Strong Tower

 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

The Name of the Lord

1.) The name of the Lord is a strong tower.

What is a strong tower? It is a high and fortified edifice — a sanctuary — a safe place from enemies. Even from afar, a tower can be seen. It is a place of refuge and strength.

^That is the name of the Lord. 🙂

2.) The righteous man runs into it.

Who is the righteous man?
Is the righteous man a man free of sin?
Is the righteous man a perfect man who has been perfected by absolute obedience to the law and doing of good works?

No one can be perfected by the law. No one is free of sin, but those who believe in Him is free from it.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22)

As John Bunyan put it in “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”:

“One day as I was passing into the field…this sentence fell upon my soul. Thy righteousness is in heaven. And methought, withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, He lacks my righteousness, for that was just before Him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, ‘The same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Heb 13:8). I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God [about the unforgivable sin] left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.”

3.) The name of the Lord is safe.

It is a sanctuary to those who seek refuge in Him. There is no other name higher than the name of our God Most High.

Rest and rejoice in this wonderful Truth. Our God is a strong tower. Call upon the name of the LORD and be saved. 

Advertisements

Hosea’s Wife

This is a song that I wrote during the second quarter of 2016, mostly based on Romans 7, Psalm 51, and my own broken heart.

The title refers to Gomer: the unfaithful and “whoring” wife whom the faithful prophet Hosea still chose to love and accept, in obedience to the Father’s will — a mere “shadow” of Christ’s own love for His Bride, the Church.

HOSEA

Inside this flesh that’s breathing in this fallen world, we are all Gomers to Christ. We are the wandering, “whoring” bride whose other lovers (honor, money, worldly relationships, power, prestige, etc.) cannot fully and completely comfort and satisfy us. Only Christ is enough. We will never find pure joy and true peace in anything apart from Christ.

Sharing the lyrics to you here, because it might be your heart’s cry of repentance, too. With this raw song, we can pray together for our souls to be repainted fully with the “colors” of God’s love and grace.

Sin should not be downplayed, dismissed, overlooked, and underestimated. If we fail to grasp the gravity of sin, then we fail to grasp the gravity of Christ’s work on the Cross which saved us from it. However, sin, too, should not subject us to throw our souls into a life of crippling despair. Instead, it should invite the soul who cannot save himself/herself closer to the One who already paid the wages of sin and defeated death—so that we may have eternal life.

God’s goodness is meant to lead us to a life of repentance. His mercy makes our hearts break and grieve over our sins, but at the same time, it gives us peace, knowing that we have His forgiveness and grace to overcome the world that Jesus had already overcome.

He, who is in me, is greater than he, who is in the world.

While in this flesh, we will never be free of sin. But in Christ, we are free from it already.

Surely, I say to you: That He, who started a good work in you, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. We have transcendental peace in the Hands that will never let us go. 🙂

 

____

HOSEA’S WIFE

I

Where do I go from here?

I have squandered Your trust,

Misspent Your grace.

I wandered away.

 

II

Scarlet-lettered,

I’m in need of Your water.

Purge my heart,

Wash me whiter than snow.

III

Your temple defiled,

The sorrow runs deep.

A loss is incurred,

Grief’s anthem sings.

Refrain

Wretched girl that I am!

My sins are before me.

From this body of death,

Who will deliver me?

Chorus

I have broken Your heart.

With my flesh I serve the law of sin;

A war rages from within.

O God, forgive from heaven.

Please repaint my soul again,

With the colors of Your purity and love.

IV

How did I come here?

Little foxes

That I’ve allowed

Spoiled the lilies in the field.

V

How do I get back?

I gave away what’s holy;

I cast pearls before swine,

I wasted Your sweet wine.

VI

Your bride, my Lord,

Innocent no more.

In darkness, she sinned.

In light, why does she sin again?

Refrain

Wretched girl that I am!

My sins are before me.

From this body of death,

Who will deliver me?

Chorus

I have broken Your heart.

With my flesh I serve the law of sin;

A war rages from within.

O God, forgive from heaven.

Please repaint my soul again,

With the colors of Your purity and love.

Bridge

I mourn over Your wasted grace,

I turn again to seek Your face;

Met with eyes that welcome me Home.

I praise you Lord for holding on.

Your salvation, God, I cannot lose.

Seal my heart,

Make me new again;

According to Your steadfast love.

According to Your mercy, Lord.

Seal my heart,

Return to me the joy of Your innocence.

Chorus

‘Coz You have broken my heart.

In Christ, I defeat the law of sin.

The war is won from within.

O God, You forgive from heaven.

Lord, You repaint my soul again

With the colors of Your purity and love.

(Repeat)

Forgive our sins and heal our broken land

 

Etsy

Last year, when the Supreme Court (SC) junked the petitions which prayed for the stopping of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), a group of Silliman students and alumni gathered around the Silliman pole to protest against the SC decision.

 

In a 9-5 vote, the Supreme Court decided based on these five grounds:

1. There was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of President Rodrigo Duterte in ordering the burial of Marcos at LNMB because it was done in the exercise of his mandate. There is also no law that prohibits the burial of Marcos’ remains at the LNMB.

2. President Duterte has the power to reserve for public use and for specific public purposes, any of the lands under public domain.

3. Marcos’ remains, under regulations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, can be interred at LNMB because he was a former president, commander-in-chief, soldier, medal of valor awardee, and legislator.

4. The Supreme Court disagreed Marcos was “dishonorably discharged,” saying the disqualification only pertains to the military.

5. Marcos cannot be disqualified from burial at LNMB because he was not convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude.

I was asked by Prof. Ian Casocot to close that gathering with a prayer. Coincidentally, today, September 21, 2017—45 years after Marcos declared Martial Law, I found the draft of that prayer in my phone. I was reading the books of Daniel and Isaiah before composing this prayer, so you will see that it reflects the longings of an exiled people for a safe and serene home.

Today, in this time when the nation is divided on how it sees extrajudicial killings, the ways of the Marcoses, and many other significant issues, I pray this again:

Blessed is Your name, O God, forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. You change times and seasons; You remove kings and set up kings; You give wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; You reveal deep and hidden things; You know what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with You.

We come before You, dear Lord, with our pains, disappointments, frustrations, worries, anxieties, and more importantly, with our hope in You. We believe in Your sovereign will and goodness, O God. Help us with our unbelief. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear Your Truth.
You said in Your Word, O God, that every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. We ask You, dear Lord, to unite the Filipinos in Love and in Truth.
Hear from heaven, forgive our sins, bring our hearts to repentance, and heal our broken land.
 
Let our nation be awakened, O God. Let all nations be awakened. We do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because Your nation and Your people are called by Your name.
We pray that violence will no longer be heard in our land, as well as devastation or destruction within our borders. Through Your great mercy, call our walls Salvation, and our gates Praise.

In Jesus’ name we pray that You bring good news to the poor; bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and the open the prison to those who are bound; proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in the Philippines, especially the victims of Martial Law — to give them beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of spirit of despair; that we may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that You may be glorified.

That through Your grace, we shall build up the ancient ruins; we shall raise up the former devastation; we shall repair the ruined cities; the devastation of many generations.

Instead of our shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor we shall rejoice in our lot; therefore in our land we shall possess a double portion; we shall have everlasting joy.

 

For You Lord love justice; You hate robbery and wrong. Let Your justice prevail, now and always.

 

Guide our leaders in the executive, judiciary, and legislative branch, O God. May these earthly authorities submit to Your goodness and justice.
Send forth Your Spirit to guide us, strengthen us, and comfort us in the mighty name of Jesus.
Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sinned against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Erosion and Restoration

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
– Timothy Keller

It is quite easy to love the desirable—the beauty and light, within and without. However, the same  cannot be said for parts that are still broken, unpolished, and still captured in the dark.

But the good news is, God loves us and uses us in spite of us. In spite of our brokenness. In spite of our rough edges. In spite of our fallen bodies of death. In spite of the fact that we loved other things before we loved Him, and tend to love other things apart from Him.

But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). This is how transcendental Christ’s love is. This is the grace that encapsulates and carries the whole world. His is a love that covered us, even while we were (and still are) sinners.

Because truly, if left to ourselves, we will find nothing worthy among us and nothing worthy within us to be loved. David was right when he confessed his dependence upon the Lord in Psalm 16:2: “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my LORD; I have no good apart from You.'”

But thanks be to God, we can rejoice in our nothingness, knowing that we have everything we’ll ever need and hope to be in Christ.

Vertically, we are recipients of this amazing love. Horizontally, we are to share this love by His grace and for His glory.

However, our default mode as sinners finds it hard to love the broken and unpolished in other people. We find it even more difficult to accept the broken and unpolished parts within us.  But no matter the difficulty, we can only love others the way Christ has loved us when we choose to love despite the imperfect layers of others’ simultaneously-saint-and-sinner selves, including their redeemed fallen history and (slowly) progressing sanctification story. We will never find a spotless and blameless person, anyway. We are left with sinners to love and be loved by. It is a cursed world, after all. But not one without love, joy, and hope.

 

To be Christ-like is far from easy, yes. Yet, to love others the way He loves us is the only love that can stand even after everything else has faded away. It is the only love that is worth having and keeping. Everything else falls short of the standard God has set for how love should be.

With that being said, here’s another rough poem I wrote from July 2016 about reassuring someone that just as Christ has fully, truly, and deeply loved me for me and in spite of me in ALL seasons of my life, I commit to learning to do the same, day by day.

Our individual histories can be clouded with shadows and smokes. Surely, there are things in there that we are not proud of. Even now, we remain short of His glory. But all of sins past, present, and future have already been atoned for and redeemed by the blood of Christ. We must see others in this light, too. For God’s power is at work in them as well.

Our love for others should transcend their histories and flaws—just as Christ’s love for us has transcended the walls we built for ourselves, and redeemed us from our very own histories and flaws.

May we find comfort in the fact that the Hands who write the stories of our lives and the lives of those we love belong to the God of infinite wisdom, love, and mercy. We should not lose heart for being  far from who we are meant to be in Christ. Because He, who started a good work in us, will carry it on to completion. Until the very end.

Love is not blind. It sees, and it sanctifies.

PALIMPSEST
Word of the Day 🙂
PALIMPSEST

24 July 2016 🌹

Tiers of words
On old sturdy sheets —
Our souls are coated
With lifetimes and histories.
An overlay of fading ink
In the layering of sights,
I read through seams of tears
Deeper into your eyes.
They are all yours.
They are all you.
Imprinted on your heart,
Those holes and parts.
Our rough parched parchments
Have been written on more than once —
Letters of yesterdays scraping off,
Making way for new starts.
We are scrolls of death and rebirth,
Of binding and undoing,
Of vanishing old scribbles
That remain legible, though fading.
Time is evidence of all changes made;
Obliterated manuscripts are written on again.
What we cannot decipher now
Are outweighed by a Vow.
The story goes on.
The paper lives on.
The Writer knows what He does;
Each end is a start.
All layers of new,
Reveal who we truly are.
What stays in print
Are the truths we cannot lose.
We can lose what we can,
But Truth stands in eternal truce.
Right on our vellum’s surface,
We find each other’s names.
We are new promised tomorrows,
Waiting to be fulfilled yesterdays.
As I read you through
Stratum of eras and ends,
Let me assure you that in all that you are,
I love you.
I will do so,
Until the very end.


Tigway

 

Tigway is a vernacular term which refers to the freeing of a tethered animal (usually a kind of cattle) and then leading it to a pasture where its shepherd or goatherd or cowherd can feed it.

cropped-15540707_1357627160946257_2399893664549877355_o.jpg

The process begins when the shepherd/goatherd/cowherd unties the rope that binds the animal to a tree, then walks the animal to fields of green and/or where water runs freely.

The film starts with a man leading an animal to a land of green grass. It ends with the same unblemished animal leading the man to fields of green.

Enjoy. This is Maya Angelique Jajalla’s first short film (February 2015)—an output for her Communication 61 – Film Appreciation class under Prof. Ian Rosales Casocot.

 

The Cast:
Micah Ceriales as “Micah”
Dave Trasmonte as “Jonas”
Vida Genilla as “Martha” (the aunt)
Liv Vilar as “Nang Lucia”
Stanley Alcala as the lawyer

Cinematographers:
Sha’ianne Lawas
Anwyl Sy
Gerick Fred JJ Gonzales

Video Editor: Stanley Alcala

Original songs specially made for “Tigway” by Kristine Fernandez:
“Tethered”
“Child-like”
“Ransomed”
“Saligan”

Written and directed by Maya Jajalla

“Papa, human na.”
(Father, it is finished.)

_________________________________

Click on the link to watch the full film:

Tigway (Maya Jajalla, 2015)

 

Movie poster, designed by Stanley Alcala:

1 TIGWAYPoster-ConceptA-2

 

 

Buds of Fire

Sometimes, wisdom dictates for us to wait for something, even when it is already there. 🙂

Here’s a spontaneous poem (in all of its rough draft glory) that I wrote on July 24, 2016.

 

INCENSE

(24 July 2016)

 

INCENSE (1)

 

Dead embers are what they once were.

Until your wind came over.

 

 

I cupped what’s left of the coals,

But somehow your air made it through my frail fingers.

 

 

You were not too strong.

You were not too subtle.

You were just right.

You were there all along.

 

 

Gently, your breeze made its way around

The spaces between my hands.

My heart was set ablaze;

You fanned the flames —

A first in my case.

 

 

At first, a faint light.

Next, an undeniable spark.

Slowly, a fire.

Then a torch.

Until I can cup the flames no more.

 

 

My sleeping heart made a sound.

Like matchsticks to stones,

We ignited on this ground.

 

 

You don’t believe in happenstance.

It was all too well-written not to be bound.

 

 

All in time, I can show the world this fire.

I can share the light of this flame.

But for now, it must be tamed.

For now, it must not have a name.

 

For now, we extinguish the furnace of the past;

Submerge in water the burning pains it cast.

 

But the smoke is rising,

To consume and be consumed is tempting.

But vehement flames without control

Can both destroy and be destroyed.

Quick death awaits the reckless fire that makes hell—

A flame that swiftly rages on.

 

 

So we slow down the flames of longing,

Be steady in our burning.

We must slow down the flames of longing

And be steady in our burning.

To not lose sight 

Of where we’re heading.

 

 

Let’s keep our flames burning in heaven

Where hell’s fire cannot use it.

Let’s keep our flames burning for Him

So it does not kill us both.

 

 

Let us wait for this flicker to be stable,

Let us wait until our hearts are better able.

For our flame is not made

To make ashes from woods,

But to purify metals

And refine gold.

 

We are gold.

 

And forever we’ll catch fire

Even when we grow old.

 

Love, I promise you

I will keep this wick strong and long

For a flame that lasts

Until heartbeat’s last;

To our promises and hopes,

To you and for you, my love,

I will hold on.

I will hold fast.  

 

Christ: The only Mediator between men and God

 

16300018_1426759754032997_4775554858530724318_o.jpg

 

Jesus is the Way to the Father (John 14:6).

The only Way.

Scripture clearly tells us this.

Scripture, however, does not tell us that Mary is the Way to Jesus.

In the beginning of John Chapter 2, we see that Mary told Jesus that there was no wine during the wedding feast at Cana. Jesus then told her: “Why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.”

Mary then said to the servants, “Do whatever [Jesus] tells you.”

Jesus then performed His first miracle of turning water into wine. Many interpret these verses as the “Biblical basis” for making Mary the mediator between people and Christ.

But contrary to popular belief, these verses are not conclusive that in order for Jesus to “perform miracles in our lives”, or grant to us our petitions, or even “save” us, we must approach Mary first. Nowhere in the text says that. In fact, Mary was not involved in Christ’s teaching and healing ministries, as we would see in the succeeding chapters and books in the Gospel.

If we need another mediator to reach the Mediator, then the Mediator isn’t much of a Mediator, isn’t He? If we need another mediator other than Christ, then that would mean that Jesus is simply not enough as our High Priest—the One who empathizes with us, prays on our behalf, and is the source of eternal salvation (Hebrews 4:14-5:10). This would then contradict the Gospel, and is taking from Christ the Glory that belongs to Him alone.

For there is one God, and there is one MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

_____

Not intending to sway you to believe in what I believe in. Just giving you something to think about. 🙂

P.S.

This is just a brief reaction to the many Mary-worshiping Facebook posts I saw today. Today happened to be her “birthday” in this side of the planet. Although people who have been used by the Lord in Scriptures are worthy of emulating up to a certain extent, Christ is the only perfect representation of the Father’s holiness and love. No one else. Nothing else. In Christ alone, our hope is found.