December 19, 2012

Christmas Miracle

There once a time when every child believes in one thing called miracle. It was a time when they believe in magical creatures as the fairy tales told them. A princess being awaken by a kiss by her true love, magical carpet flies and takes you to anywhere, gifts from Santa Clause each year, and other kinds of impossibilities turn to possible in their imaginations. It was a time when a child believes they can do anything, be anyone whom they want to be. No hesitation in answering what they want with eyes full of wonder and belief that they will receive it. Yet as time goes by, as children turn to adults, miracle almost sound like an alien to them. It is getting hard to believe what they do not see moreover what most people think as impossible. 

What is a miracle actually? It is more than simply the impossible turn to be possible. It is the supernatural intervention of God in crisis of life. We know that it is so natural to feel devastated in the midst of life's problems. It is natural to think how big our problem is and wonder how would we overcome it. But miracle does not happen when we merely use our physical eyes and our measurement of the problem's size. It always begins with courage to open our spiritual eyes and dare to believe on what God can do with our problems. Miracle can only occurs when a seed of faith that God can do all the impossible is being planted deeply in our hearts.

"For nothing is impossible with God." -Luke 1:37

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). He is still the God who opened Sarah's womb so that she conceived and gave birth to Isaac on 90 years of age (Genesis 21:2). He is the God who opened the Red Sea and let Israelites crossed it (Exodus 14:21-22). He is the God who made the sun stand still as Joshua prayed so that Israel would defeat the Amorites on that very day (Joshua 10:12-13). He is the God who made Gideon defeated the Midianites and Amalekites and all the children of east which was so great in their numbers as the sand by the seaside with merely 300 men (Judges 7). He is the God who make virgin Mary conceived and gave birth to Jesus Christ, the Saviour or the world. He is the God who made the blind sees, the lame walks, the deaf hears, the mute speaks, the sick heals, the weak strengthens, the fearful to become courageous. God did so many miracles in the past and He still does miracles every day in our lives. So the question is not whether God is still make miracles or not but rather does He find a heart that believes in miracles and by then allowing Him to accomplish what He is going to do?


"For the eyes of the Lord behold all the earth, and give strength to those who with a perfect trust in him.." - 2 Chronicles 16:9 [Douay-Rheims Bible]

Is there any circumstance that you find it hard to deal with? Bear it with patience, for miracle is on its way. Do you believe it? Sometimes God changes our circumstances immediately, but most of the time he allows some time to build up our faith upon Him. The miracle is not the main thing, but Him. It takes a huge shifting from seeing what we want to occur with whom we meet in the journey, God himself. And our eyes can only see Him behind the scene arranging his beautiful plans as we maintain the light of hope to glow in our hearts. 

Hope is like a glimpse of light in the pit of darkness. Although it is just a tiny light, but it strengthens and gives reason to walk toward it. Living with small light is still much better than having no light at all. Sadly, too many people shut down their light of hope. They get discouraged. They get stuck in their circumstance and even grow bitter. And that is what gives hindrance for miracle to come true. Without any hope that you will harvest someday, you will not sow anything on the ground. And even the rain comes and waters the soil, there won't be anything grow in it for there are no seeds planted. Keep up your light of hope, for we will reap if we do not grow weary.

"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." -Galatians 6:9


The difference between our dreams and reality is ... time. We want our dreams and miracle happens right now, but God simply knows the best time for it. Anything that is easy to get will be easy to let go. Things that we wait for quiet a time will always gives us greater satisfaction than things we wait for a second. But again in the end, it's not about the miracle, but the One who makes it. It's all about God. And it may take some time to realise that the greatest miracle in our life is Jesus Christ. It doesn't sound sophisticated nor trendy, but it is true. God's greatest intervention in your life is when He died at the cross for our sins. It is when we are in the crisis of life and having no hope to restore our relationship with God, Jesus came. Meek and unnoticed. A life-changing act who changed us from a notorious sinner to a noble saint. It is all because of him alone. 




So on this Christmas, I reduce all my wish lists. I want to know Jesus for who he really is. And if it takes storms to know how powerful He is to calm it down, then let there be storms in life. If it takes moments of darkness to know that he is light, then let there be darkness in life. If it takes ordinary days to know his simple blessings of life, then let there be gratitude for each day. I run and chase for temporary 'miracle' but I realise that I already have one. I waited for His intervention in my problems, but I realise that He already did 2,000 years ago at the cross. He is still the One who says, "Be still and know that I am your God (Psalms 46:10). I was blind but now I see. I do have problems but now I know that God is in control. Jesus is my miracle and as I grow to become more like Him, then I will be a miracle for someone's life. Isn't that what Christmas is all about? :)

To love means loving the unloveable.
To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.
Faith means believing the unbelievable.
Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.
-Gilbert K. Chesterton


I wish you all a very blessed Christmas this year :)

Blessings,
Leticia Seviraneta

December 10, 2012

The Gift to a Man



As the love touches a human's heart, the spring has begun. All the world just seems so beautiful, seems so right. We smile, we laugh. No wonder people who watch us think that we are so blind and deaf. It seems like we're living in another world, an alien to their world. Some give gifts, some give services. Some praise, some encourage. Some pursue,some wait. Some sing, some listen. Some write letter, some read. All of these things are the outflow when you love someone. You can never finish to list on crazy things people will do driven by such an emotion of love. Amazing isn't it? If love as an emotion can do that, what would it do as a life-time promise? How would it look like?


When love has been transformed into a covenant, its quality will not be decreased through times as many 'love' do. Its love isn't based on physical appearance, yet the outworking of unconditional love. The world keeps focusing on the outside, yet God sees the inside. The spirit which keeps growing over time in love of God will always find its beauty until the end. And that is captivating. And that is what makes covenant love become more beautiful beyond words. The covenant love has one theme: commitment. It promises to never leave their partner no matter what happens. It motivates effort to make the journey of love becomes more enjoyable and not just merely enduring. Of course, it takes hard work from both parties. It takes a sacrifice of ego and only seek how to please their God and partner. Since the journey will not be easy, maturity is definitely required. 

We often think that love begins in spring. Yet it actually begins far before the coming of spring, the winter time. Many people expects to enjoy the smell of blooming flowers without enduring heart preparation during the winter time. A blessing can only be a blessing when its receiver is ready to handle it. We can't give a car to children, we can't give solid food to a baby. There is always a step by step process behind it in order for the gift can be utilized well. So does love can only be enjoyed when the two individuals has developed enough maturity to handle it. Before its season, love could bring only heart-breaking experience. Have you ever being in a relationship which drains your emotion, time, and energy so bad? Have you ever expected badly and not getting its return? There are two possibility reasons behind it. It may be that our hearts have not ready yet or we were in a relationship with a not-ready person. But how to prepare to be the ready one?





1. Be content with your relationship with God and yourself


Many women suffer from poor self image and lack of compassion from loved ones. There is a hole in their souls in which they try to fill it with temporary things. There is always not enough clothing, shoes, bags, make-ups, or even men to fill their needs.  Have you experienced opening your closet filled with clothing but only to find that you have 'nothing' to wear? Or perhaps 'nothing new' to wear? Isn't it easy to feel not content with what we already have? We always seek for another thing only to find it gives temporary satisfaction. Soon, the hole can be felt again.

God has designed humans' heart to be whole only when it is filled with His presence. Other things will be gone, only Him remains forever. Don't seek your happiness from else where, seek it in God alone. Cultivate intimate time for Him. Pray. Know His Words. And be content with the abundant love He is showering upon you. Before you get your relationship with God right, any other relationship  will only turn wrong. Know the truth of what He thinks about you. He regards you as his precious daughter. You are His princess. He does not look at what you wear, what you do and don't do, he simply loves you because you are you. 

"Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life." -Isaiah 43:4

Stop saying bad words to yourself. Use His truth that you are His beloved. If you gain weight, simply say, "That's okay, I will exercise more then." Don't condemn yourself by saying, "Oh no! I'm fat! I'm fat! I don't want to eat" Grow a healthy self image and cultivate your relationship with God. A relationship will only be as healthy as the individual on it. Do a favor for the sake of yourself and your future love relationship.

2. Be determined to develop maturity


Maturity is the goal of every Christians. Yet in order to be mature, there should be a change. You can change but not growing, but you can't grow without changing. Many people refuse to change the way they are now which they know exactly not good. We know that we are impatient, yet we think that we are wired that way anyway. We know that we are easily angered, but we feel it is so hard to change. You can only grow when you keep making decision to let the old you dies and seek to grow becoming who God wants you to be. God called you to be Jesus' representatives on earth. He is definitely patient, full of love, not easily angered. He is perfect. Of course we can't be 100% like Him. God even promises that we shall be like Him as He comes for the second time. But until then, determine to grow as close as you can to become like Him. Can you imagine a love relationship with someone who is like Jesus in everything he/she says, thinks, and does? Would not it be a blessing? Start from yourself. Be like one. No matter how many rational reasons you have to act rudely, decide not to make people harder to love you before you commit any action. 

Another treat of maturity is taking responsibility. Don't blame others for your condition. People can do evil things toward you, but the happiness is still your choice. You can choose to be responsible for your own happiness. 

It is no longer a secret that age doesn't guarantee maturity. When people stops learning, they stop to become mature. Keeps learning. Henry Ford once said, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young." Learn from successful people in special area. If you want a happy marriage, learn from those who have one. Do not simply 'go with the flow' and expect to reap a good harvest. Read a book. Go to seminar. Be determined not to stop learning. 

You can be sure people have a high level of maturity when they can prioritise others above themselves. Children are naturally think about themselves only. That is why it is hard to find a child who can give his favourite toys to his sister. The same thing with us. Our level of maturity can be seen through our ability to care and give to others.

3. Know your purpose in life and pursue it with all your might
What is your God-given purpose to you? What are your goals? People who have purpose in their lives are attractive. They have passion and zeal to conquer every challenge that comes along. When you have clear purpose, you are less likely to become a needy partner. You know what to do and why you must do it. Once you know your purpose, you can adjust your expectation for your partner who wants to go into that direction too. Marriage is a teamwork. It is extremely hard to fulfil your purpose when your spouse pulls you in the opposite direction. 

Someday, somehow, you will share these gifts to your special man. The most precious gift a woman can give to a man is not simply a physical beauty, but a wholesome soul. A heart which finds its happiness only in God alone, content with what she has, seeks growth, and focus on serving people to fulfil God's calling in her life. At the time you are ready, God is more than able to bless you with a Godly partner and a covenant love relationship. 

Be blessed.

-Leticia Seviraneta

November 07, 2012

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)

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. This illustration was commmon on those days when the scripture was written, but 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 a mere 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 a mere 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 can made 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. 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

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 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.

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

As the right time comes, 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 rightly. It is better to hold your tongue rather than speaking out words that you will regret. 

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 as 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!


He who made us, will take care of us very well 
-Leticia Seviraneta



October 29, 2012

His Beloved


There are days in our lives when we feel unloved and unworthy. In fact, there are so many people out there who are still trying so hard to gain acceptance, love, appreciation, compliments, etc from others. It has become humans' necessity in life to simply just being accepted. We may struggled with it once we were just children. We may struggle with it now in our various relationship with girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, parents, boss, and many more. Does it sound familiar to you? It seems like there is a big hole in your life which is screaming to be filled with love, love, and love. You may think that once this person does this and that for you, you will find it be enough. But the truth goes ... it is never enough. 

I remember the days when I used to feel unloved. At that moment, I questioned about God's love for me. But in one session of Youth Camp in my campus, one of the speaker told me the story when God made a woman. Its last sentence of the story changed the whole course of my life. Here is the story :)

By the time the Lord made woman, He was into the Sixth day of working overtime. An angel appeared and having conversation with the Lord.

Angel: "Why are you spending so much time on this one?"

Lord: "Have you seen the spec sheet on her? She has a lap that can hold two children at one time and that disappears when she stands up, has a kiss and hug that can cure anything from a scrapped knee to a broken heart, and she is doing all of these with two hands!"

Angel: "Only with two hands, Lord? No way!"

Lord: "Oh, it's it the hands that are the problem. It's the three pair of eyes that mothers must have!"

Angel: "Why does she have three pairs of eyes?"

Lord: "Yes, one pair of eyes are to see through the closed door as she asks her children what they are doing even though she already knows. Another pair in the back of her head are to see what she needs to know even though no one thinks she can. And the third pair are here in the front of the head. They are for looking at an errant child and saying that she understands and loves him or her without even saying a single word.

Angel (tried to stop the Lord): "This is too much work for one day, wait until tomorrow to finish!"

Lord: "But I can't! I am so close to finish this creation that is so close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick and can feed a family on a pound of hamburger and can work 18 hours a day."

Angel (moved closer and touched the woman): "But you have made her so soft, Lord."

Lord: "She is soft. But I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish."

Angel: "Will she be able to think?"

Lord: "Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason and negotiate."

Angel (touched the woman's cheek): "Oops, it looks like you have a leak with this model. I told you that you were trying to put too much into this one."

Lord: "That's not a leak. That's a tear!"

Angel: "What's the tear for?"

Lord: "The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her pain, her disappointment, her loneliness, her grief, and her pride."

Angel (impressed): "You are a genius, Lord! You thought of everything, for woman is truly amazing."

Lord: "Yes, she is. Women have strengths that amaze men. They carry children, they carry hardships, they carry burdens but they hold happiness, love, and joy. They smile when they want to scream. They sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous. They fight for what they believe in. They stand up for injustice. They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there us a better solution. They go without new shoes so their children can have them. They love unconditionally. They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards. Their hearts break when a friend dies. They have sorrow at the loss of family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strengh left. They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart. Women come in all sizes, in all colors and shapes. They'll drive, fly, walk, run, or e-mail you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a woman is what makes the world spin! Women do more than giving birth. They bring joy and hope. They give compassion and ideals. Women have a lot to say and a lot to give."

"But she has one weakness ..."

Angel: "What is it Lord?"

Lord: "She often forgets how worthy she is..."


I used to forget that I am worthy. Just like most people, we grow up in an environment where love may not be verbalized nor be shown expressively. It causes children to doubt parents' love, wives doubt husbands' love, and at last God's children doubts God's love. And as our confidence of God's love is shaken, we are most likely to end up in downward spiral. We question about the goodness of God, life and its purpose. That was why this story became a huge turning point for me. For the very first time, I was being reminded about that I am worthy in God's eyes always but it's just my eyes which fail to recognize it.


You are God's beloved. When the world tries to convince that you are not, He constantly wooing you to win your heart. God is a Father to the fatherless, friend to the friendless, and husband to the husbandless. In fact, although you have a nice father, a great friend, and a lovely spouse, Jesus Christ still surpasses them all. He is the one who keeps being faithful as the world lies through their teeth. He is the ONLY ONE who has the capacity to fill the longings in your heart. In Jesus, you are loved and accepted. Not because of what you've done, but because of who He is, Love.



[Isaiah 43:1-7,11,13]
But now, this is what the LORD says-
he who create you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, 
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God, 
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east 
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, "Give them up!"
and to the south, "Do not hold them back."
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters 
from the ends of the earth-
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.
I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.
Yes, and from the ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?"

God is the One who never gives up on you although you even want to quit. You are His beloved and He will not let you go. He will protect you. For your destiny is to be loved by Him. 


"Letting yourself be loved by God is more important 
than loving God" -Brennan Manning

-Leticia Seviraneta

October 12, 2012

My Love Story [Part 3]



On the September 21, we were celebrating our 7 months being in a relationship. Not a long period of time to be boast of I know haha.. But it has been a journey full of God's faithfulness, mercy, and love for us. Some people may wonder what a naive thing for me to post my love story even before it reaches toward the point of marriage. Well, for me, this is an act of faith. I believe what I have not seen. My purpose to share this is to encourage people who may feel what I feel that there is a God out there who concerns of your love story. 

You may often wonder, "How do you know that Jabrik is the best God has for you?" Well, I asked God and He confirmed it. For some people the whole confirmation thing can be tricky. Yet I asked for a clear sign which will prove in the end that it must be from God. Pray specifically for this. For me, God putted in my heart for one verse which is 1 Corinthians 2:9:


However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."

Then I prayed, "Lord, if he is whom you want me to marry with, let You put this verse too in his heart." The funny thing was I told Jabrik that I asked God for this verse sign and he had to 'guess' it rightly. If not, then I regarded that he was not for me. I did not realize that my 'challenge' overwhelmed him a lot. He thought, "Poor me.. There are 31,103 verses in the whole Bible and I have to get it right with only one chance. That means there is only 0.003 probability that I would guess it right." Then Jabrik kept thinking over and over again about the possibility of the 'golden verse'. He thought, "Probably Proverbs 3:5-6.. because she has just tweeted it.. or probably something related to the word "faith" so He searched online to seek all the verses about faith. Being ended up with hundreds of choices, he was getting desperate, "Poor me ..."



Then one night, as he went to sleep in deep trouble, he heard one voice singing, "What no eyes has seen. No ear has heard. No mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him ..." In Indonesian language the song goes like this:


Apa yang tak pernah dilihat mata
Apa yang tak pernah didengar telinga
Yang tak pernah timbul di dalam hati
Semua disediakan bagi yang mengasihi Dia
Reff:
Allah sanggup melakukan segala perkara
Dulu, s'karang dan s'lamanya
Kuasanya tidak berubah (2x)

Then Jabrik said to God, "Don't sing. I asked for a verse, not a song." And God said, "Son, I'm singing you the verse." At that night, Jabrik for the first time heard God's voice as clear as crystal clear. And he hears from the Lord ever since..

The next morning, I recalled that I simply prayed to the Lord, "God, would You please remind him of that verse?" It was Sunday morning. After I prayed that simple prayer, I went to the church. I remembered clearly that before the service started at 10 AM, Jabrik contacted me and shared his experience last night. When he told me about that song, I knew certainly that God had just answered my very recent prayer. Oh no, He answered it even before I mentioned the morning prayer! I was completely surprised.. I always have faith in God, but this time ... He reveals himself in a very miraculous way I can ever imagine. You can read what happened next in My Love Story [Part 2]

That was my first confirmation from the Lord about Jabrik. The second was Faith's letter which I attached in My Love Story [Part 2}. So, how are we going now?

We spent my 23rd birthday together for the second time ;) And now we are working together to make a devotional book and website which will bless many other people. We have a mission from God and we do not take all of his favor in our relationship for granted. Have we ever fallen? Yes, we have. I always have a dream to save my first kiss in front of the altar on my wedding day. Yet, I have to admit that I did not guard it. We can have a nice dream, but if we don't actually pursue, guard, and defend it, we'll lose it. So we are working on to maintain our purity in this relationship. We fell, but we now save our next kiss for wedding. Hmm.. regarding this physical contact area, many people get confused whether they will be okay or not if they hug, kiss, etc. Many people have different standard on this. Yet I cling to God's words in Song of Solomon 2:7, "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires ..." The question is not, "How far is too far?" but instead, "How far do we want to honour God?" It is not a matter of what is allowed and what is not allowed to do. But is it a wise thing to do? 

Oh yes, and we are still waiting for parents' approval for our relationship. A miracle. 

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them",
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with Him.
- Psalm 126:1-6


One day, once we get married, it will be like a dream comes true. The door which seems closed right now will be opened. And we know that it takes God and only Him to open it. It is not the story of us, but story of God's love for us. All of these things which are beautiful are only a glimpse of God's immense love. Yes, now we sow in tears, in faith, and in hope. We sacrifice our flesh desires to walk in purity, our wills are being put to death so that His will shall reign.

You may realise through all my writings that I emphasize a lot on commitment before you ever get into a relationship with someone. It is like a seat-belt in which will protect you from the 'accident' of heart-breaking. I wrote it in more detail in The Safest Roller Coaster. Build your relationship in the rock foundation of Jesus Christ. When Christ is at the center of your relationship, you can be sure that you'll always have ways to find one another. Have the same vision in what God wants you to accomplish in this life. Being in a relationship is like having partnership to accomplish God's purpose. It should bring you two together to grow more in Jesus and not make you both grow apart. 

If you are single, enjoy your season with the Lord with all your might. I always hold on to the wise saying which says that, "A woman's heart must be buried so deeply in Christ that a man must seek Christ first in order to find her." If Christ's love is not sufficient for you now, there will be no other man's love which will ever make it. If Jesus who's all perfect cannot make you feel loved, then there will be no merely man who's imperfect who can make you feel loved too. Wait and grow in the Lord. In the mean time, the man who is passionate with God too is doing the same thing. 

(to be continued ...)


-Leticia Seviraneta-

October 04, 2012

Repairer of Broken Walls


Have you ever felt being 'broken'? There are so many incidents in life which leave us being broken. 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 just 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!


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 hence 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 nnot 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. 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 and 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. 




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 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 a popular quote 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 impossible 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 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.



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 rightly. Do not harbor anger, self-pity, nor bitterness in this season. Just offer your sacrifice of a broken heart, sincere trust in God, and thanksgiving for His goodness. As you respond in God's ways, you will more likely to end 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.




September 26, 2012

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Spouse



I find this article made by Lois Amari answers a lot of questions regarding of our future spouse. Enjoy :)


The first thing to keep in mind when choosing your spouse is that you need to avoid a bad choice at any cost. Look around you: you see very happy marriages, somewhat happy marriages, and miserable marriages. You may not end up with the best choice, but you can easily avoid a bad choice that results in a miserable marriage.
  
It is difficult to give an advice or write an article on how to choose your spouse. Choosing a spouse requires more than just a mental exercise and application of principles acquired from home, from previous experiences, and even from the Bible. It requires the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But application of biblical principles will help you avoid bad choices.  The following principles will help you at a minimum avoid a bad choice, but I believe they can also help you to choose the best.


Soul Mate vs. God’s Will

Many singles have dedicated their lives to an endless pursuit of a soul mate. A soul mate is the perfect partner who will bring them continuous happiness. But does a soul mate really exist? I believe it is a teaching created by the world and is far from biblical. Here is why:

1. One of the most important tests used when evaluating the validity of a teaching is to ask: “Does it work?” If we just look around us, we know that in the overwhelming majority of marriages, the spouses are not really soul mates in the strict definition of the word, or at least in the definition that single people have in mind. Why is that? 

Marriage is an institution made of sinful men and women. Both are selfish and seeking their own happiness, and at the same time they are different from one another. They are different biologically, physiologically, and emotionally, and they are different because they are simply two different people. What we long for in a soul mate can only be achieved if we marry a robot with no feelings, no wishes, no opinion; a robot designed to be 100% compatible with us and programmed with the ability to understand us - even when we don’t understand ourselves, a robot who doesn’t run out of battery and has no programming glitches and whose mission is to serve and please us at every instant of our life.



We need to grasp the reality that our spouses are not robots, but imperfect human beings with distinctive and unique personalities.

2. The desire for and search of a soul mate is self-seeking. It is based on the belief that my spouse exists to serve me, to meet my needs, and to make me happy. The Bible warns us from being self-serving and self centered: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).

3. The concept of soul mate doesn’t call for spiritual growth and change. God wants the believer to change and become more like Christ day after day, and marital challenges help in achieving this. A 100% compatible person – a soul mate- may hinder the spiritual growth in marriage. We are called to change. We are not called to enter into marriages where our personality goes into retirement and our spiritual growth ceases. In his book “Sacred Marriage”, Gary Thomas writes, “What if God didn’t design marriage to be ‘easier’? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? In his book, Thomas explains that marriage helps to transform us and make us become more holy because marriage teaches us truths about God, it teaches us how to love and respect others, it exposes our sins, it helps build the spiritual discipline of perseverance, it builds our character, it teaches us how to forgive, it can build in us a servant heart, and in good marriage, it can foster good prayers, make us more aware of God’s presence, and help us develop our spiritual calling, mission, and purpose.

4. Although marriage is designed to be permanent, separated by death alone, it is not eternal.  Jesus said, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Marriage is an earthly organization, and it is important to keep this in one’s perspective. This limited earthly life that will pass so quickly doesn’t warrant a perfect partner – a soul mate. Eternal perfection is found only in heaven.

5. Only God can be our soul mate. That deep longing in our heart for a soul mate is really a longing for Christ. The world is trying to substitute Christ with a soul mate. The concept of soul mate is built on a human need to be loved and accepted unconditionally and this love and acceptance can only be provided by God. In “Scared Marriage,” Gary Thomas writes, “Some of us ask too much of marriage. We want to get the largest portion of our life’s fulfillment from our relationship with our spouse. That’s asking too much. Yes, without a doubt there should be moments of happiness, meaning, and a general sense of fulfillment. But my wife can’t be God, and I was created with a spirit that craves God. Anything less than God, and I’ll feel an ache.”

The concept of a soul mate is not found anywhere in the Bible. It is the world’s attempt to replace Christ. Having said all that, let us not confuse the concept of a soul mate with God’s will. On the contrary to the worldly teaching on soul mates, the Bible clearly teaches us to seek God’s will.  When we seek a soul mate, we tend to evaluate potential spouses by comparing them to our perceived notion of what our soul mate looks like. We look for those who will make us happy, who will meet our needs, and serve our agenda. On the other hand, when we seek God’s will, we don’t rely on the flesh, but rather we seek what pleases Him and we strive to hear His voice and rely on His guidance.


Make Sure To Be Spiritually Compatible

The worst choice you can ever make is marrying a person who doesn’t share your faith and your spiritual passion. The Bible says:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."  (2 Corinthians 7:14-17)

It is your responsibility to ensure that your future spouse is a Christian.  “This is so important, and not to convince yourself that she is because she goes to church or likes your ‘spirituality’ or she's interested in spiritual things - but, is she a Christian?(Daryl Bell). To know if a person is a Christian we need to personally examine them to see if they are in the faith, the same way one needs to examine oneself in accordance with the biblical teaching: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

It is not only enough to ensure that the person is a Christian but to know if that person is spiritually compatible with you. There are five spiritual areas that we need to examine other people in light of before we pursue or accept to enter into a relationship with them:

1. Does the person love Jesus? Does he have a passion for Christ?  Is his goal in life to live for Christ? Another question to ask to determine if you are spiritually compatible is “Does she move you closer to God or farther away from Him - do you desire Him more with her in your life?” (Daryl Bell)

2. Does the person believe and follow the words of Jesus – the Bible? Farida Kirokis suggests asking the person, “What does the Bible mean to you?  Do you believe in the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of the scripture?  Is the Bible the only authoritative guide in your life?  How important reading the Bible to you and when you read the Bible, do you feel that God is talking to you through it?”

It is very important to marry someone who takes the Bible seriously and whose behavior is driven by biblical values rather than by emotions or worldly principles. Apart of having the Bible as the final court of arbitration on every single matter, there is no guarantee that one’s marriage will last.

3. Is the person in communication with Jesus? Does he enjoy spending time in the presence of the Lord? You may be familiar with the saying, “There is no danger on the greatest sinner who is on his knees, but there is a great danger on the greatest saint who doesn’t pray.” In today’s society, it is very dangerous to marry someone who doesn’t pray. Without prayer, a person has no way to resolve conflicts, calm his emotions, seek wisdom and obtain answers to help him to become a better person. In “Prayer: The Secret of Lasting Marriage,” Dennis Rainy writes of the discipline of praying with his wife, “That discipline has helped resolve conflicts, kept communication flowing, and, most importantly, acknowledged our utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as the Lord and Builder of our family.”

4. Does the person like to become more like Jesus? It is important not to be satisfied with oneself but to always strive to be more like Christ. It is much safer, in my opinion, to marry a person with personality flaws but who wants to change and become like Christ, rather than a person who seems flawless and who is satisfied with himself or herself and has no desire for further spiritual growth. After all, all the beautiful traits of a personality are not inherited by genes, but are a result of the work of the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

5. Does the person like to serve Jesus? Does he have a passion to win souls for the Lord?  Is this person involved in the ministry?  In his book “Choosing God’s Best”, Dr. Raunikar writes, “Watching how other singles minister is one of the best ways to evaluate their character before pursuing them or being pursued in courtship.” 

The above five areas are important tools to examine spiritual compatibility. If the person has passion for Christ, passion for spiritual growth, passion for the Bible, passion for prayer, and passion for ministry, you can be assured of the person’s spiritual condition. There is no danger in marrying such a person.


Remain In Your Calling


The general biblical principle is to remain in the calling that God called us to. We are not to neglect the spiritual gifts that the Lord gave us, but to utilize them to the fullest for the glory of God, as Paul admonished Timothy:  “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you” (1Tim 4:14) and “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). And we are not to abandon the ministry that the Lord called us to but to fulfill it, as again per Paul’s instruction to Timothy: “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry ” (2 Timothy 4:5).

The instructions to Timothy are applicable to all believers as the Bible makes it clear that all believers must use their spiritual gifts that the Lord has given them: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). This is simply God’s will: to faithfully use the spiritual gifts that God gave you and to fulfill your ministry that God entrust you with. Remember that when we stand in front of God, we will not give an account on who we married but whether or not we were faithful in using the talents the Lord has given us.

Therefore, it is important to ask: Does this relationship calls for the abandoning of God’s calling for my life?  Daryl Bell advises to ask further: “Do the two of you have the potential of a greater ministry beyond what you do individually? That is, does your faith come alive and are you able to complement one another to produce fruit for the kingdom beyond what you could do as two singles.”

When you remain in your calling, you are choosing the glory of God. When you choose to abandon your calling for the sake of marriage, you are simply rejecting God’s calling to your life and choosing to live a life not optimized for his glory. Of course, it may be hard to predict who will be suitable for your calling and that’s why you need to pray and rely on God’s guidance. However, if a person doesn’t respect God’s calling on your life, asks you to abandon it, doesn’t encourage you to follow it, and doesn’t help you to fulfill it, then that person is a bad choice. No Christian can live a fulfilling life apart of doing what God called him to do, and therefore, it is critical that you don’t compromise in this area when choosing your spouse.  


Don’t Be Selfish: Suitability Is Two-Way


When we look for a spouse, the tendency is to ask “Is this person suitable for me?” But rarely do we ask ourselves: Am I a suitable spouse for this person?  It is very important not only to make sure that the person is suitable for me, but also to make sure that I am suitable for him or her. We need to examine ourselves and ask ourselves: Will I help this person become the man or the woman God wants him or her to be? Will I help the person fulfill God’s calling in his or her life? God’s will is not selfish. It considers the effects on other people, as Dr. Raunikar writes in “Choosing God’s Best”:  “Satan’s evil spirits tell us that we can do what we want and shouldn’t worry about the rippling effects of our lives on other people.  In contrast, God has not only our best interests in mind but also the good of all concerned.”

When we consider the interest of others, we are following the steps of our Master and we are seeking God’s glory, rather than ours.


Compatibility Is Not the Only Sign

The most important question is to know whether or not it is God’s will.  Dr. Raunikar writes, “Christians must realize that it is more important to be certain that a marriage is God’s will than to judge our suitability for marriage by love, attraction, or compatibility.  Our situations change and we grow through the years.  We cannot predict future compatibility on our own.”  In addition, “God’s knowledge and wisdom are far greater than ours.  He can see the entire landscape while we concentrate on a single valley.  We would be foolish to try to fit God into our mold and conform Him to our plans.  Yes, He did give us a brain, and we should be smart enough to know that God’s even smarter.


Presence of Peace

It is important to examine if you have peace about this relationship. In “Choosing God’s best,” Dr. Don Raunikar writes, “Learn to let the presence or absence of the peace of God in your heart be the umpire of your human relationships.  Satan’s evil spirits and your flesh can speak to you and even quote Scripture, but neither one can counterfeit God’s deep, settled peace. ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7).

Some may object to this because they may had have peace about past relationships that later didn’t result in marriage. These people may have confused true peace with emotions. Peace is not equivalent to the emotional feeling of love, but rather it is a deep conviction that this matter is from the Lord. The number one mistake I see is that this kind of fake emotional peace develops instantaneously before the person knows the other person and learns all the facts about the potential relationship. Peace without knowledge is not peace. It is like standing behind a closed door and saying I have peace that what is inside the room is beautiful and therefore I will buy the house. Peace is when having all the facts and information (the positive and the negative), and you still have conviction that the matter is from God and faith and trust in God’s further guidance in this matter, similar to the peace the Psalmist has in Psalm 47. He is aware of all the negative aspects around him, yet he has peace because he holds to the Lord’s promise: “Be still and know that I am God.” The rushing feeling of peace when you first meet a person is just an emotion. It is not from God. Beware of those who rush you and push you to make decisions without knowing the facts.

Also, learn to distinguish between the characteristics of godly peace and fake emotional peace. Fake emotional peace cripples the person’s ability to make good judgment. It doesn’t allow the person to stop and apply biblical principles. It puts the person under a guilt trip. It enslaves the person.  Dr. Raunikar writes that God’s voice “stills us, leads us, reassures us, enlightens us, encourages us, comforts us, calms us, and convicts us.  While Satan’s voice rushes us, pushes us, frightens us, confuses us, discourages us, worries us, obsesses us and condemns us.”

Finally, remember that our God is a god of order and not a god of confusion. If something is His will, He will provide peace to both parties. Never try to force your peace on the other person, or accept to enter into a relationship based on the peace that the other person feels. You too need to experience the peace of God. You too need to hear the voice of God.

The take home message, here, is never marry a person without having peace.  


Conclusion

Several biblical principles were provided in choosing your spouse. If you follow them, you will end up with a good choice. Ultimately, what is important is God’s will. It is not enough to apply the above and other principles, what is important is to pray and fast to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to the person the Lord has chosen for you.