nursery rhyme printed on it and some illustrations as well. My sister and I had a lot of fun with Miss Riding Hood and we learned and memorized our first few nursery rhymes from her very red and ample bosom. And yes, this is a very wholesome, if not literal, description.

I, on the other hand, got a Pinky Winky doll. I guess from the name alone you would surmise that it was a pink doll – and it was. It also had the same almost round face as Miss Riding Hood’s, but instead of a book, it wore a robe that simply overlapped. And instead of nursery rhymes, it contained two short prayers.

Now you need to understand that for a very impressionable five or six-year-old, the more “accessories” a toy had, the “better” it was. My Pinky WInky did not have a book with pages I could flip nor did it have any fun nursery rhymes. Needless to say, I felt that I got the raw end of the deal and didn’t exactly relish memorizing prayers. One of the prayers went this way:

Angel of God, my guardian dear

To whom God’s love commits me here

Ever this day, be at my side

To light and guard

To rule and guide

Amen.

The other prayer is one that many parents teach their kids to this day.

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord, my soul to keep

And if I should die before I wake

I pray the Lord, my soul to take.

Our dear mom faithfully prayed these prayers with me and my sister before we went to bed each night. In the course of praying them daily, we eventually memorized them. Bedtime rituals were not complete without saying these prayers as we knelt by our beds, with our tiny hands clasped tightly, our heads bowed and our eyes shut.

Those prayers became a source of comfort to us and brought us peace and many sweet dreams in our sleep. I distinctly remember reading the prayers over and over even after praying them. I somehow found solace in reciting them and looking at the drawings that accompanied them – drawings of angels and a child in bed by an open window, with the moon and stars shining through. And eventually, I learned to cherish my Pinky Winky and lovingly tucked her in bed with me every night.

Did God answer those prayers? I believe He did! And even now as I remember these things, I know that God has, indeed, guided and guarded me (my sister and our parents, too) all these years. Our Lord has been watching over us and has promised to always keep us in His care. And His answer to our childhood prayers wields power that transcends time! Yes, God’s answer to our prayers then is as relevant and powerful today as it was when He first gave it.

Both our parents have since gone to heaven and I know that their spirits are kept safe in God’s hands. My sister and I have also accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior when we were still in our teens. Our futures are secure despite the physical circumstances that may say otherwise, and our lives now are deeply hinged within the Master’s framework.

If I should die before I wake, I know the Lord, my soul will take.

Heavy-Weight Issues

My husband and I enjoy people-watching. No, not the kind that invades other people’s privacy or makes them feel uneasy at being watched and leered at. We are interested in people; in their behavior, in how they dress and in their philosophies in life that cause them to speak, act and express themselves in certain ways. You could say we also desire to understand people more, because there is always more (in people) than meets the eye.

We have observed in the past couple of years that more and more Filipinos have become overweight, and even downright obese. We remembered those times when an obese person would stand out in a crowd because there were very few of them. There would even be times when we could go one whole day in a mall and not encounter a single overweight person!

This is not to say that we are belittling people who have weight issues. We are, in fact, more concerned at the fact that more Filipinos seem to be losing the battle with obesity. The temptation to go for fast, easy and greasy food is too difficult to resist. The urge to lead a sedentary life in an air-conditioned room facing a television or computer monitor all day is just too easy to give in to. And the cost of gym memberships is not very appealing to a young professional who would rather go for snacks with friends than spend an hour sweating in an expensive gym.

I remember feeling distinctly proud of our people and our country for staying fit and healthy despite the physical and financial challenges that beset us as a nation. I remember being shocked at the fact that most Americans are obese and not at all what Hollywood portrays them to be most of the time.

Times have changed, and drastically! Many children in our country start out their lives overweight and don’t know any better, until other kids start teasing them and adults callously comment on their chubbiness. A lot of ladies wear skinny low-rise jeans that highlight their belly fat and give rise to the term “muffin top”. This not-so-pleasant site is ubiquitous in malls and restaurants, and many will be seen with a super-sized soda and extra large fries.

This has got to stop and we need to start taking better care of our health. Obesity not only damages us physically, it also leaves a scar on us emotionally and psychologically. Let us more actively seek help and pray for the strength to make a change. It is not impossible to get back on the health track. Let us start preparing healthful meals, avoiding fast food as much as we can, and walking more than we sit. A little goes a long way.

But we need to start now.

A big hello!

Welcome to my site! I love to write and venues like this encourage the habit even more. Thanks to the ever changing technology, thoughts can now be shared with a network of like-minded folks. ‘Hope you enjoy your visit.