The Mercy Room

Sometimes when we are treated unfairly, in the deepest of our heart there comes a ‘hope’ that the opposite people can be treated the same thing naturally. It seems like a justice to our eyes. If we trace back, this principle has been widely known since the Hammurabbi Law which introduced that we need to exchange eyes for eyes and tooth for tooth. Mahatma Gandhi opposed this view by saying, “An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind.” He got it right. Have you ever seen the hatred stops when we pay it back with hatred too? It seems like a justice … but what is a justice if we cannot make the person or even the world a better place to live on? The problem in this world is not because we are full with evil people, but because we are lacking of forgiving people. Yes, we lack of mercy.

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The Bible defines mercy as not getting what you do deserve [withheld punishment]. It is forgiving though the person does not deserve it. It can also mean as pity or compassion. It would be hard to swallow, hard to do. How can we give forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it so much? I find that we as human beings tend to have difficulty in forgiving when we see ourselves as a better person than the one who made mistakes. It places us as ‘righteous’ and the other person ‘not righteous’. As long as we see ourselves in this position, we will find that we have all the rights to give punishment, judge, condemn, or at least wishing that the other person will receive their ‘karma’. In the end, we find ourselves hard to forgive.

These recent days, I have experienced what mercy truly is and that changes me a lot. Being a devoted Christian for 15 years, makes me a bit difficult to see myself as a sinner. Yes, there is no big or small sin in God’s eyes. Sin is sin. But somehow there is this particular sin which causes me to feel such a failure and unworthy. I felt like I am truly truly a sinner. Yes, I am a Christian, but I am a sinner too. And knowing it causes me to turn back again and again at the cross, gazing upon Jesus. Lord, was my repentance seven years ago genuine? And here this verse strucked me,

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent [who have no need of a change of heart]” -Luke 15:7 [NIV]

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The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

If you look at Luke 15 more closely, you would find that the whole passage is sharing one theme: mercy. It tells a story about a father who waited for his youngest son to come back, overlooked his sins, ran after him as he got closer to his house [noted: wealthy man on that day did not run!], gave the very best gifts and threw a big party to celebrate his return. Would you like to imagine it for a moment? In our human’s eyes the youngest son certainly does not deserve such a treat by his father. But our God, as a loving Father, has such a deep mercy to sinners. He overlooked our past sins as we want to repent. Can we overlook our brother’s or sister’s sins? Or Are we like the eldest son who thought that he deserved such treatment and his brother did not? Which one will we be?

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Through my experience, I find myself as the lost son who needs Father’s mercy so much. I am a sinner, therefore I cannot judge other sinners too. You see, no one is perfect. Everyone needs forgiveness although some may never ask for it. But the attitude of the father has called us all to do the same thing. Are you judgmental? Know that the world needs mercy and forgiveness more than judgment. A relationship can only be healthy when it consists of forgivers. And we forgive because we are forgiven too.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” -Psalm 32:1-2

Remember always, we are no better than any other ‘sinners’. We are never in a place to judge or condemn them guilty. The realization of our own imperfection gives a space for mercy to grow. God has taught us that His mercy endures forever and He longs his people to be known as merciful one. For we are more like him when we love and forgive the undeserving ones.

Cheers,
Leticia

Photos by Axioo Photography

The Love Tank

There are times when we find it is hard to love. There are times when the bad sides of people simply wins from the battle of mind. And there are times also when the pressures of life consume us so much that we think that we have nothing left to give out to others. In short, our love tank is running low or even empty and that affects our whole relationship with others. But is it something that just happens? Can’t we do something to avoid that ‘season’ comes through in our lives? The good news is … the love tank should not have to go through running low phase or even empty. The love tank is supposed to be full every time. It is a matter of daily choice.

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Many people takes love as something in which we fall into and also fall out. They treat a relationship as something that we can exit from as the feeling of love has fallen out. Our love has been based on something that is so undependable… feeling. And it does not take a longer time to make our love becomes conditional. “I love you if …” This type of love would undoubtedly has a short-time to live and will involve a lot of dissapointment and pain. So what kind of love that will guarantee a life-time span? What kind of love in which makes the individuals involved stay when other strays? I bet you can guess it 🙂 Yup .. unconditional love. A love without any demand in return.

“Wow.. could really a man able to execute such kind of love?” With God’s grace and help, yes, a man can give out unconditional love. As long as a person is willing to work on a relationship, there is a hope. So it is a matter of willingness. Loving is easy when people whom we love is loveable. The challenge comes when it comes to love someone who is difficult to love. And this someone could be someone whom you used to love in a dramatic way too back then.

I saw a very ironic sight where romance turns cold as couple get married over time. Some people say that the gap between what it used to be and what it has turned out to be is called as a reality. But I do not fully agree with that because it leaves an impression that reality is always worse from past or our dreams. I prefer making the reality as the better version of past and present time. Reality does not mean that it has to be bitter. It can be sweet. But someone has to pay the price for a sweet reality. It may cost our ego, pride, and ways of life to adapt with people whom we ‘love’.

In order for us to have a full love tank, there is no other choice but to connect to its source, the Author of Love, the Love itself, God. As long as we depend on our own strength to love, our effort will remain in vain. Our love is so limited. Humanly love is undoubtedly conditional. But God’s love is entirely different. There is nothing that you can do to make Him love you more and there is nothing that you can do to make Him love you less. His love does not depend on your performance. His love is entirely conditional.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” -Romans 5:8

God chose to love and even die for you when you did not even bother His existence.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:17-18

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God’s love fills our love tank until it is full. But the question is … are we letting Him to fill it? Jesus loves you and He lives in you. Jesus inside you wants to love the difficult person whom you troubled with. Are we letting Him to? Jesus always sees a person as whom He created at the first place and whom the person will be at the touch of His grace. He overlooks sin’s accesorries and desperately longs for the hearts to become His. He is a prince who is jealous to guard His princess’ heart from the world’s grasp. Because He knows that nothing, nothing can guard it as well as Him. No treasure, no even other human being can make sure the hearts will not be broken besides Him alone. Are we letting him truly becomes the owners of our hearts?

So many of us pray for a miracle. For our family’s members to be saved, for sickness to be healed, for relationships to be restored, and so many other good things. Yet somehow, God is waiting for us to take our part in letting the miracle comes through us. God is waiting for us to sow seeds of love in stony hearts of men. God is waiting for us to remove the stone of unforgiveness and fear. Before He makes His miracle, He makes sure His sons and daughters have grown. Because what is a miracle (a circumstance to be changed) without a change of the core of our hearts?

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh [heart of obedience to God]. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” -Ezekiel 11:19-20

“Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cake of pagans” -Hosea 3:1

God is not an angry God who forces His people to love and serve him obediently. In Hosea 2:1 He said, “Therefore I am going to allure her (Israel); I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” God is a God of love who wins back the heart of His people, sinners, to return to Him. The whole Bible is telling us a great love story between God and human being. He is desperately wants to love us and for sure being loved back is one of His priceless treasures.

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God shows us that no heart is to hard to be soften. As long as the seeds of unconditional love are planted, He can make a miracle. Because love cannot fail. And love never fails.

So let His love completely fills your love tank. Fill it with a greatest weapon of all to win back God’s people. It is always easy to love when we remember that it is God’s in us who wants and enables us to do so. Our part is to sacrifice our ego and pride, remove stone of unforgiveness and fear, and get into a reckless abandon to His righteous ways.

What a wonderful world will be. When hatred ceases and ego dies, truth and love lives. A heaven on earth. A sweet reality that can come true.

-Leticia-

Photos by Ppf and Axioo Photography

The Winter Time

I live in country where there are no four seasons. There are no spring, summer, autumn, nor winter. In my country (Indonesia), we have only two seasons: dry season and rainy season. Most of Indonesians dislike the peak of dry season where the weather gets very hot (around 33 degrees of Celcius). Okay, I know that means “nothing” to those who lives in four seasons country, because on summer their average temperature can be between 41-57 degrees of Celcius. But for Indonesians, 33 degrees is hot. Especially living in busy city like Jakarta with its traffic jam, walking under the sun is the least favorable option for the citizens. We desperately long for a cooler weather and get addicted with air conditioner in every room. That is why Indonesians also has greater interest to travel to cooler country or perhaps certain country during the winter time. We long to see SNOW! For us, it is exciting! But as I have observed, the people who live in four seasons country may not see winter season as an enjoyable one. In contrast to Indonesians, they may much prefer summer than winter. Winter is dreary, the sun sets earlier, the city gets more quiet because people prefer to stay within their warm home, the road gets more slippery so that people have to be more careful in driving, and many more. Isn’t that interesting? For some, winter is fun, while for some others winter is dreary!

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Isn’t our life’s approach similar to the seasons that happen in where we live to? Although each of us may have different preference regarding our favourite season, I would like to share my illustration from the general point of view. Let us assume that summer is associated when things in our life are running well. Then winter is associated when things are not as smooth as we planned it to or even bad things are really happening in our life such as disaster, “big” problems that seem impossible to solve, etc. Most of people love when summer season is happening. Life seems so free from its problems, they can do what they want to do, have fun, and “enjoy” life. But as certain as the season changes, so does the season of our lives will change. Your summer time perhaps was in your childhood. As you grow up as teenager you started to face that your parents have to divorce, your school friends dislike you, and life seems so “dark”. No dream, no hope. Or maybe your summer is your single life back then. The season changed as you entered marriage life with “wrong” man. You cannot stop wishing how you would make a better decision back then which is not choosing him as your life partner. The point is, either it is because of your mistake or others’ decision in your life, your season of life will change. Summer is not for forever, neither winter is for the end of time. Joy does not last forever, neither sorrow is meant for the end of time. Knowing this seasons of life and anticipating its changes is a wisdom. If you embrace this wisdom, you may be better prepared to face the winter time. Just because the winter is cold doesn’t mean you have to become a cold person too. I know that the heaviness of problems you are facing offer many chances to let you become one. But again, I want to encourage you to embrace the wisdom and anticipate the change in your life well.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.                                       -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 [NLT]

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I know exactly that winter time can really be awful. Your car can be all covered by snow and ice which takes a lot of effort to remove it. You can get a flu. Even waking up in the morning requires high level of determination. But try to imagine this.. In the midst of the coldness that your body is difficult to bear, you start to sip and holding on your hot chocolate. Hmm.. I bet that the hot chocolate will taste so much better than when you drink it in summer. What I want to show you is, yes, problems in your life can really make your life seems bad. It can even make you feel helpless, desperate, tired, worry, angry, and so on. Yes, it can also make you sick, either mentally or physically. But realise that only in this “winter” season, you can allow some works God has to do inside of you. It is the only season where the smallest act of kindness such as a simple smile given to you can mean the world to you. Just a feeling that someone cares for you will influence your soul so much. It is the season  where you can see who your friends really are. And as odd as it seems, it is a season where your friends can turn to strangers, and strangers turn to friends. It is a fragile moment where if you open your heart enough, you can allow some “strangers” to be the extension hands of God and touch your heart. There is still a beauty in winter time. It depends on how you choose to see it.

Believe that God will not allow winter time in your life for no reason. If He allows you to face difficult circumstances, He has a purpose for you. You may be bored with these words. But I cannot tell other truth besides this. There once a girl who has just went home after serving the Lord in the church. She was practicing choir until late at night. When she had almost arrived at her home, some guys approached her and almost raped her. She wasn’t being raped at that night. But she could feel the disgust brim over her mind knowing that she has been sexually abused. After that happened, she took a bath again and again. The water from the shower washed her crying face. In her heart she kept screaming, “Why Lord? Why Lord?” She didn’t do anything bad. She had just SERVING the Lord. Why would God allow such thing to happen? She didn’t find the answer until 20 years later her ministry came to reach the women who became victims of rape. At first she started to reach one woman, the woman lashed out her saying, “You don’t know how it feels!” Now she realise why would God allow that horrible night 20 years ago to happen. She confidently said to the victim, “I do. I know how it feels. Although I wasn’t being raped fully but all the condemnation and disgust feeling was the same as yours.” I will never forget the lesson here. God will make you so strong at the broken places in your life so that you should minister to others out of that hidden strength. God may allow you have a background of alcoholic and drug users so that one day you can reach those who are just the same as you used to be. I am not saying if you never be in their position God can never use you. I am saying that God can use all things that happen in your life (including bad things) to serve a greater purpose in others’ life. 

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” -Genesis 50:20

“And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11

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Winter is not always bad. The thick ice can be used for ice skating. You can spend more time with your family at home or read your untouched books so far. You can make snowballs, ski, etc. There is a beauty in every winter. It may be hidden, so you need to use your eyes of faith to see it. In the midst of the plants that run dry during winter, there is one type of flower grows in it. It is snowdrop flower. Snowdrops symbolize new beginnings and hope because they typically bloom at the end of winter and announce the approach to spring. Growing close to the ground, they also represent death. In winter time, your character is being purified. That will require the death of “self”. No more selfishness, no more “I” in everything. You try to see things as God sees it, treat people as God wants them to be treated, and even consider them more important than your needs . And out of the death of “self” is actually the beginning of hope. Snowdrops are beautiful not just physically but because of the message they bring. There is a hope in the midst of your heavy problems. Do not let the light of hope diminish in your life. Pray to God, ask Him what He wants to teach you in this season. Keep believing that this winter time won’t last forever. And as you keep trusting in the goodness of the Lord, keep praising and giving thanks to Him, the spring is approaching you. The hope will announce its coming. And you may no longer realise that the season of your life has changed simply because you are embracing the beauty of your winter time. Don’t wait for things to be better first to be thankful, start being grateful today and your life will change! Life is not about waiting the storm out there to pass, but to get out and dancing in the rain 🙂

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“God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless” -Chester W. Nimitz

“A little more persistence, a little more effort and what seems hopeless failure may turn to glorious success” -Elbert Hubbard

Blessings,
Leticia

The Light at the End of Tunnel

The light at the end of tunnel is one of English idiom which means something which makes you believe that a difficult or unpleasant situation will end. Although time has passed, days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months, and months turn to years; some situations in your life may have not changed yet. But don’t worry! You are not alone! I feel the same too. I learn a lot of things in this “dark tunnel” situation. I am inspired by a line said by Habibie from the “Habibie & Ainun” movie (such a great movie about true love story 🙂 I remember that Habibie once encouraged Ainun who was homesick, felt lonely, and really sick because of her first pregnancy. He said, “We are like a railway carriage passing through a long dark tunnel. All we can see is the darkness by now. But every tunnel has the end. And at the end of it, there will be light. I promise you, I will bring you to that light.”

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When troubles seem to overwhelm you, it’s tempting to think that it will never end. Moreover, if all that you can see with your physical eyes is dark and gloomy. Without light, without hope. Many people keep asking, “Why is this happening to me? Why does God allow me to experience this?” The questions of whys are so natural to pop out in this situation. Some people may think it must be because of sins that they did in the past. But they wonder what is it since they think they are good enough so far. (Well not all of bad situations is the result of your sins. Remember Joseph?) I don’t know all the whys about your situation, as I don’t know all the whys in my situation too. But one thing I know for sure is that this season will have an ending and God has a purpose of it. I am determined to end it with a good attitude and come out as a better person, not a bitter one. You see, the railway carriage will find its light later on, but it has to keep moving forward. If the railway carriage stops in the midst of the tunnel, the darkness will be its permanent season for the rest its life. Some people get discouraged in this dark tunnel and decide to give up at last. They may think, “It’s hopeless. I have prayed and nothing has changed.” Being “hopeless” is a dangerous state of mind that we ever deal with. Without hope, you lose your strength to carry on. And here is the good news. There is no such thing called as “hopeless”. With God, there is always a hope! Without God, everything seems hopeless.

“I will love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.” -Psalm 18:1-3,28,35

“Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.” -Psalm 31:24

Hope is the light of your soul. It sees before everything becomes a reality. It lightens your day before the outer light in your circumstance appear. So even when your situations give you no reason to be joyful, you can still be joyful by maintaining the light of hope in your heart. Keep gazing upon the Lord, your source of hope and strength. Remember that there is nothing that He cannot do over your circumstance. He is your Almighty God! Almighty simply means … all mighty! He has unlimited power of everything! In this dark tunnel, it is an opportunity where you can really know who your God really is. You can experience the depth of intimacy with God more than before. God may not explain the whys behind your pain and suffering, but he promised you to walk with you in the midst of it. He is a faithful God! He will never leave you even for a second in this season. Be patient and be still knowing that our beloved God is totally in control in every situation of your life.

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Last night, the LORD impressed me these verses in my heart:

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, “declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity …” -Jeremiah 29:10-14

There are some truths being conveyed in these verses. As God determined a period of time where the Israel would be carried away by Babylonians, so does He set a period of time of your dark tunnel. Again, there is the end of the tunnel. And the gap between your now and that the end is only time. God does not allow a dark season for merely nothing. He has a beautiful purpose and plan out of it. But you have to seek the Lord. Keep pressing on, keep moving forward. The darker your situation it seems, the more you need to stick to the Lord. He promises that he will always be found by those who seek Him with all of their hearts. God is not playing hide and seek with you. He is always there in your heart. It is you who need to take one step closer to Him and He will run the thousand steps to embrace you. He wants to be closer with you more than you want to be with Him 🙂 John The Cross expressed this truth beautifully: If you are seeking after God you may be sure of this: God is seeking you much more. He is the Lover, and you are His beloved, He has promised Himself to you.

“I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.” -Proverbs 8:17

One of the situations on my dark tunnel require me to keep loving those who may be unloveable toward me. It’s a season when I desperately ask for the Lord’s strength to accompany me each day. I also wait for the closed door of my relationship to be opened. But instead of the tough situations I am facing now, I discover how I need to grow in prayer. My relationship with God is much more intimate than before. His love becomes so real even my situations can give me reasons that I am unloved. His love has made me stronger and stronger. So the dark situation is actually a calling for you to kneel and pray. It is an opportunity to grow in depending more upon God than your own strength. Mother Teresa spoke gently, “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.”

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I know it does not answer all your whys but the the dark tunnel in your life is always an opportunity to grow more in the Lord. It can either make you or break you. It can make you better or bitter. The response is yours to make 🙂 My prayer and hope for you is that you do not give up and keep pressing on. Your hope should not based on your circumstance, but on God who can change your circumstance. The world may see it impossible, but to God nothing is impossible. Be patient, keep doing your part with all your heart. One day the light is certainly coming through the tunnel, for you have reached the end of it. You will look back at the past and thank God for what He has taught during that moments.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up for your work will be rewarded.” -2 Chronicles 15:7

Blessings,
Leticia Seviraneta

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography

True Faith

We may often hear that faith is believing before seeing. It is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see [Hebrews 11:1] It sounds simple, but it seems like most of us have difficulty in believing. How can we believe on things we do not see? How can we believe in things that are too good to be true? Here is where this talk is getting more interesting 😉 Believing after seeing will not be called as faith at all. Faith will only be as strong as its object. If somehow you feel that your faith just doesn’t work like you want it to be, maybe we need to check where we have put our faith on. True faith is being placed in nothing else but in the goodness of God alone. It is believing that our God is a good God who wants to give us the best no matter it may seem at the current moment. Have faith in a good God, not in his gifts.

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Jesus once elaborated His loving Father’s character in Matthew 7:9-11. He said, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Here Jesus laid down a very strong foundation of faith. Our faith will be strong when we realize that the God we serve is the God of “how much more.” He wants nothing but the best for you. He will never give you a stone when you ask him for bread, and he will never give you a snake when you ask for a fish. God is a good God. His goodness even surpasses the most loving saint you’ve ever known.”

The level of our faith will be deeply influenced by how deep we know our God. Faith is not something attained by our effort or righteousness. Faith is not even a conscious thing, but an unconscious result of believing in Someone. In original language of New Testament, Greek, the word of “pistis” which means “faith” rarely stands alone. It always followerd by a preposition “eis” or others which means “into”. It is always “faith into,”  “faith unto,”  or “faith upon.” It is not just a noun. It is a noun attached into Someone. We often substitute the Someone with ‘something.’ We placed our faith in money, health, possessions, and so on.

“For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me,” -John 6:44a [NLT]

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. -Ephesians 2:8 [NLT]

Faith is a gift of those who believe in Jesus and intimate relationship with Him. It is granted, not earned. It is being born out of a loving relationship. We do not need to put effort on maximizing our faith. We just need to trust and abide in His love. That is the secret power of faith.

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The sad part is … many people have faith to achieve something but their faith is not based on the will of God nor His goodness. Many people simply abuse the word of faith to justify their wants. So it is important to pray first before we declare boldly that I have faith that … come out from our mouth. To check out our motive, ask this, “Will you maintain the same level of faith when God does not fulfill it as you wish?” Well, God’s way is often different from ours. There is no exact formula on how God will work in each of your case. Are you ready to face whatever He gives to you? Remember, the nature of faith is that it must be tried. Faith must be purified. And along the way of its purification, there will be so many things that may leave us behind with question marks.

Oswald Chambers described faith as deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you cannot understand at the time. It’s an attitude of saying, “I don’t know why God allows what He does, but I will stick to my faith in His character no matter how contradictory things look.”

One of the great example of people who executed true faith for me are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They refused to bow down and worship the image [idol]of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Their declaration against the king’s command show their true faith in the only one God of Israel whom they serve. They exclaimed, “O Nebuchadnezar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image you have set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego completely believed in the mighty power of God which could save them from the blazing furnace without any doubt. Yet at the same time, they also know even if it was God’s will for them to be burned, their attitude would remain the same. They would still acknowledge their God as the good and only God whom deserves their worship.

Do we have the same attitude to our God today? Or are we a demanding one who insists God to do what we wish Him to do? Are you ready for your faith to be purified?

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The opposite of faith is not disbelief, but fear. Fear simply paralyzes our faith. It makes our problem bigger and God smaller. It involves doubt that our God cannot handle things that we regard as out of our control. Remember, God is always in control. To grow in our faith is to die in fear. Each time fear whispers, it needs to be shut down. Many people settle in their comfort zone because they are afraid of making the ‘wrong steps’. But God never offers certainty and all the details that we are going through from beginning to the end. Otherwise, we will not need faith to accomplish the journey. Yet He offers that He will be the certainty in the midst of uncertainty that we would have to face.

Faith never knows where it is being led,
but it loves and knows the One who is leading
-Oswald Chambers

Whatever the problems you are facing right now, my prayer is that you will keep your faith alive. You will fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Your faith will completely relies on His goodness alone. You will take a step of faith to wherever He is leading you and leave all your fears behind. I believe that if what we ask out of faith is according to His will, it is just a matter of time He will make it comes true beyond our imagination. God is truly a God of how much more!

Blessings,

Leticia

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography

Faith Based Relationship

In my previous post titled “Healthy Soul” I have discussed how we often some sort of expectations on people. We much likely desire people to change things that we dislike on them. Now I want to discuss how can we see them differently? You may say, “It is easy to speak but hard to do.” But I would like to share some truth that can help you to shift your perspective 😉

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In God’s eyes, everybody is a 10. Do you believe it? If you believe that everybody is sinner, then saying “Everybody is a 10” will equal to “Every sinner, too, is a 10” Yes, your score in God’s eyes does not depend on your performance. It’s not about how righteous you are. God is your own creator. He knows you inside out. He knows whether you will sin or not, He knows all of your motives. Nothing that you choose in life surprises Him.

“O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” -Psalm 139:1-6

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” -Psalm 139:15-16

When God created you, He put all the potentials hidden inside of you. Sin causes His image on you to be distorted and that potentials cannot be found and grown. That’s what makes you feel hard to see everybody as a 10 with your physical eyes. They are all the “10” who don’t realise themselves as “10”. They may live without knowing who they are, why they are here on earth, what is their purpose of life, how they suppose to treat people, and so on. There are times when I, too, don’t realise myself as a 10. We have been grown by thinking that, “When I sin, I hit the lower score than before.” “I used to be so close to God, but now it is gone.” Right now, let us stop thinking of those things and start to embrace the way God sees us.

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Paul knew exactly how God saw the church in Corinth. You may be able to recall the most famous scripture about love is located on 1 Corinthians 13. But the citizens of Corinthians at that time were far from the image of love. They practiced of immorality and wickedness. The culture of the city also had influenced the church. The church at Corinth continued to struggle for a very long time with basic issues concerning unity and moral living. But look closely at how Paul addressed them.

“To the church of God is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” -1 Corinthians 1:2

Paul called them as saints! Sinners are seen by the eyes of God as saints by the blood of Jesus Christ 🙂 So how are we going to apply this truth to our relationship with fellow human? I learn that each time I am disturbed by certain characters and what they do to me, I learn to pray for them. Instead of trying to change people with my own way, either by nagging or criticise them, I learn to surrender it to the Lord and let God works to convict and change their hearts. Do you realise that it takes more faith to pray your problems to the Lord than to try solving it by your own? You may not realise it, but when you correct people in inappropriate way, it does not build them up but tear them down. Instead of helping them to see themselves as a 10, you are convincing them that they are “3” or “5”. Of course there are times when we have to speak up our advices, but God gives a specific guidance regarding correcting people.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” -Ephesians 4:15

If we point out others’ weakness out of our own frustration or anger, for sure our tone, our choice of words and our body language will be less likely express love to them. We are more likely to have tendency to say “truth” because we are the one who dislike it and try to change it. This habit destroys so many relationships. People who are constantly receiving that behavior can be depressed and have a low-self esteem. Everyone loves to be accepted. And even their behavior is unacceptable for you, there is a way to communicate it. And again for me, a faith based relationship will mean that you surrender it to God and trusting that God is the one who will work in their hearts. Sometimes you really don’t have to say anything to particular person. Say it to God, and God will deliver it in His time. Sounds weird? I am a speak up person. When I apply it into my life, I feel helpless. How can you use a “mediator” to convey your message when you can speak to them directly? But this “mediator” is not a merely “mediator”. He is GOD. He is the ONLY one who can change people’s heart and your situation. I always remember what Kay Warren said, “Christianity is about SURRENDER.” I have tried this and I have experience how God delivered my message to some people (both believers and unbelievers). Will you surrender that person and your relationship to God?

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“Praying for those who love you, that is sincerity.

Praying for those who hurt you, that is maturity.” -Leticia Seviraneta

This faith based relationship can be applied in every kind of relationship in your life. If you are a wife who desperately wants your husband to change in some areas (the one that you know exactly God would love to change them too), pray it to the Lord. Don’t constantly criticising him. One prayer full of faith in God is more efficient than thousands of words to convince him to change. What a truth! You may see prayer as the last effort or somewhat a passive one. Yet Oswald Chambers described prayer so beautifully. “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” If you ever want God change and heal your “hopeless” relationship, the first thing to do is to pray. Surrender them to the Lord completely. Remember that faith is believing before it is seen and believing that God can change the situation. You may find it very very difficult to see people as a 10, but with your eyes of faith, you can! You may not see how things can turn around, but with the big God you serve and TRUST, you can. Your relationship will be transformed so greatly when you apply your faith in it. Those people whom you hardly like, is one of God’s precious 10. He wants them to realise it. And he would love to use you to help them seeing themselves as a 10. Don’t tear them down with your own words, build them up. There is always something to be praised and appreciated. When you can shift your focus from their weakness to their strength, it can help you a lot. In the end, as we are on the journey on this faith based relationship process, we will find that we are the one who is being transformed! Our faith is growing stronger. People may not change, but your attitude to them will. Put your faith in each of your relationship. God works the most when we surrender all to Him.

“Go home, and let all your relatives off the potter’s wheel. You are not the potter!”

-Joyce Meyer

Blessings,
Leticia

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography

From A Father’s Heart

Father and daughter relationship is one of the most beautiful gift to human being. Our God himself is always take a position as a Father and embrace us as His daughters. A daughter is safe when her father fulfils his calling by protecting and loving her with all of his might. Sadly, we know that in reality it doesn’t always happen. We have seen a relationship where father and daughter don’t communicate so much because he is busy with his occupation or think that it is her mother’s job to nurture the children. We have seen a father who emotionally and physically abuses his daughter. We have seen a father who abandons her daughter. If you don’t have the gift of father and daughter relationship as it supposed to be, then I want to encourage you to embrace your loving Father in heaven. His love is more than enough to heal your wound, disappointment, and hunger for father’s love. This is important because without our Father’s love in heaven, we will eventually become limp in the area of love and also may not have a healthy self image.

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Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. -Psalms 68:4-6

Hereby, I would like to give a father’s letter to his daughter. It is made by Ps. Philip Wagner, the one who has become a true father to his daughter. I know that most of us may not have this kind of earthly ‘ideal’ father, so I am deeply convinced that his letter will share a bit of real father’s heart for you. Take this letter as what our Father in heaven would like you to know. He always wants the best for you. He always wants to protect you. Nothing sadden him most then when you make wrong decision for your partner of life. May it blesses you all 🙂

January 12, 2009

Dear Paris,

Today is your mother’s and our 24th anniversary.

Those are kind of rare these days. Many times, relationships just don’t make for a marriage that will last that long. Sometimes people stay married that long, but they just kind of endure it and don’t really enjoy it like they once did.

My wish for you is that you enjoy a loving relationship and have a marriage that will last.

After having been married 24 years and helping hundreds of others in their relationships, I believe it has a lot to do with who you choose to give your heart to. A father wants the best in life for his daughter, and I’m no different.

You once said in a video message that when you got married, you wanted a man like me. You may not need someone like me (although I loved hearing that), but I do hope you end up choosing someone to give your heart to who will be a great match for you. As a dad, I would say to choose someone who is good enough for you, someone who is worthy of you. Ultimately, this is your choice … no one can make it for you. Others can only hope that you guard your heart above all else.

I’ve given similar advice to thousands of others but I thought I’d share it with you on this special day in a more personal way. My advice to you, as your daddy, is to find someone who is:

1. A Christ-follower.

This should be the number-one thing. I’m not talking about picking someone who says he is a Christian; we’ve met many people like that. I’m not talking about someone who knows a lot of Scripture or has been a church member; there are plenty of people who do those things who may not make a very good spouse.

I’m talking about a young man who has a genuine love for God.

Find someone whose faith inspires you to believe more and live with a higher focus, a person who wants to honor Jesus Christ in how he lives and in the choices he makes.

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This kind of faith will cause the person you choose to look for direction from a Source beyond his own thoughts and feelings. He will be compelled to be a servant at times when others focus on themselves; he will forgive when others want to hold on to little disagreements; and he will try to trust God when others just do it their own way. He will look to God’s Word for guidance and will be accountable to God for his choices.

I’ve seen some people compromise on this number-one quality and regret later because it affects so many other areas.

2. Respectful

A person who respects you will think about your feelings and desires before taking action and making decisions. He will make decisions that demonstrate that he genuinely honors you.

Respect changes everything about how we talk to each other, how we work through differences and how we arrive at our ultimate decisions.

He will respect God’s plan for your life. He will never encourage you or support you in disregarding what’s best for your life.

Respect causes us to be kind in way that others are not. It affects how we speak about each other to others and how we approach life together.

3. Protective

This does not mean that he is defensive. He is protective. To me, this means he is considerate of you. In our world today, it’s easy to be self-focused. When the pressure is on, we tend to take care of our own needs first. A person who is protective will think of you before himself.

He will protect you physically from harm and from his own desires that would put you at risk. To young people this includes pregnancy and disease, but it also means meeting your physical needs in everyday life.

He will protect you emotionally by stepping up in times when you may need that extra sensitivity.

He will protect you spiritually by keeping a watchful eye over temptations and distractions.

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He will protect your relationships, conducting his relationship with you in a way that does not jeopardize the other relationships that are important to you. He will not be competitive or unnecessarily jealous, forcing you to choose him in order to feel more important.

Love inspires someone to care for others enough to protect them.

4. A Man with Vision

A person with vision has ambition with purpose. A person with vision has direction.

Some people may have goals, but vision takes you somewhere.

Most young boys have big dreams. Some young men have interesting ideas about ways to make money. But ultimately you will probably want a man that is focused on “making a life,” not just “making a living,” someone who wants to make a difference in the world,

Vision brings confidence, confidence brings strength and strength brings greater vision. (Confidence is a quality that brings so much to a relationship, because it allows us to deal with situations that come up by focusing on those situations alone -not on our own hidden needs that subtly affect every conversation.)

Well, these are a few important qualities … Maybe you can stuck this note away somewhere and let it speak to your heart in the months and years ahead.

My wish for you is to enjoy love in its greatest form.

Love,
Dad

When it comes to men, please do aim high. 
Characters matter more than you can imagine. 

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As a man on his own, a father knows the best what to look for in a man to became his precious daughter’s partner of life. If a human father hopes the best for his daughter, wouldn’t be our heavenly Father wants the best of the best for his children?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. -James 1:17 [NIV]

A Godly partner of life is a gift from God. Ask him to guide your path to choose wisely. He knows the future. He knows which one is the best for you. God is not a God who wanted to hide the good things from you. But you have to let him guide you. And while you wait, grow in such a way that you will be the right partner for him too 🙂

Blessings,

Leticia

Photos by Baby Axioo Photography