So Much...So Much More...(For The Graduates)

“This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." – Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

“Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” – Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

“You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail.” – Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

This coming Friday will mark a milestone, not just for our son, but for us, his parents. It is their graduation day. I’m sure it’s just not my husband and I, but all parents anticipate this special day. We can humbly say, that each year, my son has shown how much courage he learned every time. Through each success or failure, he has shown nothing but perseverance and patience. Through each struggle, he has shown strength to not “go with the flow” and doesn’t care what peers or this world has to say. As long as he knows…he’s standing for what is right. By God’s grace, he remains:  Steadfast… True…

He labored many sleepless nights. To keep his good grades.Year after year… And to show his true love for Graphic Design. Most peers and teachers acknowledging his contribution of his art to his highschool. And to others who needed his help… But deep inside he knows, he can’t do it alone. Deep inside, he is sure…that it is only by trusting God that enables him to survive whatever storm of trial he has gone through. The more it settles in…that the coming days ahead are not a well-known place he is about to enter…As an adult. The more he needs to trust in Him…

And as parents, we can either fear the “unknown” or choose to trust His promise that He never forsakes us. We often forget… Fear is not bigger than God…So it is with worries. But thanks be to God! We know Who holds that “unknown”…The future…And it’s only by His hands, that we can all be secure…As long as we trust and believe…And have faith…

Growing up, I always quizzed my son…about His Word…the sWORD…the only weapon from God’s Armor we can use to attack. With His power, that’s what we use in this daily battle we face…That my son faces…

Because His Word, the sWORD, is sharper than any two-edged sword. It convicts, slashes and removes doubts, corrects errors, disciplines, forgives, heals, strengthens, protects, gives hope and a future, drives away the enemies, kills the enemies, frees… Loves…Is merciful…Full of grace…

His Word…God Himself… 

"Proverbs 3:5?," I suddenly asked my son yesterday as we were having breakfast together before him going to school…

A morsel of food fell on his plate as he replied quickly:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”

So…this Friday…I pray…not only for my son…but for all of you who are graduating…Know God…before you venture into the “unknown…” Before you use more of those talents God has given to each of us…Because also in that “future”… it is not the 10% we give to God that matters…

God gives that 90% and also that 10% from us. Actually, it’s just not 100%. His love and grace overflows… He always gives so much… 

So much more…

It's Worth Remembering

One by one, the throng of parents and their children filled the seats in the center of the gym and all those benches that surrounded them. The seats reserved for well-deserving students who had worked so hard to achieve their high grades and other accomplishments. My son, sitting among his friends, turned his head toward the left side to find me and my husband, sitting comfortably on the second tier as we heard the highschool’s band playing a welcoming music to everyone who entered. 

The program started with us singing the anthem as we stared at the students holding the flags, our right hands placed in the mid-chests. I opened the flyer handed out earlier as we walked in and continually checked the progression of the special ceremony. As every well-deserving student received the awards, parents were overwhelmed with the huge number of our children being recognized this year. 

I clapped hard when my son’s name was called numerous times. My husband clicking the shutter of his camera, trying to take a picture of this special moment. 

Before the program ended, as our ears were accustomed to loud cheers of joy and celebration, there was one cheering that stood out the most…It was when one of the school’s official asked those who were actively serving or retired from the military to stand up. Many stood up, including my husband. As the rest of us who remained seated acknowledged their sacrifice and service by cheering louder than what the honor students received. We all knew…Parents and students…Teachers and school officials…they were the ones who deserved being honored the best. For nothing could ever repay the sacrifice they paid. As each one of us enjoyed the freedom we have, here in this place.

They made it through all the sufferings they had gone through. But many also lost their lives. A choice they willingly opted for when they entered the military. Knowing that the price of freedom was high.

“Thank You, Lord,” my husband uttered, choking with each word, sniffling as the three of us prayed this morning. Without seeing him, I knew, he was crying. Crying? A man who never easily cried. But it was so clear that he was. His prayer sounding with so much gratitude. I felt the corner of my eyes welled with beads of tears, too. As I felt my son let go of my left hand and could sense him rubbing his eyes. 

We knew Who gave the biggest sacrifice. We knew Who died for us…In order for us to live.
And it’s worth remembering Him first, and then, the rest who gave their lives for us to be FREE…

Death Penalty

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. – Romans 13:1-3 (NIV)

I felt someone rubbed my arms softly as I felt her presence and opened my eyes as I waited for the numbing medicine to start working on the spot where our family dentist hit with precision… I knew her even before our previous dentist had left. She had been working in that facility for many years.

“Are you okay?” she asked as she smiled and her blue eyes looked directly as I turned my head to where she was.

“You look like…”

“Like what?” I quickly asked with concern upon hearing her statement that sounded like it wasn’t going to end nice.

“Stressed out…”

“Ahhh…Not really…At least, not at this time…except for the anticipated procedure…” I replied.

She was that kind of dental assistant who always smiled at everyone who walked in, into those individual, little rooms as the empty chairs invited every person who needed a procedure or just to have their regular dental evaluation done. She had known me for all those years my family and I had been going. I tried not to miss each 6th month visit. Despite, I had one cavity needing to be fixed this morning.

My mind didn’t stop there after what she said…

“It’s probably me…been working nights for many, many years. So, some nights, even when I’m off, I’m up…”

“Maybe…Where do you work?”

“In the prison…”

“Ohhh…I didn’t know that…” And with her mouth slightly agape, another question came out without hesitation.

“Sooo….do you support the ‘death penalty’?” 

I wasn’t sure what to say at first. I was caught off guard as I tried to talk with a growing numbness on the left side of my face. Trying to read her face, I couldn’t sense if she was for it or against it with what she just asked me.

“Ahhh…” I started carefully, not meaning to offend her point of view, but then, only to realize, I had to state my own:

“I’ve dealt with very evil men in there and yes, I support it if there is solid evidence that someone has really done such horrendous crimes one’s guilty for.”

I wasn’t sure if it was the “Jodi Arias’ case” widely-televised lately since the trial started that I noticed many people had been conversing about death penalties. Like at work. My co-workers asking many questions, too.

She didn’t say anything but nodded her head. As if to agree with what I uttered. But not allowing me to truly know what was brewing in her heart.

I could be wrong. I could be right. She could be right. She could be wrong.

The only thing that was right…no matter…was that God has the highest standard than any human being. It would be wrong to say that He wanted “death penalty” all the time for He had shown grace and mercy  in some cases.  Nor “He wouldn’t want it for those who deserved it” for He had shown His wrath somehow in some other cases.

Yes…as believers, we shouldn’t rejoice to hear a person was granted a “death penalty” yet at the same time, we could respect the authority’s decision against those who committed such the worst of the evil acts or crimes…

What’s your take on this?

Harmful Traps

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. - Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." - Romans 8:15 (NIV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. - 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)

But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. - Deuteronomy 7:8 (NIV) 

It was sad to see…Many names of prisoners who were just released. Yet…they came back to the prison. Unable to live a life outside the prison walls. Unable to function and be useful. Coupled with their habitual use of illegal substances, most of them returned in no time. Unable to get out of those things that trapped their bodies and souls. 

He was thin. A lot taller than I was. As I called his name from the waiting area, he eagerly opened the metal door and closed as I had ordered. Only to stay there as I couldn’t let him in further when the group of Inmate workers were cleaning the Clinic’s floor and making it shine. The smell of chemical reaching my already congested sinuses. He was treated at the hospital prior to my arrival at work. For abdominal pain. The source sort of vague. But with the aid of narcotics, he came back in a better spirit.

“When can I get my Morphine and MS Contin?” he asked.

“I have to put you for the doctor’s sick call, Sir. Because nurses can’t give you those not unless they write the order first.”

“That’s against the law,” he quickly fired back.

“What is?”

“If I don’t get my meds,” he tried to sound rationally.

“Did I say anything that you are not going to get them?”

He got silent. Digesting what he just said and what answer I gave back. He thought he was going to be smarter than me. Trying to intimidate and instill fear that if I didn’t succumb to his demands, law suit could be filed. The deputy was nearby. Observing and just letting me dealt with him. The deputy and I both knew…he was not the only one with behaviors like that. Quick to demand for their rights. Forgetting the fact that they were the ones who violated some laws that brought them in this dark place.

He thanked me and apologized instead. He stopped telling me what to do for what he wanted. He knew he couldn’t get away with those wishes. Because it was just fair, depending upon their needs, if justified, would in fact be given. No special treatments for anyone…

Life would be better outside, he knew that. Than to stay in the prison. But with his addiction and perhaps, lack of financial resources to feed the habit, he preferred to be behind bars. He was the one afraid of trying to escape from this trap that had consumed him for many years. Just like what the others did. They didn’t want to try. To live that life of freedom. To change their harmful lifestyles…Harmful traps…

There are so many things of this world that can trap us, as believers, if we are not careful. We always have that choice to live our lives free or not. But even more liberating is to put our hope in Jesus’ wonderful and true promises…An eternal life….Not in this world…But in His Kingdom

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2 (NIV)

My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? – John 14:2 (NIV)

And people will come from all over the world--from east and west, north and south--to take their places in the Kingdom of God. – Luke 13:29 (NLT)

The Work Crew

The need had been great...With our work’s staffing. The shortage caused by some nurses fired and others who had chosen to leave. Burdened by politics. If not, overwhelmed with work that should have been done by more nurses ended up with themselves tackling on their own.
Photo Credit

She was another Per Diem. Like me. Occasionally picking up shifts to help out. Like I usually did. She enjoyed the particular crew I usually worked with. Despite the shortage, we managed. Though overwhelmed, we learned to survive. Because we tried to help out each other. Whatever way we could.
Like her. She might be a new nurse. But she was an awesome learner. Easily learned the trade. 

Except… She was a little afraid to hear that Per Diem’s would start to float to Intake to relieve the regular nurses who were getting burned out. Intake…Where officers from so many cities would bring their arrestees. And with sicker population, the place could be like a big tornado. Ready to devastate an otherwise quiet night. Especially if arrestees would admit that they had medical and mental health issues.
We encouraged for her to taste and see how it was like. To be there on her first night not on her own but with another hardworking nurse. Who could teach her the ropes. To enable her to survive. And perhaps, lessen and vanish her fear. And she did try

I saw her last Sunday.  The Charge Nurse had sent me to help her check on the suicidal inmates and logged on the list, instead of her. So she could catch up with her charting. I was met with a huge smile. And I sensed a diminished anxiety. I could feel she was getting more comfortable in that busy place. 

“I don’t mind coming to work here now,” she uttered.

“Because no matter how busy, all of you help me,” she added.

“That’s the way it should be. You help us out, too,” I replied.

“Yeah…I guess if you’re in the right group, though busy, it doesn’t seem like it…” 

She thanked me. And I thanked her back. We said our “goodbyes” knowing that we would see each other again in the days to come. We felt good knowing that we were working with those nurses who never complained and accepted each challenge to the best ability they could. We would never fear knowing that no matter the circumstance, someone would always back us up and would easily give us that extra hand that we didn’t have. We smiled at each other despite hearing some drunk inmates housed in a nearby “sobering cells”, yelling and banging on the metal doors and glass windows. We were not fazed by their threats. I knew she discovered…There was really no room to be “an expert” in that place. Not even to be smart. Nor strong. Nor familiar with procedures or policies…For a new and fresh trial could come in from that big, fenced yard. Anytime. Any day.  And help would be there…From this whole crew…And in unity…that was where the strength came.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? – 1 John 3:17 (ESV)

Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor. – Proverbs 22:9 (NLT)

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. – Hebrews 6:10 (NIV)

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. – Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)
All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.


The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]

Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.

Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.

All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.

When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.

The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.

When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himself and ended up injuring his attacker severely.

[Source: NLT Bible ]:

We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.

“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14

Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].

Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.

Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.

Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].