Train of Thanks 22-23-24

Because we’ll never run out of things to be grateful for.

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Wow! A three-week series compiled into single post. Either sobrang complacent lang ako or sobrang busy kaya di masyadong makapagsulat ng maayos. Hindi ko na talaga madetermine. Haha! A lot of things happened, mga gabing puyat sa pagbabasa, pag-aaral, paggawa ng mga random stuff at paggagala. Haha! In all of these, I thank the Lord for giving me the strength and provision for the past weeks. God is good!

Week 1

  1. Being a part of Ptr. Ronald Molmisa’s Young Ezra Society encourages me to dream on and pray hard para sa pangarap ko na maging isang book author. I’ve learned that to be a Christian writer is to convey a message that comes from the Lord, not just to air my opinion or merely share my experiences.
  2. A writers’ guild I belong gave us a writing prompt related to elections. I am glad I was able to submit one article kahit na hindi ko siya forte. I need to learn more, and practice my writing skills more.
  3. An idea sprung up while I was busy with my writing stints: creating a blog solely dedicated for reaching your full potential and fulfilling your purpose in Christ. your hugot and love stories! Introducing my newest blog: Lost in my Purpose. Hearts and Halo!
  4. The planning for the first Katiyagaan Division Joint Day Camp has officially started, and I’m excited for this upcoming event!
  5. I’m grateful for our guest speaker for the Salt and Light Sunday: Teacher Cleo!

Week 2

  1. Napuyat man kami ng mga ka-grupo ko for our Theo 1 report on Trinity, masaya naman kami ng aming grupo na matapos ang final paper and reporting on the said subject. Sayang lang medyo bitin sa class discussion, but aside from the learning, na-appreciate ko ulit ang pagiging estudyante.
  2. Na-late man sa karamihan na sumabay sa hype ng palabas, napanood ko pa rin ang Batman v Superman. Indeed, being a superhero movie lover, I can attest that this is a good time to be alive. In a few weeks time, Captain America: Civil War naman!
  3. I had a great weekend strolling in various parks and attractions in QC. Pero ang masaya, I’ve found friends who are willing to ride with my antics. Di rin naman pala ako ganun ka-introvert kung iisipin. Haha!
  4. I thank the Lord for awesome things such as watching pyrolympics on a Saturday night with friends.
  5. I am grateful for simple joys na hatid ng aking calligraphy pen kahit na hindi naman talaga ako marunong gumamit. Haha!

Week 3

  1. At last, the trimester for the FBC Extension has finally concluded. Makakapahinga na rin kahit paano. Until next trimester!
  2. I was able to watch Papuri 21 at CCF. It was a night filled with inspiration and inexpressible joy from the Lord!
  3. I’m grateful for my safe travel on my out-of-impulse, Manila-Batangas-Manila trip for a personal errand. It was fun, yet I was apprehended for making people worried. Pero salamat pa rin kay Lord talaga.
  4. For another Execom + HAM meetings – I thank the Lord for the wisdom. Time to put 4×4 discipleship material into action!
  5. So blessed to witness the Holy Spirit peeling off our deceptive characters on our Salt and Light Sunday with Teacher Lester as guest speaker!

Ayan, medyo mahaba ang post ko ngayon. Haha! What are the things you are thankful for the previous weeks?

 

The Lie of Familiarity

The lie of familiarity is a familiar lie.

May mga bagay na hindi totoo pero nagmumukhang tunay dahil nakakasanayan natin. Parang pamasahe sa jeep. Dahil madalas na hindi na tayo nasusuklian, inaakala na nating 8.00 at hindi 7.50 ang tunay na pamasahe. Ganyan din sa ang buhay. This is the lie of familiarity.

Gayundin, may mga taong madali talagang mabiktima ng mga jeepney “barkers” na sumisigaw ng “kasya pa tatlo, kasya pa tatlo!” Susundan pa yan ng “araw-araw ginagamit, kasya pa tatlo!” It is an obvious lie, evidenced by the facial expressions and smirk of passengers inside. Yet gullible people enter the trap and soon realize that they have entered a place of momentary humiliation.

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Not just a few times I’ve been in this kind of humiliation – and the most awkward of situation happens! Here’s the scenario:

Papasok ka sa jeep… walang gustong umurong dahil wala na ngang space. Pero mamimilit ang driver at papasingitin ka sa pagitan ng pinakapayat at pinakamabait tignan na pasahero. Sisingit ka at uupo sa imaginary seat na ibinigay ng isipan mo. Swerte ka na kung may kalahating pwet ka pang nakaupo, pero kadalasan nakaupo ka sa hangin at ang tanging kakampi mo lang ay ang hawakan na minsan ay umuuga pa. Ang isang paa mo naman ay itutukod mo sa upuan ng katapat mong pasahero, sa pagitan ng kanyang mga binti. Malas mo lang kung babae ang nandun and we’ll talk about awkwardness. Dadagdag pa ang tingin sayo ng kapwa pasahero na hindi mawari kung natatawa sila o naaawa sa sitwasyon mo. Sa huli, kukumbinsihin mo na lang ang sarili na sandaling suffering lang ito, at magdadasal na may bumaba agad na pasahero at nang makalaya ka na sa paghihirap mo.

When I was in college, this is my occasional experience. Lalo na kapag rush hour, talo-talo na. I have been used to this situation kaya ok na lang. I know I have a choice to choose another jeepney or FX pero ok na lang. I know I can either wait for the rush hour to pass, or to make it earlier pero dahil nasanay na ako sa oras ng gising ko, ok na lang. Familiarity has taken its hold on me kaya ok na lang.

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Familiarity turns a situation into comfort zones (though ironically, di comfortable ang illustration ko. Haha!) Familiarity sends us a message that this is the way it has been, and this should always be. To deviate from what is familiar, to break from our mold is both terrifying and humiliating.

Mas ok na lang na mahirapan, magpapanggap akong nakaupo sa hangin magsabi sa driver na “bababa na lang po ako!”

Familiarity sends us a message that this is the way it has been, and this should always be. To deviate from what is familiar, to break from our mold is both terrifying and humiliating.

Peter the disciple has been familiar with his environment. He is a fisherman by profession; his adult life before he met Jesus has been committed to catching fish. He knows the time to catch fish, the spot to catch fish, and all knowledge necessary for his trade. He is very much familiar with fishing until it has become his comfort zone.

However, fishing is not a sure-hit trade. Sometimes there’s plenty, sometimes there’s none. And one particular day, after toiling for nothing the night before, Jesus came and instructed Peter, “cast down your nets once more!”

Maybe Peter’s colleagues took Jesus’ words as a joke, or maybe an insult. They might have said to one another, “Who is this Jesus who tells us what to do? Isn’t he a carpenter, and a carpenter’s son? What business does he have with us fishermen?” Peter’s reply most probably meant, “we have already spent the whole night at the sea, with the best of our abilities, and still we ended up with nothing!” In fact, they have already retired for the day! They are already cleaning their nets, ready to go home and call it a day! But Peter, wanting to break mold from the familiarity of his situation, took a step of faith. “Nevertheless at Your word, I will let down the net” *Luke 5:1-11.

  • The lie of familiarity tells us that what has been will always be.
  • The lie of familiarity tells us that your situation is hopeless.
  • The lie of familiarity tells us that you can never be free from what binds you.
  • The lie of familiarity tells us that what you’ve dreamt of for your life is impossible.
  • The lie of familiarity tells us that you are a just a product of your environment
  • The lie of familiarity tickles you with comfort, and it tells you that you can go on in life with just that.

When Peter let down his net, hindi lang siya basta nakahuli ng isda, kinailangan pa niyang magpatulong sa mga kasamahan niya, to the point that their nets are breaking and their boats came sinking!

Who doesn’t want a catch like that? Who doesn’t want to break free from the familiar life and pursue the life you’ve always dreamt of, a life that is fulfilling and satisfying, free from the shackles of familiarity?

And at the end of it all, our response will be plain worship, like Peter, who gave up his familiar life of being a fisherman to become a fisher of men.

The lie of familiarity is a familiar lie. Parang pagsakay natin sa jeep. Bumaba ng jeep kung nahihirapan, hingin ang sukli kung kinakailangan, and don’t let the lie of familiarity define you.

What’s in a name?

Every name has its own story. Mine’s a story of, I don’t know what you call that – a whimsical act or a deliberate decision?

When I was a kid I have learned the story behind my name. According to my mother, it was my lola (not my biological lola though) who should be held responsible for my name. Just to spare you some precious time guessing what my name is, I’d like to introduce myself – my name’s Martin.

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Mas maiintindihan ko sana kung may malalim na pinaghugutan ang naging pangalan ko – pwede namang kinuha kay Martin Luther King, o kay San Martin de Porres. Ang kaso, kaya ganito ang pangalan ko ay dahil lang sa ipinanganak ako ng Martes. Ayun, ako ngayon si Martin. There was even a joke that I was born in the middle of the night, that’s why I have this not-so-fair complexion.

I could have been named Exequiel should my mother insisted her authority over my lola. However, being the obedient daughter she is, she succumbed to my lola’s whims.

I am Martin Valenzuela, simply because I was born on a Tuesday, Martes.

As a child, I never really liked my name. Given the chance I’d rather be called Mark or John, or any other name, no matter how common, I’d still choose it over my name. To all Martins out there, please don’t get offended. Walang mali sa pangalan natin, kung di lang madalas akong tuksuhin na Tintin Patpatin, o di kaya ay Martiniko. My name just makes it obvious that I grew up thin and sickly. Lampayatot.

In school o kahit sa bahay, kapag tinawag na ako sa buong pangalan ko I easily get uneasy. Lalo na kapag sinamahan na ng apelyido – Mr. MARTIN VALENZUELA let’s talk after class, ok? O kaya, Mr. MARTIN VALENZUELA, please proceed to the principal’s office immediately. Pero eto pa ang matindi – ANAK KA TALAGA NG MAGALING MONG TATAY, MARTIN VALENZUELA! Lalo na kapag may kasama nang gigil. Isa lang ang ibig sabihin niyan!

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Maybe this is one function of our formal names – to get our attention. May gigil o wala, kapag tinawag ka sa buong pangalan mo, you immediately give your full attention to the one who calls you by name.

Every name has its own story. Mine’s a story of, I don’t know what you call that – a whimsical act or a deliberate decision?

Before the disciples of Jesus were called into the ministry, they were just common people. No one take notice of them, except their relatives and friends. They are just like most of us, until they were called in their formal names by no other than Jesus Himself.

Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, was called in his formal name, Simon, not just once but many times. And whenever Jesus calls him in such manner, usually they were big moments.

One of these moments was when Jesus was asking His disciples about who do people think He is. Some of his disciples answered, “some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

But when Jesus asked them their personal thoughts about Him, it was Peter who claimed “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”

Jesus called Peter in his full, formal name! It was a very personal discourse between them. It’s as if Jesus is telling Peter, or Simon in this context, that He is a personal God.

Jesus’ reply is priceless – “Blessed are you, SIMON, BAR-JONAH for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven”. Matthew 16:17

Jesus called Peter in his full, formal name! It was a very personal discourse between them. It’s as if Jesus is telling Peter, or Simon in this context, that He is a personal God. He knows everything about Simon – his family (BAR-JONAH means Son of Jonah), his worries and joys, his sacrifices and desires. He knows Simon very well, and their relationship is not just like a boss-employee, but more of friends. Moreover, he calls Simon as BLESSED! I’m sure that to Simon, who was once a fisherman, to be called by Jesus in his formal name is a defining moment, equipping him to become a full-pledged fisher-of-men.

It doesn’t matter what story your name has. It can be a story of significance or just plain existence in your own realm. Either you have the name that is highly regarded by people or just like me when I was still a kid, you’d rather change your name to something else. But whatever your name is, God has something to tell you:

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name and you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

You are being called by God, in your very formal name to catch your attention. Don’t worry, He knows everything about you and He doesn’t mind whether you messed up big time in the past. Just yield to Him. Take heed to His call. Just like Peter, he calls you to a relationship with Him and to turn the world upside down for Him.

As a grown-up man, no longer will I choose any other name for myself, because in this name I have been called by my God. Natuto rin akong makuntento at magpasalamat.

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Before I met Jesus, I am an insecure Martin, who doesn’t like his very own name. But when I accepted Him as Christ, Lord and Savior, I have my own version of Jesus telling me – “Blessed are you, MARTIN VALENZUELA.”