The Real Winner

READ: Psalm 37

A severe headache attacked late Friday night. I thought I wouldn’t make it to the 4:00 a.m. Dawn Prayer in our church. But after a short good night rest and deep sleep, I woke up Saturday at 3:30 a.m. feeling pretty well with an utterly vivid dream I just couldn’t forget. . . .

In my dream was the Pound for Pound King, Manny Pacquiao. He won the fight against Bradley, but he did not get what he should have gotten—something that’s supposed to be his!

Knowing that God sometimes gives revelations and warnings through dreams (in accordance with His Word), I told my husband confidently that Manny would win. While watching the Pacquiao-Bradley match, I even declared to my hubby and daughter the interpretation of my dream: that it’s a “sure win” except that Manny wouldn’t get Bradley knocked out.

After the 12th round, when everyone of us including our boxing hero was confident of the result, the announcement of the winner brought a big shock and disbelief. Bradley won (115-113) with the judges’ split decision. One sports commentator exclaimed, “Whew! It’s unbelievable! I am flabbergasted.” Manny Pacquiao himself voiced it out, “I respect the decision, but one  hundred percent I believe that I won the fight. . . . I don’t know what happened.”

The whole world (only in exception of Bradley and the two judges) has been so upset. I myself was fretting over a completely disgusting result, until the accurate interpretation of my dream surfaced:

Manny Pacquiao actually won. That something he was deprived of–that’s supposed to be his–stands for the Welterweight Champion’s belt. It belongs to him. For some reason that the two judges succumbed to, the belt was instead given to the undeserving Timothy Bradley.

Who is not smart enough to smell deceit or detect an outright questionable decision? We can go on with endless sighs and grumbling. But at the end of the day, we need to go back to our Sovereign God who is a God of purpose.

When the moment of truth gets shaded with lies and deception, it’s time to ask, “What does the Word of God say? What does God want us to do?”

Thank God that the winner knows how to respond. He’s indeed shaped for victory as depicted in the second to the last chapter of my first educational and inspirational book, Rediscovering Your Intelligence.

A winning attitude makes a real winner. A timely reminder from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (TEV) goes, “Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.”

“… Do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. A little while and the wicked will be no more, though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.”

–Psalm 37:7,10-13

Please feel free to review my book “Rediscovering Your Intelligence” on askDavid.com

Pacman is a Fertile Soil

READ: Matthew 13:1-23

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Who doesn’t know Manny Pacquiao (aka Pacman)? Not only that he’s every Filipino’s pride, even Hollywood celebrities and NBA stars would take a break just to meet the World’s Greatest Boxer.

I am not exactly a big fan of boxing, but I see Manny’s life as an inspiration. My book Rediscovering Your Intelligence highlights in Chapter 6, “The Real Thing that Counts”:

. . . There’s something about the phenomenal boxing champion that really draws my attention. . . .

When asked how he managed to come out victorious in 2008 over another boxing legend, Oscar dela Hoya, Pacquiao shared one thing he had learned that applies to everyday life: “Don’t tell God how big is your problem. Instead, tell your problem how big is your God.”

Although it sounds like the boxer got the quote from a Christian book, a preacher or a spiritual adviser, the statement goes to unveil his heart. Making it a point to pray before and after every fight and to acknowledge God on worldwide television for every victory—is more than just being religious. I believe Manny Pacquiao has a heart that seeks and reveres his God.

When a pastor had left this comment (on my post “Lesson from Pacquiao and Marquez”) that Manny is the humblest boxer he’s ever known, even though he doesn’t share the “same faith” with him, I replied: “I believe it won’t be long and he will soon be one of us.” Although honestly speaking, I was inclined to assume then that he was already a believer. But thank God that while I was wrong with my presumption, my words that he will soon become a Christian have been fulfilled! Online news and social media updates reveal that the Pound for Pound King has just recently met the King of All Kings.

The boxing icon is not someone who could forever be overwhelmed with what the world has to offer. While some extremely popular and wealthy personalities do not see their need for God, Pacman now confesses, “Without Christ, I am nothing.” A video circulating through Facebook even speaks of the champ quitting his vices and now getting addicted to Bible studies.

Fame and the deceitfulness of wealth are still out to choke anyone to death and destruction. A genuine seeker of the truth, nonetheless, will be free from those thorns.

“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they  hear. . . . But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

– Matthew 13:16, 23

  Please feel free to review my book “Rediscovering Your Intelligence” on askDavid.com

If God is For You

READ: Zephaniah 3:14-20

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My first formal book launch on Friday afternoon (December 2nd) in a technological college made me a bit anxious. The librarian who coordinated the event with us reminded that the school could only provide the venue and that the program should run for an hour and extend for another 30 minutes for a question and answer portion and book-signing.

With all the preparations and details to be finalized, my heart pounded and my mind started entertaining these thoughts: “What if no one will show up? What if only five or ten students will make it to attend the launching program?”

All I could do was ask, “Wait Lord, did I make a mistake here?” I knew it that God normally answers through His Word when our minds are flooded with questions or doubts. So I grabbed my devotional guide and Bible. The passage for that day goes: “He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you” (Zephaniah 3:17). The verse simply came to life and silenced all anxieties. It assured me that while the number of my audience may not reach 100, I have One who is more than enough. My Facebook page fans (or likes) may not increase dramatically, but I can take joy from the Greatest Cheer Leader one could ever have. He is worth more than a million fans. His commendation is priceless!

Turn to the sidelines; that’s God cheering your run. Look past the finish line; that’s God applauding your steps. Listen for him in the bleachers, shouting your name. Too tired to continue? He’ll carry you. Too discouraged to fight? He’s picking you up. God is for you. –Max Lucado

Lesson from Pacquiao and Marquez

READ: Psalm 147

Watching the Pacquiao versus Marquez third match yesterday made me a little anxious of Pacman being outsmarted. Just like almost everybody else watching from television, I thought Marquez was so good that he was landing real solid punches. Thanks to my hubby who knows better than I do when it comes to boxing. He was also more focused as we were watching, so he explained that our champion actually outpunched the Mexican challenger (as proven by the CompuBox stats).

marquezBut wait, there was Marquez raising his clenched fists at the end of the 12th round! Surprised smile  He simply looked like he was declaring his victory! How could he presume he just won without hearing the final decision of the judges? Isn’t it a boxing protocol to do your best on the ring and leave the results to the assigned pundits? Confused smile

On the opposite end of the ring was the humble Manny Pacquiao, probably nervous of the soon to be announced verdict. Aware of his limitations and mannypraysknowing that he had to wait for the announcement, he resorted to his habit of going to his corner to bow down and pray after each fight.

Some critics and viewers may justify that Juan Manuel displayed rightful confidence. In the spiritual realm, however, I saw two opposing spirits: Pride versus Humility. Pride exudes haughtiness, not being able to submit to authorities or accept defeat. Humility does have uncertainties . . . although trusting in the greater power of his Creator.

In the end Humility wins. He and his supporters do not even have to celebrate or defend themselves. . . . Pride and his camp continue ranting. With this, they go on to prove who the real losers are. . . . I hope you’re not one of them.

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” –Matthew 23:12

All About Faith

READ: Hebrews 11: 1-40

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Our first overseas mission trip as a family gave us our much-needed big leap of faith. We heard about going to Taipei, to be on staff in the first Family Ministry School in Taiwan. Our visa and airfares were released. The pocket money and the ground fees necessary for our more than three months of stay, however, was not visible yet. While we believed that God would bless us, we never wanted to go empty-handed.

Can we survive, without a stable support base, in a developed city with its high cost of living? Hebrews 11:1 echoed a revelation, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Despite the lack of cash and financial support, we finally decided to go, knowing faith that doesn’t take risk is no faith at all.

A few hours before boarding the plane, something remarkable occurred in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Departure Lounge while having our quiet time. The Bible passage was right on time for our situation. We left only with a few dollars in our wallet and we did not know how much money was in our bank account—we simply had no time to check through an ATM. It was walking on the waters, indeed! But we were at peace to go. No more last minute doubts or worries. We turned to our our devotional book and it read: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing (Psalm 34:8,10).”

We believe it couldn’t be a coincidence. We almost cried as we read the passage that reminded and assured us of God’s faithfulness. We also went through trying times. But from day 1 through our last day in Taiwan, God worked in ways we simply did not expect.

About three years later, my two kids and I were preparing to visit my husband Joel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Being a wife of an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) this time, my eyes were opened to reality and the practicality of life. With the world economic crisis that might not get better, I was contemplating whether we should go or not: “Why not save the money, instead of spending the relatively big amount in a less-than-a-month visit? We knew it how to hear, believe God and take a step of faith, but maybe faith should only be for those who are in missions and full-time ministry.”

A little hesitant to pack and get ready for the trip, I wasn’t expecting that God’s preliminary confirmation for Taiwan would be the same go signal for Malaysia. Isaiah 55:5a once again prompted, Surely you will summon nations you know not and nations that do not know you will hasten to you.” With such a reassuring declaration that came as a personal encouragement, I had no more reasons nor excuse not to go….

Although I had set aside my new devotional guide while waiting at the Clark International Airport, I opened the small book when we were already in Malaysia. Guess what was the passage for our flight date—it was Psalm 34:8, 10—exactly the same Scripture that had enlightened me at NAIA, prior to leaving for Taiwan.

The next surprise came through an anointed worship service. The Chinese Malaysian pastor preached on Isaiah 55. Each verse seemed to have come to life as the pastor was reading the entire chapter. I couldn’t help but cry in awe with the realization that I did not make a mistake—it was not an accident that I was there, hearing the same Scripture which had pushed me to go. I was thankful, at the same time, to have chosen to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

As “…faith comes from hearing the message (Romans 10:17a),” faith is for everyone who has ears to hear. No matter where we are, what we are doing and how much we earn—be it working with a marginalized income in a small factory or  with the high-paying corporate world, or serving in a non-salaried mission organization—each one of us is called to live by faith.

The world says, “To see is to believe.” While it’s too tempting or even natural to live by what we see, no other lifestyle is more rewarding and pleasing to God than living by faith.

You move and live by faith when you act based on what you hear from God, even if you do not see it yet with your own eyes.

Reality Test

READ: Matt 6:24-34 (NIV)

My husband and I have been serving as missionaries under a non-salaried mission organization. While we raise our own support, we’ve experienced both living in lack and abundance and yet have learned to live a carefree life, with Matthew 6 really sinking in our hearts.

My family of origin, though, couldn’t fully accept our God-given vocation. My sister would often worry about me and ask, “What about going back to real work?… So what about your plans?… Your children? Don’t you have plans for their future?”

What sensible and practical questions that we had never seriously thought of. When I tried to put on my sister’s world view glasses, I actually began to ask myself, “Are we being irresponsible for not even thinking about our children’s future?” We have a seven-year-old daughter and a baby boy who both have a lot of growing needs. “Can we afford to raise them or give them good education?”

Honestly, I was caught unprepared and even a bit upset to answer my sister’s inquiries. I didn’t want to sound spiritual. But at the back of my mind, I know and I am confident of the answer. The first requirement in our calling is to trust God. He’s the Boss! We’ve seen His faithfulness in other people’s lives and in our lives as well. We only have to count His blessings and be faithful to His call. No more question marks…

I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed.
— Psalm 37:25-26