How to Activate Your Faith

From "Altared", Claire & Eli
From “Altared”, Claire & Eli

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17 (NIV)

It’s easy to fall into that category of not doing anything. Of spitting out that catchphrase “I’m waiting on God.” Or that category of doing something crazy and saying, “I’m not waiting on God anymore.”

Perhaps you’re in the midst of a major life circumstance. Simple ones are easy – daily routine tasks that require no more than five seconds for us to decide. But there are the big ones that leave you staring into space, baffled on your next steps. These usually concern our career (or lack of), or relationships (or lack of), or family, or health, or finances. We’re more careful with these life challenges (or we should be) as the consequences could have a lasting impact on our life.

So how do you strike that balance between waiting and doing something? Of moving along with God and not moving behind him or before him? How do you navigate your way around these circumstances, from inaction to action?

1. Wait on God and be still.

Yes, this would still be the first step. Let me clarify this as this seems like the opposite of moving into action. Waiting and being still often conjures up images of not doing anything at all. Of just sitting around and waiting for an outside force to drop something good on our lap. But we’re also reactive people with a mix of hazy emotions and easily malleable by all the noise of people, things and influences around us. All of these easily confuse us and pushes us to do things that on hindsight were already veering us on the wrong track.

Thus, we need the silence. We need to re-focus our sights on what’s important and what’s real. And it’s in the silence and calmness that we can reconnect with our Creator to know His purposes for us.

Waiting on God is not simply sitting around. It means we need to pick up our bibles and align our life with His word. The psalmist recorded, “Be still and know that I am God.” All around him were troubles, of the earth giving way, of oceans roaring and mountains trembling. That’s a pretty scary sight. I would be anxious inside too. So it starts by calming ourselves and acknowledging that we have a BIG God out there.

2. Let wisdom guide your action.

After relating to us the connection between Faith and Action, James continues in the next chapter to tell us about Two Kinds of Wisdom. Our actions will stem from our perspectives and understanding. The wrong kind of wisdom is from our natural human inclinations. It is selfish and earthly, and only makes us do crazy things that mess us up even further.

The right kind of wisdom comes from God. It is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”.

Ask yourself, will this new job or venture make me into a better person? Will it develop my skills and character? Will starting or continuing in this relationship be what’s best for the other person? Am I doing this to honor God, or only for myself or the money?

3. Just do something.

We may fall into the trap of not doing anything, paralyzed in fear that we may do the wrong thing. Or we may be faced with two good choices (good for you!) and we don’t know which one aligns with God. But we also need to know that God is sovereign and even at this very moment, He is leading us. So just go out and do something.

And while we may make the wrong choices (and we will make a few of them), know that He is a merciful and gracious God, who can redeem those circumstances and veer us on the right track. After all, it’s in making bad decisions that we learn how to make the right ones, don’t we?

So be still before God, seek His wisdom and just do something!

Remember, Faith always moves us into action.

“But someone may say, “You have faith, and I have actions.” Show me your faith without any actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions.” James 2:18 (ISV)

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Celebrating Your Singleness

seasons

Dear Sister-in-Waiting,

I know.

I know it’s hard. I know the days can drag on. I know about all those lonely nights.

I’ve been there.

And I wish it wouldn’t be this hard. But there are days when your heart literally hurts, especially after meeting a promising young man, only for it to turn sour and find out he’s not the one for you.

I know.

And I know you’re tired of people telling you,

“It’s going to happen soon.”

“He’s coming for you.”

“Just be patient and wait.”

So I’m not going to tell you those. Because honestly, I don’t know.

I don’t know if it is going to happen soon.

I don’t know where he is.

And I don’t know how long you’ll have to wait.

So maybe you pray even harder. Read even more. And they tell you,

“Wait on God.”

“Jesus is your Husband.”

“Prepare for your marriage.”

All good advice. But it’s been a year. Or two. Or five. And hope is not what it used to be. It’s dwindling a little.

But I will tell you this:

This season too shall pass.

That I know.

I have been where you are. I read. I prayed. I met new friends. Potentials even. I was expectant. I had high hopes.

I guarded my heart. Took captive of my thoughts. Tried to think only of what was pure, noble and right. But I couldn’t. I thought of marriage. A lot. I thought of potential husbands. A lot.

But, nothing.

And then it hurt. And hurt some more.

But you wake up one day, and you’re ok. Literally, ok.

No longer panicky, no longer anxious. I had peace.

I trusted Jesus. I trusted God. If it is His will, it will happen. He wants this to happen more than I do.

So yes, it will pass. And you will enjoy your singleness like never before. You will see with new eyes, feel with a new heart. You will crave for God just as when you met Him as your First Love. You will want to know Him more, serve Him as He has called you to.

This season is a gift from God. No husband to care for. No kids to run after. Your time is your own. You can focus on your passion for singing. Take up painting. Watch your favorite episode of Friends. Go on road trips.

This is your life. It doesn’t start after marriage. Marriage does not define you. THIS IS YOUR LIFE.

And it’s great to be alive.

So it’s ok. Just hang on to God. With every bit of your might.

Because, my dear Sister-in-Waiting, this too shall pass. And what’s around the corner is worth waiting for.

Paradigm shift

I’ve had a little change of perspective lately and I do hope it sticks. A few weeks ago, I heard the news that an acquaintance, a friend’s friend, was diagnosed with leukemia. That really struck me. As I’m sure it did other people. He is an amazing guy, at the prime of his life (only 24 years old) and doing amazing things for his community. Makes you wonder about life, doesn’t it?

As I was doing my daily surf of contents online, this time including stories of cancer survivors, research on leukemia, how to help, etc., I came across an article of one cancer survivor. This is where I’m drawing my renewed take on all things, especially everyday ordinary tasks, routine work and sheer drudgery.

I GET TO.

That’s it.

I don’t have to go to work. I GET TO go to work.

I don’t have to wake up early. I get to wake up each morning and find things to do that may bless others.

I get to be in a free country, enjoy my independence and do the things I want.

I get to live, love and enjoy life.

Mostly, I get to worship my God from whom this amazing life comes from.

That isn’t to say that life never sucks. I have my ups and downs. But remembering the I GET TOs in life will spell a world of difference between being joyful of the gift or just surviving the day-to-day and keeping my head above water.

I choose to GET TO. Wouldn’t you?

 

Life lessons from Francis Kong

Last night I was privileged to attend a talk by THE Francis Kong. It’s only recent that I started following him on Facebook. I’ve heard about him before but I got more interested after seeing him in church, hearing him speak in a retreat and learning more about his values.

I love that he’s Christian. His talks are based on biblical values and his words and actions stem from that. He emphasized the need to be consistent in whatever you say. And since the word of God is unchangeable, he is consistent whether he’s talking about sales, marketing, family, life, love, business. Here is a successful man who preaches what he practices.

He is funny, engaging, down-to-earth, authentic. The talk last night was about public speaking. And not that I have any dreams of becoming a public speaker, but I think he offers practical lessons that can be applied in different aspects of life and contribute to character and skills development. I can use the tips in engaging my students and improve my communication skills in general, which is about as important for everyone! (unless you live marooned on a deserted island, then you’re excused)

Here are lessons that really impacted me:

1. “You cannot teach anyone unless you first learn to love your audience.”

This is the only way to escape sounding condescending, he said. When you genuinely love and care for the people you’re teaching, your words will come from your heart and you will only want what’s best for them. As a teacher, my students may not immediately understand what I’m teaching, so I have to be patient. I can’t be patient if I don’t have a love for them.

And this isn’t only for professional teachers. We’re all teachers in some way. Parent to a child, sibling to a younger sibling, colleagues training a newcomer, mentors, small group leaders. At some point in our life, we will be passing on knowledge to someone else. Do you have a love for that person? Do you genuinely seek the improvement of this person?

2. Everybody starts out as amateurs.

I’m actually an impatient person. Ironic, right? I’m impatient to get to my destination. Where that is I don’t know. But I keep thinking if what I’m doing now or about to do contributes to where I would want to be someday. For instance, I don’t know if I want to be teaching my whole life. The impatient me says, if this isn’t what you’ll end up eventually, then why even do it? But we all have to start somewhere. Maybe the skills I learn here I’ll be able to use later on. Maybe this will open other doors for me.

Francis Kong said, you have to start somewhere. If you want to be a public speaker, then you have to start speaking. Don’t expect a massive crowd with standing room only on your first night. It may be a small group, 5 or 6 — 7 if you include your dog. In my case, I’m starting out with one – my student hehe (oh poor him).

3. You’ll always wonder if you don’t give your all. 

He ended the talk with a story (stories are powerful, he said). There was a boy with lots of marbles and there was a girl with lots of candies. One day, the boy told the girl he’ll exchange all of his marbles for all of her candies. The girl agreed. The night before their exchange, the boy had second thoughts. He had some pretty nice marbles in his collection. He thought, he’ll keep some of the shiny pretty ones for himself and give the rest to the girl. And so he did and they exchanged in the morning. That night, the girl slept soundly. But the boy didn’t: He kept wondering whether the girl had given him all her candies.

Perhaps it’s the only way not to have any regrets. Give it your all. Do it excellently. Or else we’ll look back and wonder what would’ve happened if we had given it our all. As Francis Kong said, i-todo mo na! Now I wonder, are there any parts of my life where I’m still not giving it my all?

 

Visit Francis Kong’s website http://www.franciskong.com or follow him on Facebook to get tips on public speaking, love, parenting etc. To know more about his speaking engagements, check out http://www.inspireleaders.com.ph