Sunday, January 31, 2010

Linking above

Each year must begin with a time of prayer and fasting. To seek forgiveness for past sins. To allow God to purify the heart. To ask for God’s direction.

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The week-long prayer and fasting was helpful. It is the only way to start the year right.

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One of the disciplines in my faith walk that I found difficult to learn is prayer.

When I was younger, I’ve had moments when I would fall asleep while a passionate soul would pray for more than 10 minutes. I have to confess that I sometimes felt like banging my head against the wall (or table) because I couldn’t bear the long wait. I felt guilty for not being faithful enough to muster the required attention. I felt inadequate that I could not pray as long as the others nor be as eloquent as they could.

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In my interaction with other believers and groups, I have learned to appreciate an intimate conversational style of prayer. To pair up with one person (or 2) and each one would utter a few sentences of prayer. In fact, it is more like a ping-pong style of prayer. Back and forth, back and forth, until we have mentioned all the items to be prayed for. I can concentrate and agree on whatever the other person would say. This also allows me to remember the things that have been prayed for and just focus my thoughts on the next topic to be lifted to God. The intimate setting allows me to be open to say what God is leading me to say. And most importantly, I am still awake at the end of the prayer time.

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My personal style of prayer is simple. I just talk to God whatever comes to my head. I say simple words. I sometimes forget the words I would like to say and even things I wanted to pray for. So I just pray whenever I remember something I need to bring to God. Any time all day.

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Corporate prayer is very different, I have learned. There should be structure. There should be preparation. Our Father is a God of order. But we should also be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit as He gives us the words to utter.

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It’s going to be a prayer year.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

My first love

I will always remember 2009 as the year I first fell in love. I wish I could say that it ended happily. It did not. Tears flowed. Hearts got hurt. Goodbyes were said.

The journey of heartache was difficult. I still wish that it didn’t have to happen but I now value what the experience taught me. Truly, there is no greater learning than that which we go through ourselves. It is more real and the lessons learned would remain unforgotten.

I came face to face with my tendency to seek validation from another person. It was completely wrong. I should only seek this from God. And so I learned, the hard way, my real value. I matter to God. He loves me so much that He chose to die for me. He forgives me and He showers me with His mercy. There is no need to find meaning through another person’s approval, affection or devotion. I have found that in God.

My friend wisely told me that at least I now know I am capable of loving another person. Though I prayed and dreamed about having that special someone, it was often hard to imagine how it would happen. I was afraid to risk my heart and be vulnerable. I hid behind my mantra of waiting for God’s will while maintaining my distance from interactions and relationships with men. Because of what happened, I am sometimes afraid of risking my heart again. What for? For another measure of pain and tears? But I am refusing to be bowed down by my fears, imagined and real, because there is that possibility that God would allow me to find the promise He has reserved for me. And even if I do not find an earthly mate, I know that my heavenly groom awaits me.

The best insight? I got a glimpse of what God feels when we reject Him as He offers His love to us. Only now could I fully understand how I daily break His heart and the longing He feels when I disobey Him and do not love Him in return. I repeat, I got a glimpse. For the love I offered was not unconditional and selfless. His is perfect. There is no comparison. Somehow though, I can fully appreciate the extent of God’s love and grace. And be more thankful by trying to know and love Him more.

Yes, I fell in love and got my heart broken. I needed God’s refining. I had to find my meaning in Him. I needed to see and appreciate His perfect love for me. Through the months of pain, many only saw my smiling lips and cheerful face. Some probed the reason for my blooming image. They didn’t know. I was falling in love all over again. To the one who deserved to be loved first of all.

I still dream that someday God would allow me to fall in love again with the man He has chosen for me. I would be wiser then. But when I look back to 2009, I would remember how by having my heart broken, I finally found my place in God's loving embrace.

Lion Chaser Manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (