Broken to be Made Whole

broken to be made whole

Shame sometimes gets the best of me but I’ve learned that God allows us to be broken so we can be made whole again. He doesn’t hurt us directly but He allows us to experience pains and heartaches for us to learn and become even stronger.

God’s proof of love is not always material blessings. The best proof of His magnificent love is that while we were still sinners, He sent His beloved Son to die for our sins. He spared His own Son for our deliverance.

Remember that you are special. You are a treasure in God’s eyes.

Yield your lives to His control and see that He can use your responsibilities, relationships, ridicule… obstacles and obligations…problems, pressures, and pains….solitude, sickness, and success— everything for His glory. All those can be used for your ultimate good. (Romans 8:28)

Whenever you feel that the enemy is taking over your life, rebuke it. Remember that the enemy has already been defeated. Whatever we are being confronted right now is just the twitching. Someday, the enemy will completely be destroyed. Anyway, Jesus left with us the Holy Spirit to guide us and be our Counselor–to be able to face the enemy.

But for us to be empowered and able to face all challenges, we must learn to rest on His Word and abide in His presence. This will come as a result of worshiping Him in spirit and in truth—by giving Him worth through praise, preoccupation with Him, and obedience to God. No tradition nor ritual could substitute your adoration to God. You can come to Him directly. He is always available, accessible, and attentive too.

Obey God without any questions, procrastination, and hesitation. Do everything just as God commanded you. Fill your heart with Jesus and He will come out of your lips.

“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.”
Romans 8:28

 

Keeping Christ in Christmas: Jesus is the Reason for the Season

“I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints, Truly Rich Mom, and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We’ll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

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Majority of people around the world are counting the days ’til Christmas. Everyone I know is already on holiday mode, looking forward to last-minute shopping, wrapping gifts, doing the grocery, cooking, dressing up, and finally celebrating that  special day when everyone is expected to share more love than usual.

For us Christians, we know the reason for Christmas. That is–the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But do us people who can celebrate Christmas still think and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas? Admit it, most of us get excited about the coming holidays because of the 13th month pay, for some extra Christmas bonus, the thrill of decorating, the cool breeze, the chance to dress up, and a week-long vacation for some. Christmas has become too commercialized that even Christians take for granted the real meaning of the season. We know it, yes, but we do not make it a priority.

CHRIST is the Reason for This Season.

Christmas is a time of commemorating the birth of Christ. And who is this Christ? Jesus, the Messiah. The Savior and Lord of the fallen world. God, the Father, sent His one and only Son, to give us an everlasting life, because He loves us so much (John 3:16).

Jesus became man to do the Father’s will (John 6:38).   Christ came to this world to be our salvation. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Sin has its consequence and that is death but God loves us so much that He has given us eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Man has become separated from God but there is Jesus–the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:16). It is only through Jesus that we can come to the Father and be reunited with Him in heaven. It is by His grace that we have been saved, through faith, and not because of who we are or what we have done, but because it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Oh what a beautiful gift! The Gift of Salvation which started on a manger one holy night in Bethlehem. It may be hard to fathom that the King’s Son came to this world, born in manger, to a young but faithful and obedient couple, Mary and Joseph. But because God loves us, He offered Jesus to give us eternal life. God’s Plan of Salvation started on Christmas day.

Christmas is the time we can declare louder that “Jesus is Lord”. God’s plan of salvation calls us to believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead for us to be saved. Not by our good works or the amount of money we give to the church as offering, but our hearts who believe, and with our mouth that we profess our faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).

The essence of Christmas is CHRIST. Christianity is about being a follower of Jesus Christ. Him alone and no one else. Holidays may be the best time to preach this Good News–that a sinner can be made free and righteous through our faith in Jesus Christ. But really, we must make every season an opportunity to share His love not just to those who are closest to us, but also to those people we think are not deserving. God’s love is unconditional and that is the kind of love we should also be giving.

As Christian parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children The Greatest Story Ever Told. Christmas is a perfect opportunity for us to teach our young ones our faith. As a mom to a 3-year old, I need to make sure that my son recognizes that we have Christ in our family. This year is his fourth Christmas but it’s only now that he can begin to understand what Christmas is all about.

And how do we that?

(1) We tell him The Story of Christmas. What better way to get him interested in listening to us tell the story of Jesus Birth than this LEGO Christmas Story book.

The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids

We’re not robbing him off the joy of getting to know Santa Claus but as early as now, we’re not teaching Noah that gifts come from Santa Claus. We’re not gonna lie to him about Santa Claus and we’re not gonna make him believe that he is real. Instead, we’re trying to teach him who Jesus is by reading him The Christmas Story and praying with him.

Our son may still not fully grasp the meaning of Christmas but it’s not too early to build a foundation of faith. The faith we have will be the greatest heritage we could leave him. It’s only by God’s grace that we can be the kind of parents God wants us to be.

(2) This is the first time we’ve set up a Belen at home. My mom gave me this wooden Nativity scene that was previously owned by my sister’s mom-in-law. More than the beauty of this wood sculpture is the story behind it– the birth of our Savior.

Displaying this Nativity scene is another opportunity where we can share the story of Christmas to our son.

(3) Simplifying Christmas is another way that we remain true to the Reason of the Season. We only have few decors this year at home and most of them are DIY Christmas Decors and because we decided on a Spend-less Holiday.I mentioned this already but  you see during Christmas time, people tend to be selfish and excited with the gifts that they would receive. Christmas isn’t about the “I” (that’s you and me) receiving gifts but it’s about celebrating the Real Reason for this Season– His name is JESUS.  This year, we’re going thrifty by not spending too much on gifts. Some of the gifts I prepared are even handmade and personalized. I think gifts become more special that way.

(4) Since Christmas is also a time of giving, we’ll be giving away Noah’s old but usable toys to other kids. I’ve already sorted his toys and clothes but haven’t decided on whom to give to or where to bring them. We also intend to give some of my and husband’s clothes to people who need them more. We both work from home so we don’t really need a lot of clothes.

(5) Kids are welcome. Christmas Caroling is one tradition of Filipinos during Christmas. Some cities in the metro may have banned Christmas carolers in the streets but I feel we need to keep this tradition especially for the kids. I am excited for Noah to be the one to give coins to the kids. We’ve started as early as the first week of December actually. I’ve prepared coins and some candies and chocolates to give. Kids are welcome to sing in front of our house but of course, I still have to be careful and wise in giving. As much as possible, I take note of the kids’ faces so we know we’re not being fooled. I know giving and sharing must be from the heart and without any questions but we still need to exercise wisdom. If other houses are shooing these kids away, our family will try our best to at least give them something. I’m not promising that we will give to every kid who comes our way but we will try our best to be more kind, loving, and understanding.

(6) For this month, our church pastor’s sermons are focused on Experiencing God. Last Sunday, our church choir gave a very beautiful musical presentation entitled “Experiencing God” by Gary Rhodes and Clare Cloninger  based on the Experiencing God book by Henry Blackaby. We wanted Noah to join the children’s choir but we weren’t able to bring him to the practices. We’ve been playing the song “My Abba’s Child” for him to sing along since September. He knows the song but it’s been a busy working December for my husband and I so we regret that we weren’t able to have him join. It would have been nice and heartwarming to see Noah up there like when his dad and I used to do when we were still part of the Children’s Church. He only got to join one practice but that was enough to make me cry.

Next year, we’ll see to it that he joins the presentation. By then, we hope that he understands that singing for God is one way of worshiping Him. For now, we’ll continue playing Christmas songs and letting him sing along with us.

(7) Christmas parties are inevitable. Others may get excited in all the food they can partake or all the booze they can finish but for us Christians, it’s important that we celebrate in more meaningful ways. Parties are opportunities to connect with friends and relatives. Use such time to relate with people on a more personal level. Do away with the gossip and senseless fun. Criticisms, hatred, and envy should have no place if you want to keep Christ this Christmas and every season of your life.

On Christmas Eve, we’ll celebrate just the three of us at home, just like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We’ll use that time as another opportunity to experience God as a family who loves and worships the Lord. This is a tradition we intend to keep.

Here’s another song recorded by my husband:


What Child is This

What Child is this, who laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here,
The silent Word is pleading.
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Full Lyrics HERE

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth.
Philippians 2:8-10

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Here are the links to the other blog carnival participants. I hope you’ll take the time to visit them and leave a comment on their posts!  The list will be updated throughout the day, so please do come back and check on them. God bless us all!

O Holy Night

Christmas is just around the corner. However, not everyone now is looking forward to celebrating it.

Despite the atrocities we heard over the weekend, we believe that there is still a God. I am deeply saddened by the senseless killing of 20 innocent children and six adults in Connecticut. I’ve cried so much because I could feel the pain of the parents and I couldn’t imagine losing my own kid.

We ask “Why?”. We’ll never have our questions answered but all I know that my God is sovereign.

I know life must go on but I also believe major changes need to be made. I’m not giving any suggestions to the government and other parents but I’ll start with myself first by thinking more of the things that really matter.

May we not lose faith in God. May we not lose our hope in Jesus, Our Savior. As Christmas day approaches, may we remember the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save us from our sins.

Here’s another popular Christmas song my husband recorded a few years ago. I’m posting the lyrics here. Read the words and see the beauty of His coming to the world.

O Holy Night
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

The song talks about how the world has become sinful and our need for a Savior. God sent His Son to save us from our sins. Jesus who became man, understands how it is to be human. He feels our pain having suffered Himself on the way to the cross. He Himself faced rejection, hatred, and even experience physical pain many of us won’t even experience.

Now, we are called to live a life pleasing and holy to God and to love one another. It will be a life-long challenge but His grace will enable us.

For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over  the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor,  Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
Isaiah 9:6 (The Message)

The Brick Bible: Noah’s Ark Book Review

I purchased The Brick Bible’s Noah’s Ark book early last month from Amazon together with the New Testament and Old Testament of The Brick Bible by Brendan Powell Smith. I was too excited to get a hold of the books but wasn’t able to find time to make a proper review. A number of friends told me to be wary of the books because of the numerous bad reviews specifically on the LEGO Bible: it’s very graphic, violent, and blasphemous. Because of the many mixed reviews, I became more curious since it’s another version of the Bible and upon reading a few pages of the New and Old Testament LEGO books, I discovered that some pictures are really not appropriate for kids. What is appropriate or not may be subjective but as a mother of a 3-year old, there are photos in the book I wouldn’t want him to see just yet.

The Brick Bible is absolutely a new “spin” on the Bible stories written. It’s a graphic illustration of the many Bible stories that we have learned traditionally, with the use of LEGO bricks and mini figures.  I haven’t finished reading the Old and New LEGO books because I gave my copy of The New Testament and the story of Noah’s Ark to my nephew (through his parents). The New Testament is for his parents’ review but the Noah’s Ark, I gave it to him directly as a birthday gift.

I’ll focus on reviewing the Noah’s Ark Lego book first since it’s the only one I’ve finished reading so far.

The Brick Bible: Noah’s Ark

The Noah’s Ark book was Smith’s first published LEGO book.  This one is kid-friendly—it’s a children’s book. I can say that this book is safe for the kids to read simply because it’s the famous story of Noah and the Great Flood. Anyone who grew up playing with LEGO bricks would appreciate Smith’s storytelling with the use of building blocks. What a great way to get the kids to read this Bible story.

Rev. Wanda M. Lundy, Director, Doctor of Ministry Program at New York Theological Seminary wrote the foreword as a letter to the parents. I like the fact that Rev. Lundy explained the realities of life and that how the book could possibly make children ask many Why’s in the story. “Why did God make the people drown?” “Why would God kill people?” etc. If discerning adults could ask the same questions and are having a hard time answering them, surely, the kids will also have a hard time understanding the story. Parents have the tendency to shield their children from pain, hurt, and tragedy but while it is normal and the right thing to do, parents are also called to embrace the realities of life’s many joys and pains and be able to explain them to their kids.

Rev. Lundy suggested many ways on how to read the book with children and use the time to communicate with them. Kids may have questions on the more difficult areas but it’s up to the parents to choose what to focus on. She further recommended that reading the book could be a good time to assure the kids that their parents will be there through bad times.

The Letter to Parents’ page explains why and how The Brick Bible’s Noah’s Ark is appropriate for kids, contrary to some reviews and feedbacks. In my opinion, it’s up to the parents how to guide their children and be prepared to be asked many questions.

I don’t know what else to say about this book but while I was reading, I could not stop saying “cute! cute!” because the illustrations are too cute. I guess it’s the novelty of the famous bricks being used to tell a story. Who doesn’t love LEGOs?

Noah's Ark The Brick Bible
Front cover of the Noah’s Ark book in hardbound
Noah's Ark The Brick Bible
Colors are very vivid
Noah's Ark The Brick Bible
You can see that Brendan Powell Smith worked hard on this
Noah's Ark The Brick Bible
An activity page at the back
Noah's Ark The Brick Bible
Back Cover

PRICE: $12.95
SHOP: The Brick Bible Website | Amazon

Available in the Philippines at Hobbes and Landes for P1,200

You can buy directly from Brendan Powell Smith to get a signed copy of the book.

READ OTHER REVIEWS:

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“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22

Becoming the Person God Wants You to Be

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

We should strive to be that person and acknowledge that God knows what is best for us. He changes our situation or increases our load to prepare us in fulfilling more of our purpose in life. If you think God is about to do something–you’re feeling a desire to see His Kingdom come– it only means He is transitioning you. You are on your way to the next level. Continue reading Becoming the Person God Wants You to Be

Ephesians 3:20-21

I’ve heard and read these verses many times already but I didn’t really understand what they meant until today. The phrase “to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” struck me the most. We always knew that God is an all-powerful God but sometimes, we never really regard Him as someone who could do more beyond our imagination. Oftentimes, we take Him for granted by simply praying and asking that He bless or protect us. That’s it.

We forget that we can actually ask Him for miracles. He is the same God who did miraculous signs wonders in the Old and New Testament. Some people will say that miracles are not for the modern times and God wouldn’t speak to His people as He spoke to Abraham, Moses, or Noah. How come? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So why wouldn’t He speak to you? Why wouldn’t He perform a miracle in your life?

I don’t know with you but the verses from Ephesians challenged me to “challenge” God and even dream bigger.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)

*This is a repost.

Losing Perspective

As long as we live, we will always be discouraged. And when we are discouraged, more often than not, we lose our perspective.  It’s a sad occurrence but it’s true. People disappointed or irritated sometimes do or say things they don’t really mean. It’s takes a lot of effort and spirit to be calm and stand firm amidst all the pressure. We can’t do it on our own. You can’t. We need the Word of God to remind us to have a calm spirit and a still heart.

Look to God. Read the Word. If reading the Scriptures is what it takes to calm your spirit, do it. You have to.

You are my hiding place and my shield, I wait for Your Word. Psalm 119:114

On Being Grateful

simply being thankful makes life easier
Art Print Typography by Janeane Wilbur


If one is not grateful and thankful for what blessings life has already bestowed upon them, how can you have room for more blessings? Embrace the goodness around you. – Janeane Wilbur 

A few weeks into this “being positive”, I can say that life is more pleasant. This includes being more grateful to even the smallest or simplest things I experience every single day. I have always believed in the Power of Thank You so I try to say ‘thanks’ as much as possible. It’s a habit that I want my son to have too. When he does say ‘Thank you’, my heart melts. Continue reading On Being Grateful

The Brick Bible

I’m excited! In a few hours I will get my hands on the LEGO books I mentioned yesterday. And more good news: I was beyond thrilled that Brendan Powell Smith has been replying to my queries. It was a simple correspondence through Facebook but I’m happy that he responded.

I decided to give the books to my nephew Nav. We’re going to Bangkok and I haven’t bought any gift for him. He loves Lego too and recently, he has shown interest in reading the Bible and devotionals according to his dad, my brother-in-law, who is also a pastor. I know he’d love them. I wanted to get signed copies of the books, greeting cards, and posters. I will order The Brick products before December. I’m still deciding whether I’d have the items shipped straight to the Philippines or to a friend who is in New York.

I’m not sure if the books will be available locally but I’m sure they’d be more expensive as with the case of the Noah’s Ark book. Many of my friends have also expressed their excitement and they think that the books are a great way to get kids (and some adults) too read the Bible. I love Brendan’s work because it’s Lego and the Bible. Two of my favorite things in the world.

Last week, The Chicago Tribune’s Redeye blog published a full review of The Brick Bible. Hufftington Post also picked up the story and featured The New Testaiment in LEGOs. The Brick Bible also made it to TIME:  The Brick Bible: Turning Jesus Stories into Lego Scenes.

 

Sample page from The Brick Bible: The New Testament

I am hoping this LEGO Bible would lead more people to Christ. Who knew even toy bricks can be used to advance God’s Kingdom?

I plan on asking a few questions to The Reverend as I’m so into the books. Feel free to send me questions you’d’ like me to ask him. I hope he replies too.  🙂

Mixed reviews of The Brick Testament but we’ll see. I shall post a REVIEW once I’m done reading them.

Other related articles on The Brick Testament:

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 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16