Repairer of the Broken Walls

We all have experienced brokenness at some point in our lives. Either it is a broken heart from relationship, broken dreams, broken family, broken financially, and so on. The truth is .. we live in a broken and fallen world. No wonder that there are things in our lives which inevitably hurt us. But here is the good news .. God is able to use your brokenness and turn it around to become His greatest glory!

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In brokenness season, there is a tendency for us to respond it with either self-pity or bitterness. Self-pity is a feeling that we are the most pitiful person in this world. It is seeing that there is nothing good in our lives and we mourn over it all the time. When self-pity overwhelms us, it is hard to see the fingers of God in our current situation. It seems like we are in a very big problem but cannot see any way out. That’s why we can only mourn over it. Self-pity seems harmless on its very first stage. It seems so natural to pity ourselves for all the calamities that happen to us. And it may feels … good. But what we don’t realize is … it gives the devil a foot hold in our hearts. It is like a seed of cancer which keeps spreading all over our bodies. There will come a point where we have no ability to be thankful at all to our beloved Creator. It causes us losing our joy, and eventually makes us us losing our strength. ” … Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10). Thereby, as natural as it may seem, self-pity should not linger even for a second in our lives. The cure for self-pity is simply shifting our concerns from ‘self’ to ‘others’. If you desire a compassion, give a compassion to others. If you want to be loved, give love to others. If you want to be comforted, bring comfort to those who mourn. It may sounds weird, but God really gives more abundantly to a cheerful giver.

The other ‘natural’ response to brokenness season is by being bitter. Our hearts does not become bitter automatically when people hurt us. Bitterness is our choice. No one can affect our hearts’ condition unless we allow them to. In every situation we can always choose whether we will be ‘bitter’ or ‘better’. The fact is, I never see any bitter person is thankful nor a thankful person bitter. It may sounds strange, but thankfulness is the medicine to bitterness. “Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18) Of course, give thanks in the midst of trouble will be so unnatural for us. Some even do it just with a burdened heart simply because they have to (for example they try to obey God). But here is the view point. It is a matter of acknowledging His goodness in our present trouble. Yes, we can admit to God that, “I don’t understand it Lord. But I still believe in your purpose. Keep doing on what You do.” It’s a whole different perspective which can set us free from a bitter heart. Another important key to be free is releasing forgiveness for those who hurted us. It’s difficult and it will take time. But if we are willing to forgive, there is a hope. 

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We need to be sensitive on asking God instead of “Why God?” but “What do you want me to learn from this?” God is in control. He never allows circumstances occur in our lives without any purpose. If you have prayed and nothing changes, maybe God wants to change you first. Instead of seeing the ugly sides of other people and circumstances, ask humbly to the LORD to help you see your own heart’s condition. Is there any unwillingness to forgive and reconcile? Is there any bitterness? God is more than willing to reveal your heart and His plan for you as you come in humbly before Him.

Though it is hard to comprehend, but brokenness season is the only place where we can truly know who God is. It is the only season where we can truly feel His presence in a very intimate way. As someone says, “God does not promise you explanations about everything, but He promises you to walk through the pain.” It is a place where depending upon God is the only choice we have. And that in the end leads us to a deeper relationship with Him.  “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Shouldn’t it all that matters in this life?

As illogical as it sounds, God uses people who are ‘weak’. People who acknowledge that they are nothing without their God. People who come humbly upon Him and surrender their independence to become fully dependent to Him alone. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” And sometimes, it takes a series of circumstances to bring us up to this point. Peter was being broken for his failure by denying Christ three times. He wept bitterly. Yet God touched his brokenness by asking “Do you love me?” three times (John 21:15-17) and in the end God used him so powerfully to preach the good news. The fact is, we simply cannot be broken where things are running so good in our lives, can we? Be glad if God breaks your heart right now, for it always meant for a greater purpose beyond your imagination. Yes, you cannot see it now, but one day you will, and you will be amazed.

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Today,if you are in brokenness season, I believe that God wants to speak comfort for you. “For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” If a desert can be turned to become a garden in the hands of God, than your brokenness is more than able to be used to  proclaim His glory too. It will be just like a dream, but God’s promise will come true as we respond to our brokenness correctly. Do not harbor anger, self-pity, nor bitterness in this season. Just offer your sacrifice of a broken heart, sincerely trusting God, and offer thanksgiving for His goodness. As you respond in God’s ways, you will be more likely to end up in God’s plan. 

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the Repairer of the Broken Walls, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” (Isaiah 58:10-12)

One day, in the midst of your current ruins, God will built a new home. He is the ultimate Repairer of Broken Walls, broken soul, broken hearts. He is the ultimate healer. If you respond correctly, pouring your life to serve others instead of focusing on your own wounds, releasing forgiveness, and willing to surrender to God, this will be your destiny. God is more than able to heal the broken hearts, if you give Him all the pieces.

Blessings,

Leticia Seviraneta

Photos by Baby Axioo Photography

Go Round

 

“In their hearts humans plan the course, but the LORD establishes the steps.” –Proverbs 16:9 [NIV]

I lived in a big city where I usually drive a car as my main transportation. One day I noticed one of the traffic sign which was placed on the roundabout in the middle of roads’ intersections. It requires the vehicles to go round first before turning to the road they want to go. As each vehicle goes round the roundabout, it will have to slow down its speed. Surely, it takes more time to go round the roundabout first rather than taking the turn directly. I found the same principle works in our lives. There are times when we want to go directly to our dreams, but the circumstances require us to “go round”. It causes us to wait for some time until we reach our destination.

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The season of “go round” is the season of preparation and molding our characters. This is the place where our patience is being molded, our hope is tested, and our faith is struggling to stand firm. The Israelites had this phase when they had just left the Egypt’s slavery under Moses’ leadership. The journey from Egypt to the Promised Land should only require 11 days, but they had to go round the desert for 40 years! Why did it happen? Because it took one day for Israelites to go out from Egypt, but it took 40 years for the “Egypt” to go out of the Israelites.

The Israelites had actually reached the boundary of the promised land on the 11thweek, more exactly in a place called Kadesh-Barnea. Out of the 12 spies sent to Canaan, only two of them: Joshua and Caleb, who reported with full of faith that they would be able to conquer the land despite of many enemies there. But the Israelites chose to follow the opinion of the other 9 spies who were full of fear and pessimistic. Because of their lack of faith, God had to mold their faith in the way that took them 40 years and he also punished the whole faithless generation for not entering the land of Canaan. Only Joshua and Caleb in that generation would enter the Promised Land.

“not of of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times –not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” –Numbers 14:22-23 [NIV]

God does not work in the same way for each of us. For Israelites, their lack of faith and the memory of Egypt were the factors that they had to “go round”. But God’s children usually have to “go round” as a process to prepare their character and increase their level of dependency to God alone.

Whatever you are going through now, believe that this “go round” situation is only for a time. Let the patience being mold inside us, and let our faith and hope keep shining in the midst of uncomfortable situation. One day, what you are going through now can be used as a beautiful testimony which glorifying God. God is the master to turn your “mess” into a “message.”

Faith is to believe what you do not see;

the reward of this faith is to see what you believe –St. Augustine

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Love,

Leticia Seviraneta

Photos by Axioo Photography

Why Not?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” –Deuteronomy 31:6 [NIV]

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What is your dream that has not come true yet? Do you think that your dream is too big and feel unsure that you can achieve it? Many of us were dreamers during childhood years. When we were asked what would we want to be later on, we might answered with no doubt, “I want to be famous singer!” “I want to be president!” “I want to have a successful restaurant!” But oftentimes, the reality of life squeezes the dream until we no longer feed it and eventually the dream dies. “Uh, my dream is unrealistic! How can I earn my living with merely singing? I would have a better and stable income if I work as employee in big company. My salary will be guaranteed, I will have fixed working hours, and I will have fun on weekend.”

Many people had a dream, but they do not guard it, nurture it, and they don’t have the determination to achieve it. Life is more than just looking for money. God has planted the seeds of dream inside each of us. He longs to use his children to shine wherever they are, to maximize their potentials, and giving us an abundant life in all aspects.

Surely, there will be many challenges to achieve those dreams. Even parents, our loved ones, could become hindrance to achieve our dreams. But keep on believing that if our dreams come from God which is based on huge passion to bring His kingdom shines on earth, then God himself will enable us and open his way in his time.

On the journey, God may put us in many uncomfortable situations, which require us to do insignificant or small things in regular basis. We may think it is wasting our time because we long to do the big dreams immediately. But God is teaching us at the moment to be faithful.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” –Luke 16:10 [NIV]

Joseph was given a dream that one day he would become the leader of his family.

One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said.  “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!” This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you? But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant. -Genesis 37:5-11 [NLT]

Perhaps one of the things can be learned from the story of Joseph is that we need to be careful to whom we are telling our dreams. Some people will disbelieve and discouraging us. They may laugh at our dreams. Part of guarding well our dreams is that we should be selective with people around us. Surround yourself with those who are supportive and encouraging your dreams! And you know the story goes that Joseph’s dream did not happen instantly. Instead, he went on a downward spiral situations where he was being sold by his brothers as slave to Egypt, got a great job at last at Potiphar’s house, but eventually slandered for sexual harassment by Potiphar’s wife and ended on prison. However, the Bible didn’t say Joseph complain in any of these situations. Instead wherever he was, he was always doing what was best for his master.

Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said. But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 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. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. -Genesis 50:18-21 [NLT]

Joseph did not grow bitterness out of his brothers who sold him as a slave back then. Instead, he knew that even God has purpose behind sufferings which he had endured. God is capable to bring out something good out of evil intentions of men. He did not  get revenge against his brothers, instead he repaid their evil deeds with kindness.

If the dream does not happen yet, take it as your preparation phase. Sufferings and hardships develop character. And character is the main thing that will sustain us whenever we have achieved our dreams. As John Wooden says, “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”

A dream from God most of the times appears as a dream that is so big and seems  impossible to achieve according to our minds. It is because the dream can only be achieved when we rely on God’s strength and not ours. When I was called to be a preacher, I felt, “Can I do it?” And God’s voice speaks so clearly in my heart for the first time (I had never heard God’s voice before then), “Why not?” And that “why not?” changed my life completely. Yes! With God, we can do anything that seems impossible. He will always be with us and with his strength, we can achieve our God’s given dream.

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“For nothing is impossible with God.” –Luke 1:37 [NLT]

Our God is he God of “Why not?” –Leticia Seviraneta

 

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography

The Potter and The Clay

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” -Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

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God usually teaches by using word pictures. It is interesting how He can point out such a great wisdom from merely simple things we see daily. As we read the verse above, we may wonder what does it mean to be illustrated as a clay, while God Himself as our potter. However, this illustration was common on those days when the scripture was written, yet not really common on these days. God led me to dig deeper about this word pictures “The Potter and The Clay.” It has been a fascinating adventure ever since, though I may have not found all the pieces yet. Here is what I learn from the word pictures “The Potter and The Clay” 🙂

1. You are God’s Masterpiece

A clay is merely a clay before it goes to the Potter’s hands. It would be just a bulk of dirt and soils being thrown away somewhere on the street. But as it goes to the Potter’s house, the Potter does not see the clay as merely a clay. He sees it as something he can made out of the worthless clay. At the beginning of human’s creation, he does not see the dust as a mere dust. He saw that He could make the reflection of His image out of it. And that is you and me now.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” -Genesis 2:7

Pottery is not a mass product being made with machines in factory. It is uniquely designed and made by the Potter. It is not an instant product, it is a product of consistency and patience. So are we. You are uniquely designed by the hands of God. Do not struggle to be the same like others because you will not. God sees differences as beauty. Imagine what a boring life will be if everybody looks the same. Meanwhile, as a clay being shaped by the potter takes a long process and some time, so are we. At this moment, God is still not finished with you. If you do not see a happy ending right now, it’s because it’s not the ending yet. God is still not finished. There are still more things to discover, more things to embrace, more love He wants to lavish on you.

2. God has a specific purpose for you

A potter has set in his mind of what he would make before he begins His process. Each pottery is a product of deliberate plan and meaningful purpose. No pottery is an accident. God did not simply just made you and allow you to be born to earth to simply live. Just as a glass made to accommodate water, you are made to do something according to His purpose.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:14

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3. Round, round, round

A clay which has been reshaped into a ball will be thrown to the pottery wheel. Then the potter will wet his hand, turn on the wheel, and his hands will hold the dough of clay steadily. This process looks like a boring one because all we can see is the clay goes round, round, and round. Doesn’t it seem like our lives? Our lives will contain of routine activity which makes us do the same thing every day and at the same time on and on. We get up in the morning, go to work, face the traffic jam, has usual lunch and a view casual conversation with colleague, go home, and go to bed again. We get bored with it. We want to do something extra ordinary or may be to change the world. But we are stuck with boring daily activities. But here, right at this place, God is shaping you. God is more concern on your character rather than your achievements. Thereby, He will deal with it first before He rewards you in achieving your dreams. It has been widely known that, “It takes talent to bring you to the top, but only character will maintain you there.The greater your dreams are, the longer the ’round’ season of preparation in your life. Try to look this season from God’s perspective. Routine stuff should not be boring when we approach it with different attitude, the attitude of gratitude and surrender knowing that God is in control.

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4. The clay must be pressed against every side to avoid cracks

There are times when the potter will press the inner side and both side of the clay. It is meant to ensure that the side will be smooth and leave uncracked after the process. Just like the clay which will feel uncomfortable while the potter is doing this, problems will make you uncomfortable inevitably. Problems in life are not coincidences. God allows it into your life not to break you down, but to strengthen you. You cannot have a strong faith without the storm of doubt. You cannot know what it means to forgive when you have no difficult person to be forgiven. Good and bad, God use it both for your advantage in the end.

5. Being abandoned, but not forgotten

Too much water in the half-made pottery will cause crack when it is being heated. To avoid this, the half-made pottery will be stored in a room tempearture for 1 day or maybe 1 week (depends on its size and shape). In this phase, you may feel like God has abandoned you. You have prayed, prayed, and prayed, but it seems like nothing happens. You wait, wait, and wait, but you start to grow weary in waiting. It is tempting to forget what God is calling you to do. It is tempting to bury the hope that your situation will ever change. But again, God is in control. This is still not the timing yet. God is never in a hurry. You are still a half-made pottery. If He throws you into the fire of furnishing now, you will break down. He may seem slow, but if you keep on trusting Him, one day you’ll reap the sweets fruit of waiting in perseverance.

“At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting -it will happen!” -Habakkuk 2:3

6. Heat makes you stronger

Clay that has been shaped and molded may become beautiful. And as it dries, it becomes harder. But it never achieves its full potential until it has been through the fire. In the great heat of the Potter’s kiln, the clay is transformed. The half-made pottery will be moved to be heated on 1000 degrees of Celcius in order to give more strength to its body. There will be times when conflicts with our loved ones happen in our lives. If we respond to it rightly, it will make the relationship is getting stronger. But if we respond it to our selfish nature, it will not reach its noble purpose. Do not afraid of conflicts, but be prepared to respond it correctly. It is better to hold your tongue rather than speaking out words that you will regret.

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7. All for His Glory

After enduring such a long process, now the shiny and strong pottery is ready to be displayed. As people starts to compliments the pottery, they may start also to wonder, “Who is the potter?” No one compliment the pottery for the sake of the pottery itself. Because on behind of each pottery, there is the reflection of its Potter. There is no space for the pottery to steal the Potter’s glory. As the world recognizes your talents and accomplishments, let it be known to them WHO made you the way you are. Let all the glory goes back to Him.

8. God of a Second Chance

A potter will be greatly offended when his pottery being crushed and thrown away like a rubbish. It is the same thing when we treat people not so valuable. We degrade them with our words, we think ourselves higher than them, and many more. It hurts God. Because they, too, are His reflection who are precious in His sight. But even if the pottery has been crushed into pieces, that does not make all of His work a failure. A potter can make all the pieces become a bulk of raw clay and start over again from the beginning. I don’t know what you’ve been through in your life at this point, but even if the world has crushed you into pieces, God can start over again if you give Him all the pieces. You are a new creation in His hands!

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He who made us, will take care of us very well til the very end

-Leticia Seviraneta

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 Seviraneta-

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 Seviraneta

Grace isn’t Just A Word

“I am a Christian. I make mistakes. I mess up.

But God’s grace is bigger than my sins.” -Unknown

G R A C E isn’t just a word. Grace is not just some kind of doctrine of theology. Grace is not an abstract concept that we find it hard to understand. Grace is a person, and his name is Jesus. We serve a God who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

We may come from different background of belief. Some people believe that they serve an angry God who set rules that they have to obey and punish if they disobey them. These people can become legalistic (they try to follow all the rules as many as they can and look down on those who disobey the rules) or on the other extreme side they can live in constant fear of “not good enough”. But the truth is, none of us can live perfectly, only Jesus can. So in effort to be flawless, we become helpless because we fail often. “Relationship” with God becomes an obligation or lists of things to do to make him “happy”. But I want to present to you the Good News. I hope the truth may engraved in your heart deeply. Because it will set you free 🙂

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1. God hates sin, but loves the sinners.

I beg your pardon? Do you say it correctly? How can it be? Yes, we as human, when we dislike what a person do, we also dislike the person. When your friend constantly lying to you, you immediately dislike him as a whole person. So this concept might be weird according to our human nature. How can we hate what he does to us but at the same time love for who he is?? But that’s our loving and just God. God is holy. That’s why he can’t stand with sin. But God is also love. He is full of love to all human being who also are sinners. God is not mad at you. If you ever have confessed that you are sinners, you can’t save yourself, and declared how you need Jesus as Savior for your life, God sees you now in the light of Jesus. At the cross, God’s wrath to all sins of mankind have been poured out to Jesus and at the same time, His righteousness has been given to those who believed, believes, and will believe in Him! Now, that’s why we call Gospel as “Good News” because it really is a Good News! Call it as a beautiful exchange! This is what’s being described on the song sung by Hillsong, “Beautiful Exchange.”

You were near, Though I was distant

Disillusioned I was lost and insecure

Still mercy fought, For my attention
You were waiting at the door, Then I let You in

Trading Your life, For my offenses
For my redemption, You carried all the blame

Breaking the curse, Of our condition
Perfection took our place

When only love
Could make a way
You gave Your life
In a beautiful exchange

My burden erase, my life forgiven
There is nothing, that could take this love away

My only desire, and sole ambition
Is to love You just the same

When only love
Could make a way
You gave Your life
In a beautiful exchange

When only love
Could break these chains
You gave Your life 
In a beautiful exchange

Holy are You God
Holy is Your name
With everything I’ve got
My heart will sing how I love You

 

2. Nothing that you do could ever make Him love you more nor love you less.

Another weird truth, huh? To grasp this truth, put your feet on a shoes of parents. This is exactly the heart of parents (normally) to their children. They love their children no matter what. Even though their children messed up, no matter how deep their children fall into certain addiction, no matter how their children keeps making troubles wherever they go, they still love them. They love their children too much until they will feel pain whenever their children do so. They love them but at the same time deep down they wish that their children will stop doing those things that will eventually destroy their lives. The same thing goes to children who do everything good for their parents. Their parents may be proud of them, but that doesn’t change the level of their love to them. It will always be 100% unconditional love, because the fact that they are their children. Okay, some parents may not be like that. Because parents are human with flaws. But our God is certainly not human. He is God, He is the perfect loving Father. You can be sure of His love to you will never change.

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You know, I feel my life feels so much lighter when I believe deeply how much my Father loves me no matter what. It encourages me all the more to do good things as a testimony for others to know Him as well. I don’t do good things to earn His favor, as many ‘religions’ emphasise. No, God is already pleased with me because of what Jesus has done at the Cross. And knowing it’s all because of Jesus, gives me no reason to boast. It’s not because of my goodness, it’s not because of what I’ve done. Because in human effort, I will never achieve the ‘good enough’ or even I feel I am good enough, that will be a lie.

3. God is faithful, even when we are faithless.

Human’s relationships are fragile. We cannot stand of betrayal, disrespectful attitude, and so on. We will choose not to be engaged in those kind of relationships because it brings a lot of pain. But our God is not like that. Although we keep rejecting Him, we keep disobeying Him, He is still faithful. He waits for us to come back, to repent with all of our hearts. He is a God of covenant. Covenant is an agreement on ancient times in which the people who involved in it cannot break the vows they have spoken. If they break it, the penalty will be death. God is a God who will bring out what He has promised. When He gave His covenant to mankind first to Abraham, and then to the nation that came out from Him, the Israelites. He will carry it to pass. Even when the Israelites kept disobeying Him, He promised that one day He will embrace them back. The time will come when Israelites will know that He is and always be their only true God. He even used Hosea to describe the love He feels to Israelites. God still loves you and waits for you to come back. Remember, He loves you but not your sins, because He knows it will eventually destroy you.

By realising the depth of His love for us, how can we reject such kind of great love? The way God has done for us through Jesus is what we call as “Grace”. Grace is a gift to the undeserving ones. It’s a good thing if we realise that we don’t deserve it, because it makes us qualified to be receiver of His grace. I believe it is not the fear of the consequences which can change us, but the love and acceptance of God of the way we are. It is not a matter of “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will burn in hell”, but “Hey, do you know how much God loves you? How much He has done for you at the cross? Come to Him and He will fill all your needs of love perfectly with His perfect love. Sure, you don’t deserve that. But God comes to the undeserving ones, so you fit the description!” The heaven isn’t just a place we go after we die, but the heaven is here and now on earth when we abide in His love daily and see the world as God sees it.

Christianity is not a religion. It is not about going to church every Sunday. But your very own relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ. It happens daily, every moment you awake, every minute you spend. It gives you a purpose in life. It fills the emptiness of your heart that can never be replaced by human being. Human may disappoint you for there is no perfect one. But God will never disappoint nor leave you nor stop loving you, because He is a perfect God with a perfect love. He can’t deny how much He loves you and nothing can ever change that. Grace isn’t just a word, it is a person, named, Jesus Christ.

Your faith can only grow as strong as the knowledge of your God. Here are some Bible verses to know more about Him 🙂

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The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” -Psalm 103:8

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?” -Numbers 23:19

“For the LORD your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.” -Deuteronomy 4:31

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” -Psalm 46:1-2

“For this is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” -Psalm 48:14

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LOrd.” -Romans 8:38-39

“God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” -1 Cor 1:9

“…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” -1 John 4:16

Happy enjoying His love for you!

Blessings,
Leticia Seviraneta

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography