AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE WHO GREW UP IN A CHRISTIAN CHURCH

For the longest time, I thought I have been a christian since I was in elementary, but in my recent study of God's Word (both from the pulpit and my own quiet time) I discovered that I have only been a real follower of Jesus when I was 27 years old...

Did you grow up in the church? 

If yes, you probably attended Sunday School, went to Daily Vacation Bible School every summer, volunteered in ministries and was present in camps and retreats.  You also might have known many things about the Lord and about the church.  How do I know?  I grew up inside the church too. I remember going alone or being with my parents.  Sometimes, I even tell people that "I have been a christian since birth", just because it felt that way.  So yes, I have been a "christian" for the longest time, and people around me also know that I have been a born-again christian and that I grew up inside the church.

HOWEVER, although I was always in church, looking back, my life did not reflect the God that I "follow".  I disobeyed my parents, lied, manipulated people, thinks highly of myself and often discontent. I also only read God's Word after camps and when needed (like before a church event, or when I am tasked to do "something big" in the ministry.)  I also plunged into sin and decided to stay there even though I knew it was wrong (I was in a promiscuous relationship for around 2 years).  If you place me in a group of people, no one would guess I have Jesus in my life. I was not different.  I do what people around me do.  If I was with Christians, you will find me praying and talking about the Lord.  If I am with my good friends who are in another faith, you would find me tolerating and glorifying sin.  In short, I was living a double life.  Holy in the church. Full of myself outside.

Then, there was this time in my life I remember so well. I was at the lowliest point of my life. I knelt down and in tears I just told God, "I am so tired of my life and that I wanted Him to take over".  The next day was different. I ended my relationship, made choices that glorifies the Lord and was serious about Jesus.  Now people thought it was Bryan who gave that change because that was also around that time I met him -- but no, it was God.


2 Corinthians 5:17 


This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!


For the longest time, I thought I have been a christian since I was in elementary, but in my recent study of God's Word (both from the pulpit and my own quiet time) I discovered that I have only been a real follower of Jesus when I was 27 years old (that night I cried to the Lord).  How did I know?  

1.  It is only after at 27 years old that I am so eager to share my faith. I want to mention Jesus in every conversation.  I also want others to see how He changed my life. I came to the point that every reunion, coffee time or a simple event is an opportunity to share who God is. In the past, I only think of sharing Jesus if I am in a camp or evangelistic event.  When I am in my usual day, I do not really care about sharing or talking about God.  

2.  I can't go on without reading the Bible anymore.  Before, I only read it one week after a camp or before a church event that I am leading.  Now, when I miss it, I feels terrible.  And, I could not go on with life if I have not read it for like 3 days.  AND, IT HAS BEEN LIKE THIS FOR THE PAST 5 OR MORE YEARS!  This is not an "effect of revival. retreat or camp" anymore, but of Jesus.  To add, I read the Bible not for scholarly reasons, but so I can get to know the Lord more and discover His beauty and wrath.

3.  And the sin issue?! I have never felt so bad after sinning.  But hey, I still sin, okay?.  But when I realized that I have sinned and wronged someone, I feel so guilty.  My stomach goes up and down and sometimes, I see myself in tears.  Also, to be honest, I do not scheme on how I can do things on my own way.  I used to be like this before.  Before too, "I will (intentionally) sin, then I will just ask the Lord to forgive me, anyway, I am saved already. and besides, God always forgives"

4.  In the past, my greatest concern was, what if things do not happen on how I wanted it to be?  Now, I am so scared of NOT being in the center of God's will.  I am so fearful of not obeying the Lord. Years back, when it would benefit me, I would certainly get it.  So at present, even though it will be "good" for me, but if it contradicts God's Word, with God's grace, I would run away from it. 

5.  Lastly, my life was transformed. Age, work, marriage and motherhood, can make us mature, BUT ONLY GOD CAN TRANSFORM.  To be honest, I do not know myself anymore.  My dreams and plans have changed.  Sometimes, I am like, "HOY MICO, WORK HARD SO YOU CAN TRAVEL HARDER", then the Holy Spirit in me, rebukes me.  Then suddenly, I am like. "I need to work harder so I can reach more and share the gospel to more".  To give an illustration, few weeks back, we went to Boracay.  In the past, I pray for blue skies and lots of sunshine for a good tan.  Now, I pray that I will be seated to people I can share the talk and gospel with.  This is not maturity, this is transformation.  Something that no amount of kids or age can give, but only God!  

But, hey, I am not an extremist :)  I still have wants and dreams, but I am so okay if I do not get it.  It is just that, my desires and purpose have changed. How? I do not know.  It became so natural and explainable.  I have to be honest, that now, in all my conversations, my aim is to point Jesus to Christ.  And that my insides grieve when I see people disobeying, or worse, having a miserable life because they do not follow God's Word.

Now, why am I blogging about this? because  (1)I do not want to you to fall into the trap of fake Christianity.    And second reason I am writing you is... (2) I do not want God to tell you..."I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws."


Matthew 7: 21-23

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 
Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 
22On judgment day many will say to me, 
Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name 
and performed many miracles in your name.’ 
23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. 
Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Now, how did I know I was NOT a Christian and a follower of Christ?

1.   Because I knew I was sinning and I continued.  My excuse were either the ff: "I can't get rid of it", "I am not ready to give it up", "I will "enjoy" this first and ask for forgiveness after I do it."

PS. Again, I still sin but God convicts me hard, and I go back to Him as soon as I can.  I just can't keep on sinning!


1 John 3:9 

 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because
God's life is in them.
So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God

2.  I was not transformedI was the same Mico.  I just improved and matured.  But you know what guys, transformation is so different! I have experienced it.  You will really not be the same again.  You will long for God, His Words, and anything about God.  And your greatest fear would be sinning and not being in the center of God.  
2 Corinthians 5:1
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; 
behold, new things have come.

4.  In the past, I only have ministries, activities and church events.  Without all those things, if you would look closely in my like, I did not truly walk with God.
Ezekiel 36:25-27
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances


The truth is, there are results, when you TRULY surrender your self to Christ. And PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE THE CHANGE. You would even be persecuted. And lastly, the Holy Spirit will cause you to walk with God and His statutes ( Ezekiel 36:25-27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances).

Again, just because you grew up inside the church and you know the Gospel, it does not mean you are a follower of Jesus. To my fellow Sunday schoolers, attendees of DVBS and church camps, have a legit check please. Without the ministry, the activities and your church barkada, who are you? How are you and God? Have you surrendered everything to Him? Are you really a follower of Jesus? Again (and again and again), the TRUE GOSPEL LEADS TO REPENTANCE AND NEW LIFE.




BUILDING YOUR MARRIAGE ONE BRICK AT A TIME - MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE CLUTTER FREE

Do you like clutter?  I don't like it, especially on my marriage.

A relationship is better when there are no unnecessary things around.  What do I mean by this?  These are objects or events that take up space in your marriage.  You may not see them harmful as now, but it can be damaging in the long run.  Let me give you a list that you should consider ending.

1.  Social Media - You can set rules, husbands and wives! Do not be afraid to cut-off your time on social media.  I am not saying you should not use it, but I am sure you would agree that too much use of it  limits your time with family.  To begin, you can start by disallowing phones during meal times, malling, when in bed and car rides.  This would also be a good time for you to show your kids that you can be away from your gadgets.  Instead if tinkering your apps, talk to your family. Ask the highlights of each other's day, hold hands, sing in the car or simply share stories.  I mean, when was the last time you actually exchange stories with the person you married?  Ditch your phone, and start talking!

2.  Me-time or barkada time - If you do not date your wife or husband, but you spend time being alone or with friends, then this is considered a clutter.  The key is prioritizing.  Be sure that your wife or husband is spoiled with your time before thinking of spending a day of it without him or her.

3.  Unnecessary expenses  - One of the things that couples argue about is money.  This mean that your unnecessary buys can spark discussions.  There are two rules that I want to share with you when buying stuff.  Do I need it?  Do I need it NOW?  If the answer is "no" in any of the questions, then put it down and walk away.


4.  Dreams and kids - Be careful!  These two are some of the main reasons why people get married, sadly, these two are the same reasons why couples break apart.  IF your dreams and kids get it the way of having a good relationship with your spouse, re asses and choose marriage.  Let me make myself clear, I am not saying to let go of your dreams or give away your kids, I am suggesting you check your daily routine and see if you REALLY have time for your wife/husband.  At the end of the day, it does not matter if you are "working hard for your future", what is important is TODAY.  The beautiful future you are aiming will not be there if you do not work on your today.  Sayang naman.  You keep on working to prepare your family 10 years from now, yun pala, your family will not make it because you have forgotten your today.




Identify your clutter, and prayerfully ask God if it is hindering a meaningful marriage.  If these things slow you down, then, get rid of it.  


Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.