*[Patrons] Climbing High in Mt. Blessedness

This devotional reading, in a nutshell, talks about pursuing a much better life in Christ: To leave our present and unsatisfactory lives behind, and to start climbing — and to climb high — in God’s mountain of blessedness. In other words, it tries to convey hope and reassurance that tomorrow can be better for us. That is, if we get on our feet and begin climbing.

And the Word of God does confirm this, that through Jesus Christ we can have a much better life — a much blessed life. We can overcome our problems that would otherwise drive us to despair….

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A Hard-Won Triumph of My Faith

Creative Commons License Last month, July 12, 2020, marked the second-year anniversary of Swordsman of the Word. When I made my first post in this blog two years ago, I was full of hope and expectation about the blessings the future might bring. Well, I never thought that the next two years would turn out to be such a struggle getting this ministry off the ground, and that they would bring me — in addition to the blessings — much pain, hardships, and regrets. And that is because, in the final analysis, Swordsman of the Word had seemed to others to be much too radical and much too ambitious to be attempted by someone like me. A nobody. Gifted, maybe. But still, a nobody.

What I’ve been reminded of recently, however, is that this ministry is ultimately only between me and God. I’m the one whose faith in him is being tested. And I’m the one who is accountable. I’m the one who is standing before him in judgment and giving account of the things I’ve done in regard to it. (As I have declared in Running this Blogging Race Once Again, the only authority I recognize now for this ministry is the Bible, God’s Word.) Therefore, as long as I’m in line with the things God has said, and as long as I have his approval for this work, what others think of Swordsman of the Word doesn’t really matter. People’s opinions (and people’s obstructions) don’t affect its legitimacy, nor will they overcome its power and continuity.

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*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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*Changes in My Writing Plans

Hello friends. There have been some changes in my plans for writing.

First, about Light to My Path:

As I announced, the purpose of this essay collection is “for us to use God’s Word as our guide to life.”

The change is that I’m limiting my Scriptural basis on the books of Psalms and Proverbs only.

However, to make sure that I won’t be amiss in my teaching, especially in presenting the whole of God’s message, I’ll be using two classic commentaries as my primary references: Charles Spurgeon’s The Treasury of David, his phenomenal work on the book of Psalms, and Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.

* * *

Second, about Light of the World:

As I announced, the purpose of this essay collection is “to help you know who Jesus really is — as he is revealed in the Scriptures, and as I have personally experienced him.”

The change is that I’m postponing this collection indefinitely.

Why? I’ve realized that writing this collection isn’t going to be just a matter of course for me…. Instead, it will require much time and effort, things I cannot yet give in the present time.

For example, to talk effectively about Jesus’ earthly life means that I would have to go beyond what the Bible reveals about him in the Gospels, and must know also the geographical, historical, political, and cultural contexts of Palestine during that time.

Furthermore, it is unavoidable that I would have to deal with the many controversies and questions surrounding Jesus, and that is already in the realm of apologetics.

* * *

And third, about Faith Foundations:

This is an essay collection that I proposed, but later postponed. It’s basically about the doctrines of the Christian faith.

Now I’m restoring this collection, because it is my replacement for Light of the World.

My present studies include a primer on systematic theology, and this will be my source of information and ideas for my essays.

My main references will be the three-volume Exploring Christian Theology by Holsteen and Svigel. These are the books we are using in Bible school class.

That is all.

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

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 (2)

Creative Commons License “And I would do anything for love,” declares one famous song. “I’d run right into hell and back.”

“And I would do anything for love!” declares this one famous song, over and over again. “I’ll be there till the final act… And I’ll take the vow and seal a pact.”

And it’s true, isn’t it? People have done a lot of good (and stupid) things for love. Driven by this intoxicating feeling (or by the infuriating lack of it), they have accomplished wondrous deeds: build a palace, write a song, write a poem, or rob a bank.

Love, it seems, does make the world turn on its axis :)

Seriously now. Though I haven’t yet experienced true love with a woman, love is indeed the main driving force in my own life. And like countless others before me, I’ve also done some unbelievable things (some would say stupid) because of it. You know what I’m talking about, my friends. I’m talking about my love for God… for Jesus.

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*This Blog’s New Direction

Hello friends. Here now is the new direction this blog will take for the next few years — in accordance with my new vision for this ministry, and with my now-completed calling from God to become both a teacher and a missionary.

As with the last time I tried to set the direction of this blog some months ago, my primary consideration is still sustainability. With the great changes that are still happening in my life, especially the training I’m undergoing (and will undergo), I want my blogging to be just a matter of course, and not something I have to give much effort to. That is, I want my blogging to be just a natural result of my study of the Bible and of my relationship with God.

Because of this, I have suspended the two essay collections I proposed before — Faith Foundations and Faith Explorations — and will start two new ones instead. Though I’ll still write stand-alone posts from time to time, most of my posts for this blog will fall in either of these two new collections. They are Light to My Path and Light of the World.

I write personal essays — not expository articles — and that means that my writing is subjective and biased, and also that I would give you only minimal historical and cultural backgrounds. But that is okay, and I believe that that is also what you want. After all, my primary purpose for writing is not for you to learn new information, but to help you know God more: himself and his ways.

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Called For the Missions

Creative Commons License I’ve never been the kind of person who constantly watches or reads the news. In fact, oftentimes I know much less than the average TV watcher should know about current events. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t care.

My philosophy about my awareness of the things happening in the world has always been that of limitation: I try to know them only in a general way, without being burdened by them, and only if I need to. Yes, I’m no news buff, no watchman, because honestly, what can I do about this multitude of problems that will make any difference? Rather, as befitting my personality, my focus has been internal. I seek to know God more — the only one who has the power to make a real difference — and to further prepare myself to be of use to him. As the Bible says:

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might…. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. — Ephesians 6:10,12 WEB

However, now that I’m undergoing training for the ministry in Bible school, it is imperative that I start now taking more seriously the world around me: I need now to give also some time in my studies to the world outside.

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It Ain’t About the Money, Nor the Fame (4)

Creative Commons License It’s all about knowing God.

And to know God, to really know God, is to be loved by God. Maybe not exactly in the ways you’ve always wanted. But for sure, to be loved in ways you’ve never thought possible or even imagined.

I know the questions that are burning in your mind right now. Is this really possible? Is this for real? Yes, it is. Because it happened to me.

I don’t know about you, my friend, but when I was much younger — in my teens and young adulthood — I used to think that a love relationship would solve all my emotional problems. All the loneliness and emptiness I felt, and all my pains, would all somehow magically disappear, and I would be filled with joy… if only someone would love me.

That probably sounds familiar to you, eh? Maybe you can even personally relate. This is not the time, however, to talk about the reasons why I was like that, nor to dwell more on the story. And that is because my story was a really troubled one. My woes were more than mere adolescent angst and a need for validation, which I believe all of us go through in our lives.

And so for now just know that, if I am a girl, I wouldn’t love who I was back then. Instead, I would run away fast, as many had indeed done. Because honestly, I was just plain scary. And weird. And I had this black hole in my heart that was screaming, “LOVE ME! LOVE ME!”

IMAGE
Pexels.com

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

If I had been born to a better station in life, I would have undergone psychotherapy — I know this now. As it was, I struggled alone for years. With my identity. With my runaway thoughts and emotions. With loneliness. With rejections. That is, until God found me, and made me fall in love with him. With Jesus.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. — Luke 19:10 WEB

At last… at long last… I’d finally found the love I desperately needed. And yes, it was not what I had imagined, but it was much more than I could ever hope for. Life and love, joy and peace were all literally poured into the black hole of my heart as God took residence, until I was overflowing.

I was never sure of my salvation before; I was then.

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