THURSDAY TUNE #17: For Who You Are

While I was waiting for my ride home, I spent some time reading God’s word while eating my Sour Cream Shake Shake Fries at McDonald’s. I read Genesis 18:1-15 and these verses (10-15) struck me the most:

“Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

It was such a timely reminder and encouragement for me because for the past few days, I was distracted from practicing God’s presence in my every moment. There were times when I would struggle with being sick and I would end up focusing on the hassle of being absent from work and the uncomfortable feeling that I was having. Then, there were moments when I wouldn’t be able to spend time thoroughly studying God’s word after work because I was too tired.

But, God, being the faithful and awesome God that He is, gave me an opportunity to seek Him and dwell on WHO HE IS, tonight. :) In the verses above, Sarah immediately laughed at the possibility of her having a son because she focused more on her limitations and weaknesses than on God’s character.

It humbled me because God reminded me that He is God and I am not. And that if He wills for something to happen, it CAN and WILL happen. So, any mistake or weakness that I/we have won’t hinder God from fulfilling the purpose that He has for us in our lives.

From Google Images

While I was shaking and eating my fries, I realized that I was actually enjoying the Shake Shake Fries (one of the limited promos that McDonald’s has every year). I enjoyed it because of the experience of being able to personally add the powder, shake the fries, and eat it. This realization somehow reminded me of the importance of personally experiencing and knowing God too, especially through prayer and studying His word. It is during these privileged moments with Him, that we are able to hear from Him, speak to Him, intentionally listen to Him, and enjoy His presence and goodness in our lives.

I then remembered a song that talks about worshiping God for WHO HE IS and it really uplifted my spirit. It is actually a very simple song, but, it spoke to my heart tonight and encouraged me to keep on knowing who God is and dwell on His goodness, faithfulness, and grace. I hope that it will encourage you as well. :)

 

“For Who You Are” by Hillsong

Standing here in Your presence
Thinking of the good things You have done
Waiting here patiently
Just to hear Your still small voice again

Holy, righteous, faithful to the end,
Saviour, healer, redeemer and friend

I will worship You for who You are
I will worship You for who You are
I will worship You for who You are
Jesus

My soul secure, Your promise sure
Your love endures always

Encourage yourself one tune at a time. :)

S’mores and Something More

For the past few months, I’ve been praying for God’s direction for me in ministry. Specifically, if it is His will for me to continue serving Him at CCF Makati’s Friday Night Light (FNL) and be a facilitator at the True Life Singles Retreat or to serve in another ministry. I was praying for this because I was struggling with managing my time and resources since I get off from work late and I don’t live near CCF Makati. For the longest time, I felt like God was so silent about this, but by His grace, He gave me an answer three weeks ago.

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Last August 3, I had my quiet time with the Lord at home. I poured out my heart to him again, humbled myself before him, and told him: “Lord, I want to hear your voice more than anything else right now. I’m listening, Lord. Please speak to me tonight. Please give me direction. Thank You…” After writing that, I stared at space for a few minutes and when I was about to write some more, I noticed this…

You

The word “You” was on the next page and it was the only word written there at that time. God was showing me that life really is all about Him. It’s all about Jesus. Ministry is about Him and not about my comfort, or my skills in serving Christ, or about the number of girls I handle, or where I’m active in ministry, or who I’m friends with in ministry, etc. It’s all about “You”, Jesus.

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Photo taken by Flonnah Valencia

I spent the rest of the night reading the first part of Genesis 12 and it was about the Call of Abram. He obeyed God when he was instructed to go the land that God will show him. And one of the things that struck me in that chapter was verse 7, where God said “To your offspring, I will give this land.” It made an impression on me because a few verses before that, I read that Sarai was barren. And now, God is telling Abram that he will give that land to his offspring.

It was encouraging because it reminded me of God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and power even in the midst of my weaknesses and “impossible” & difficult situations. Abram built an altar after God said “I will give this land” and it was also nice because it showed that Abram acknowledged God’s presence at that time and in that place. I was encouraged to trust in God again.

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After having my quiet time, God prompted me to read through my old blog posts, to remind me of my moments with God for the past year. I then happened to read my blog post about S’more Cookies & last year’s FNL teambuilding (http://encouragingtreats.com/smore-cookies/) and while I was reading it, it seemed like I was a different person back then. I was so full of encouragement, light, peace, and joy.

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Jeff serving the S’more Cookies (Photo by Jill Bantang)

I even wrote this: “Maybe God gave us the sticky situations/rollercoaster ride to remind the FNL team that in the future as we serve Him in ministry, we may also encounter similar sticky situations and even sudden changes in our plans. However, I’m learning that sticky situations actually encourage us to focus on God’s grace, faithfulness and love. They are opportunities for us to seek Him more especially as we make decisions. Also, they help develop our hearts and character as we trust in His sovereignty.”

God humbled me that night as I read through my old blog and He encouraged me to be like the Nicole who blogged about this last year. She didn’t worry about her struggles and concerns in ministry. She was focused on Jesus.

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

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At the end of the blog post, I noticed something that struck me. “Did you know that the original name for “S’more” was “Some More”? This is because when the people tasted S’mores before, they constantly asked for more! Similarly, in our teambuilding experience, I realized that although we didn’t ask for more, God decided to give us some more problems and sticky situations for His good purposes. I’m glad He did! :)”

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And that was it. God spoke to me. I honestly believe that God answered the prayer of my heart that night because when I read S’mores or “Some More” in my blog, I remembered this year’s True Life retreat which was entitled “Something More”. By faith and by His grace, I went to the retreat last weekend. :)

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Photo taken by RJ Magno

I praise and thank Jesus for the privilege of serving and knowing Him more in the True Life Singles Retreat. I’ve witnessed so many changed lives and hearts surrendered to Him and I know that it was only by His grace. It really was a humbling experience for me because I was reminded of God’s indescribable grace and love for me.

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I really cannot imagine my life without You, Jesus. You have been and you will always be everything to me. I just can’t explain how you’ve changed and renewed my heart, mind, and life. Thank You so much for dying on the cross for me so that I can spend eternity with You in Heaven. Thank You so much for being with me and for being my Risen Savior, Lord, and best friend.

Jesus, You are worth my every cent, every second, every breath, and every step. :)

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Photo taken from Flonnah Valencia’s camera
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My wonderful ladies at the True Life Retreat.
Photo taken from Flonnah Valencia’s camera

“Too much to make sense of it all
I know that Your love breaks my fall
The scandal of grace, You died in my place
So my soul will live

Oh to be like You
Give all I have just to know You
Jesus, there’s no one besides You
Forever the hope in my heart.

It’s all because of You, Jesus.”

[Scandal of Grace by Hillsong]

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Flonnah publicly declaring her desire and decision to follow Jesus. :)
Photo taken from Flonnah Valencia’s camera
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Photo taken from Flonnah Valencia’s camera

And if I may just add, the food committee served s’mores in the retreat. When I saw those treats, my heart melted and I smiled because I remembered how God encouraged me to step out in faith and serve Him in this ministry. Thank You, Lord! :)

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Photo taken from Flonnah Valencia’s camera
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Photo taken from Flonnah Valencia’s camera
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My new BarCARda. :)

TRUE LIFE SINGLES RETREAT VIDEO: http://vimeo.com/73079435

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT: https://www.facebook.com/ccffridaynightlight

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Iron Chef Apprentice Edition

Exactly one year ago, I was privileged to attend one of the events of Legend Hotels International Corporation (LHIC): “Iron Chef Apprentice Edition”. I got excited when I received the invite from one of the event coordinators, because I love watching cooking shows and competitions. There’s just something nice about seeing chefs excel and express their personalities, knowledge, passion, and creativity in the meals they prepare. And of course, it is always a delight to see the meals plated beautifully.

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One of the hosts started the program with prayer and explained the objectives and mechanics of the contest afterwards. One of the things that I really appreciated about the LHIC’s Iron Chef was the opportunity to encourage the kitchen staff of the company. Surprisingly, the staff was the main highlight of the event because even though they weren’t professional chefs, they were chosen to participate and compete in this event.

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Upon entering The Legend Villas’ function room, I was warmly welcomed by the staff, hosts and judges of the event, along with the other guests.

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While waiting for the program to start, they served us these refreshing drinks and a plate of sisig lumpia (This was really delicious especially when dipped in vinegar with labuyo).

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Special Citrus drink and Homemade Iced Tea
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Sisig Lumpia

 

Each team was tasked to prepare four dishes that incorporated the secret ingredient (Chicken) and they were instructed to finish preparing all of the meals within two hours!

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I watched each team work hard and coordinate well with their respective members. It was exciting because as we observed all the teams, we noticed that they had different approaches, ideas, and presentations. One of the teams even entertained the crowd by cooking with fire in one of their pans.

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Honestly, at that time, they looked like professional chefs. For some reason, they were confident in what they were doing and although they were challenged and pressured, they managed to successfully finish the dishes on time. After two hours of preparing and cooking, the dishes of the different teams were reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges: Ptr. Warfil de Leon, Ms. Luchie Callanta, and Ms. Dang Uy Koe. I also had the honor of tasting each dish, along with other food bloggers.

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Mixed vegetable dressed with pinakurat vinaigrette top with grilled chicken breast
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Grilled Garlic Chicken with Mango Salsa Puree

 

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Tinolang Manok sa Pakwan

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Kinulob Luyang Chicken with Yellow Rice

After going through all of the meals prepared by the teams, the judges finally announced the winning team.  At the end of the contest, one of the judges gave a short speech about giving our best in whatever work we do because we know that we are working for the Lord. He then closed us in prayer and thanked God for the learning experience, fun time, and for the participants, that they would continue to grow and excel in their field of work.

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Ptr. Warfil de Leon

I went home that day inspired because I witnessed how this event encouraged the kitchen staff to excel more in cooking, preparing meals, and even serving others through culinary skills. The organizers of the event saw the potential in these people and they intentionally gave them an opportunity to grow and become the best cooks/chefs they can be.

Pastor Peter Tan-Chi once said “When you look at people, don’t look at them where they are today, but look at how they can become through Christ in the future.”

I’m learning to use my words and actions towards others wisely, so that I may also encourage them to be the best they can be for God’s glory. If ever you’re in a situation where God is prompting you to sincerely appreciate, help, or encourage someone, don’t hesitate to do so. :)

It says in Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called Today…” :)

 

Thank you to the organizers of the Legend Hotels International Corporation’s Iron Chef Apprentice Edition. I enjoyed my time with you. May God bless you more and more. :)

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My tweet last August 18, 2012. :)
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Special treat from the organizers of the event: Lola Maria’s delicious, moist chocolate cupcakes.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)