*Patrons Freebie #3

Hello friends. Yesterday, July 12, 2020, marked this blog’s second-year anniversary. Truly, I wanted to celebrate it with you, and I planned to post a brand-new essay — it would’ve also been my official return to blogging — but I wasn’t able to finish on time the one I’m working on right now. And so, though it’s already a bit late, I’m giving you two gifts instead.

Because my top priorities have always been this blog and my preparations for the ministry, I was yet unable to build my portfolio and my business for Patreon. I aim to start doing that again soon, but for now, as my gifts to you, I’ve opened to the public the two devotional reflections I wrote last year, before I got sidetracked… :)

Enjoy them, and God bless you! (Don’t forget to download the PDFs!)

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Some Measures of Faith

Creative Commons License So this is it. After a whole year of making preparations and laying down the foundations, I’m finally starting my “real work” for this blog — the first of my collections of essays, Faith Foundations. Will I measure up to the promises I’ve made?

But first I want to thank you, dear readers, for sticking by me through this difficult first year of blogging. There are not many of you yet, but I value the trust you are giving me.

For this first post I will explain my philosophies behind this essay collection in particular, and my biblical and theological studies in general. This is entitled Some Measures of Faith because there are some things that we need to take on faith — you as the reader, and me as the writer — as we progress in this series, at least in the beginning.

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Blogging Thoughts

Creative Commons License This post is the start of a new category for this blog: musings. A set of short reflections on related topics. And I created this new category because sometimes I have many things to say, but don’t have the time nor the energy to write them down as essays. This is also a good way to make the regularity of my posting more consistent.

I am all set to begin writing for the first of the two essay collections I announced, Light to My Path. I am also all set to begin writing earnestly my devotional reflections for Patreon. But before I do these, I thought that I should write first a few things about this ministry. A kind of a wrap up for the months that passed by.

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My Side of the Story (4)

Creative Commons License If we believe in God, or even in just the existence of God, we acknowledge that there is someone who is far greater than us in power, in knowledge, in wisdom. And yet, isn’t it odd, that despite this acknowledgment, many of us are still trying to live our lives in our own ways? Maybe it’s because we aren’t just religious enough for God to matter to us?

Well, actually, it’s not odd, but makes sense. If the only things we know about this God is that he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, then we probably wouldn’t entrust to him our lives.

But we Christians know God much more than that (I hope). He is all those things, and more. God is also holy. God is love. He is just. But he is also merciful. Our Father. Our Lord and Master. Our Savior. Our Counselor.

And so we acknowledge God — that he is indeed far greater than us in power, in knowledge, in wisdom — and we try to live our lives according to his ways.

But here now is my question: Having thus acknowledge our own smallness compared to God, why is it then that sometimes we act as if we already know everything there is to know about him, his Word, and his ways?

And that’s just ironic, isn’t it? From knowing almost nothing to knowing everything. Or is this kind of attitude simply inherent in us as human beings?

My friends, this is just a loving reminder. The Bible tells us to lean not on our own understanding, and to see not ourselves as wise, but to trust in God and fear him instead (Proverbs 3:5,7). God himself reminds us of the reason why:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8-9 WEB

And you need to hear this reminder because my subject for this last part of my essay is a hot one — hearing and obeying God’s voice. Or, in broader terms, knowing his ways.

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My Side of the Story (3)

Creative Commons License There is no question that, besides having the assurance of eternal salvation, a Christian also has the promise of a blessed life here on earth.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus speaks about having our needs provided for if we “seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness” (WEB). In John 10:10, he also speaks about having come for his sheep so “that they may have life, and may have it abundantly” (WEB).

This same promise can be found in the Old Testament. The writer of the first Psalm compares the righteous man who loves God’s Word to “a tree planted by the streams of water, that produces its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither” (WEB). But God himself declared this promise most beautifully:

It shall happen, if you shall listen diligently to my commandments which I command you today, to love Yahweh your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. I will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. — Deuteronomy 11:13-15 WEB

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It Ain’t About the Money, Nor the Fame (3)

Creative Commons License It’s all about knowing God.

And knowing God means living your life according to his Word: his commandments, his values, and his ways.

And perhaps there is nothing more radical (and more scorn-garnering) than working to succeed in God’s Kingdom, but not in this world:

To hope and work for things unseen, yet believed in.

To find joy and fulfillment in a work well-accomplished — rather than a work well-applauded.

To adhere to ancient principles of good conduct in the midst of today’s ultramodern and spiritually-bankrupt culture.

And to aspire to greatness, not by seeking positions of influence and power, but by becoming the lowest — serving God by serving all.

IMAGE
Pexels.com | Unsplash.com | Openclipart.org

Note: This post is part of the series My Testimony.

The above might have made you confused, my friend. After all, if you look around you, there are many Christian leaders who have sought success and power just like anyone would — and except maybe for their add-ons of so-called “Biblical principles,” the methods they have used to achieve these things do not differ much from the rest.

Well, I don’t have yet the authority and knowledge to call them out, if they are really in error, but let me show you something, my friend. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and the one we are supposed to follow, exemplified the type of leadership that he wants for his disciples, and that is servant leadership.

Jesus summoned [his disciples], and said to them, “You know that they who are recognized as rulers over the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant. Whoever of you wants to become first among you, shall be bondservant of all. For the Son of Man also came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” — Mark 10:42-45 WEB

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The Price I Pay for Victory

Creative Commons License I’ve just finished making my to-do lists using a new method: markdown and HTML. Dividing my many tasks into different categories and subcategories — my tasks for the various aspects of my life and work — I then write my lists in plain text files using a simple markdown editor. These text files are individually converted to HTML pages, to be viewed in a web browser. To make my browsing efficient, I’ve added a basic system of page linking, just like in a website.

The result? Not only are my lists much easier to update now, and to adapt to changes compared to, say, using a task-management software, but my own minimal design also gives me a good overview and summary of my tasks, making prioritizing much easier. The states of my life and work, and my direction have all become clearer, and thus lifting much of the pressure I’ve been feeling lately.

Now, if only life itself is as easy to manage and to understand as our lists of things to do….

Because oftentimes, as we deal with our problems and struggles every day, we can become so focused on what is in front of us, that we forget to consider the bigger picture. We can forget how the pieces of our lives might fit together in the overall scheme of things. This doesn’t sound good, right? After all, we want to make the best of our lives, and so we don’t want to waste our limited time doing things that don’t really matter.

But I’m saying to you now, my friend, that as long as we also don’t forget to thank God continually for all the things he has done for us, and as long as we take an occasional break and try to keep everything in perspective, there is nothing wrong with this: To be focused on our present concerns, and to forget the rest.

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*My Present Course

Note: This post is obsolete. I’ve already written about my new present course.

Hello friends. I’m laying down the direction this blog will take for the next several months. There have been some changes in my plans.

As you might have read in my post, An Assignment I Can’t Do Alone, this website (now a ministry) is an assignment I received from God, and I have had serious misgivings about starting this. One major reason for my doubts were my circumstances: I had very little resources, I struggled with my finances, and I still had responsibilities for my family. And guess what? Even though I have obeyed by faith and Swordsman of the Word is now up and running, my circumstances haven’t yet changed much since I began all this, except that I now have this added responsibility, a big one: running this ministry.

My friends, the inescapable fact is that I can’t do much for this ministry in my present situation. I simply can’t. Another inescapable fact is that, though I know God is blessing me now because of my obedience, the changes in my life that I’ve been praying for won’t happen overnight. They need time to be worked out.

Therefore, I am seeing the next several months as my transition period — from where I am now, to the place where I can truly work for God because he has provided for my needs.

The good news is that God doesn’t expect me to produce beyond what I am capable of. There is this story in the Bible, the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), which clearly shows that God expects results only according to the abilities he has given.

And so, the question is, what can I produce now for Swordsman of the Word, given my present situation and abilities? The essays I’ve already been writing, of course.

This then is my present direction: To continue with my personal essay writing, and to hold back my other plans (particularly my plan to write articles and Bible studies) to a later (and proper) time.

And as already established, my essays will have the general theme of overcoming. I hope that these will be a great help to many.

See you all then in my next essay!

Notice: This post is not included in the CC license.

It All Belongs to Him

Creative Commons License And so, yeah. The decision has been made and acted upon. For better or for worse, I’m now a full-time blogger for my Lord Jesus Christ — with no visible support except for his grace, and with no plans of action except for his ways.

With this essay I am closing this series of founding documents for Swordsman of the Word. Things have not turned out as I imagined them when I started this website nearly a month ago; rather, they have turned out to be more beautiful. Who would have thought that I’d become a Patreon creator, and not just a blogger? Who would have thought that I’d share my writings freely through Creative Commons? And who would have thought that I’d serve now God full-time through this blog, instead of blogging being just a “sideline” while I do some “real work”?

Even this very essay has not turned out as I imagined. I had thought of working on a previous draft, to talk now at length about the greatest reason why I’m doing all this, which is my love for God. But the supposed-to-be short introduction had expanded into more than 700 words, so that I deemed it wise to shelve that draft for another time, and to write instead about these topics that I’ve discovered to be far more important to me than I first realized.

You see, there is a lot of advice out there on how to be successful — as a blogger in particular, and as a creator in general. They talk about how to write effective blog posts, how to market myself and grow my audience, how to stay motivated, etc. And I would certainly follow them, no doubt — if I am your normal blogger and creator. But I’m not. And so I thought that, as a closing to these founding essays, I’d share my philosophy about these matters.

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*Patrons Freebie #1

It is July, not January, but with everything I’ve been doing lately — the launching of my website, Swordsman of the Word, and the launching also of my Patreon page to find support for my writing — it really feels like a new year for me. Indeed, I “stand upon the verge of the unknown” as I work towards possessing my promised land.

This is actually an act of faith, starting this Patreon page. I don’t have yet many followers in my website, and I don’t have yet any network. But God’s direction has been clear about this, and so here I am, building this channel through which God’s supply would come — hoping for those “springs that shall never dry,” for those “fountains and streams that shall never be cut off.”

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