Jesus the Carpenter

By Lauren V. Macaraeg

Jesus was a carpenter. The thought popped into my head last night while I was nursing a headache from too much writing (and no matching jogging to clear the cobwebs from my head while my foot is healing). I rubbed my temples in frustration and remembered that Jesus was also a creative Person. I know He is the Creator, of course, but for some strange reason, I don’t always remember to equate that with His creativity.

So I imagined Jesus hammering away in His workshop and wondered: Did Jesus also experience difficulties as a carpenter? As a creative professional? Did the Maker of the Universe, who can rearrange the structure of molecules and choreograph the dance of stars and galaxies, find it stifling to work with bits and pieces of lumber and awkward human tools? Or did He find the limitations stimulating and challenging? I’m leaning towards the latter.

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Remembering the stories how Jesus always, always made the best out of everything during His short life on earth, I believe He must have enjoyed the challenge of channeling His infinite creative power into a smaller creative sphere as well. May He also grant me the joy to stay creative and positive in spite of my own limitations.

I wish I could have seen some of Jesus’ carpentry works. He must have been one heck of a terrific Carpenter.

“Is not this the Carpenter?” (Mark 6:3)

“’Cause you’re a sky, ’cause you’re a sky full of stars.” – “A Sky Full Of Stars”, Coldplay, Instrumental Cover by The Piano Guys

#ShepherdsWorld #LaurenMacScribbles #LaurenMacDoodles #SprainGame #FootFilosophy

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The Birthday Gift

By Lauren V. Macaraeg

My friend gave me a #Birthday gift the other day. She said, “Sabi ko kay Lord kanina, gusto kita bigyan ng gift kaya lang wala akong pera today. Sabi sa akin ni Lord, ‘Bigyan mo siya ng gift para alam niyang na-appreciate mo siya.‘” [“I told the Lord earlier that I wanted to give you a gift, but I don’t have money today. The Lord told me, ‘Give her a gift so she knows you appreciate her’”]. She apologized to me because her gift was just a simple one. I didn’t know whether to smile or cry.

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It reminded me of the story of the poor widow who gave a gift that was small in men’s eyes but big in God’s eyes. I’ve had more elaborate or expensive surprises in my lifetime, during past birthdays and even when there was no special occasion, but this cute gift is just as precious to me as the others. It touched my heart in a special way. So thank you 🙂

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)

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Foot Filosophy: Christmas in Summer

By Lauren M.

Thanks to my ankle sprain & Rick Astley, I understand the meaning of Christmas more deeply this summer :p Huwaaat?! Yep. Here are #FootFilosophy thoughts I’ve had while I’ve been forced to slow down:

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  1. I’m thankful for the people in my life. Earlier this year, I’ve grown to appreciate that my family & friends want to be with me, which I used to take for granted. Now, my sprained ankle is helping me appreciate the effort that a lot of people have made over the years just to be with me. Strangely, I’m flooded with memories. Memories of relatives, friends & churchmates in the US making me hatid-sundo so I could join them in family gatherings, Bible studies and even “wala lang” bondings, especially when I was sickly (& I was cranky pa because I used to want to be “independent” & hated needing help from others lol). Memories of high school & college barkada literally going out of their way or offering to meet up in convenient venues or giving each other rides so we could hang out. Memories of my Dgroup girls helping push my mom’s wheelchair & helping us to carry things & to get a cab when my mom had a fracture. Now that I have a foot injury, I’m making new memories with friends whom I can literally lean on while I can’t walk properly. Di naman kailangan. I don’t ask or expect everyone to do it. But many of you did it voluntarily. You all know who you are. All I can say is, “Thank you for the grace” 😀
  2. I’m thankful for Christmas. Learning to appreciate the effort people have made to be with me helped me appreciate better that Jesus left all the splendors of heaven to go down to this beautiful, but sorta grubby planet Earth, just to be with us. He didn’t have to, you know. Di naman kailangan. But He did it because He wanted to be with us. It reminds me of Rick Astley’s “Together Forever” song: “And don’t you know I would move heaven and earth to be together forever with you.” Thank You to the great Emmanuel, God with us!
  3. I’m thankful for my feet. Grateful that my feet can literally touch the ground, now that I’m sure it’s just a sprain, not a fracture. I’m thankful for past & future adventures my feet & I have walked & will walk into.
  4. Some injuries need time and rest to heal. We cannot put a band-aid on all wounds. And I’m not just talking about physical injuries. We need to acknowledge how hurt we are to begin to heal.
  5. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10). If we won’t stay still, God will sometimes make us still. Not to harm us, but just to give us time with Him – to rest and to heal and to simply enjoy His presence. Captive audience hahaha!

I’m limiting my activities while my foot is healing. I hope you understand if I can’t go to places where I need to walk far for now. Gaya ng sabi ni Rick Astley, “So don’t stop me falling, it’s destiny calling.” Wherever your feet take you this weekend, I wish you all a fantastic one… together, forever! 🙂

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Doubting Our Identity in God (“Because He First Loved Us” – Part 3)

By Lauren V. Macaraeg & AQUA Grace: Joanie Yu, Cherry De Guzman, Frida Ira Sampiano, Adi Pestano, Leslie Manguba, Ena Pineda

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

You’ve probably watched long-lost sons and daughters of millionaires living like paupers in telenovelas. Another common trick that kontrabidas* use to make the lives of the bidas** miserable is to hide their true identity from them. Again, the same goes true for the love story between God and man.

Meet Ginger. She is a tiny, but powerful horse. Yet she is not able to utilize her full strength or speed because she shakes with fear. She is even nervous when little dogs bark at her! I'm praying for this beautiful horse. She frustrated me while I was riding her, but I still like her :) (May 25, 2014, Mt. Makiling Re-creation Center ) Photo by Lauren Macaraeg

Meet Ginger. She is a tiny, but powerful horse. Yet she is not able to utilize her full strength or speed because she shakes with fear. She is even nervous when little dogs bark at her! I’m praying for this beautiful horse. She frustrated me while I was riding her, but I still like her 🙂 (May 25, 2014, Mt. Makiling Re-creation Center ) Photo by Lauren Macaraeg

Those of us who have genuinely put our faith in Jesus Christ have a new identity in the Lord. We are now the beloved children of God (John 1:12-13). The enemy, however, doesn’t want us to know who we truly are in Christ or to realize the full extent of this truth. That’s why he tries so hard to deceive us about our identity.

The enemy even tried to deceive Jesus Himself about His identity during the time He was on earth! From the temptation of Jesus, we can see some of the tactics that the enemy uses when he tries to confuse us about our identity in Christ.

First, the enemy tried to make Jesus doubt His identity by doubting God’s word. The very first word he used was “if”. The truth was that Jesus was the Son of God, the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). Yet by opening his words with an “if”, the enemy tried to cast doubt upon the truth about Jesus’ identity:

“If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matt. 4:3)

The enemy also tried to make Jesus doubt His identity by appealing to Jesus’ physical appetite by mentioning bread. Jesus must have been especially hungry after fasting for forty days and forty nights so the enemy tried to use this hunger to his advantage.

Jesus, however, didn’t entertain doubt about His identity as the Son of God nor give in to his physical hunger for food. Instead, he showed His unwavering faith in His Father by quoting God’s word:

“But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4)

When the enemy realized that Jesus had faith in God’s Word, he also tried to use God’s word to make Jesus doubt His identity, but by twisting it to his own selfish purposes. He encouraged Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God by jumping off from the top of the temple. The enemy even quoted Scripture to make his point, but he used God’s word out of context. Jesus silenced the enemy simply by saying that we should not put the LORD God to the test (Matt. 4:5-7).

We can see the enemy’s desperation towards the end of his showdown with Jesus. He tried to make Jesus doubt His identity by directly lying about his own identity! The enemy does have power, but he is certainly not the king of the universe. He acted though as if he was the king of the universe by offering to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would worship him (Matt. 4:8-9). Yet it was to Jesus, the Son of God, to whom all the kingdoms of the world rightfully belonged! Jesus, who could have rubbed this truth in the enemy’s face, simply said:

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’” (Matt. 4:10)

After this, the enemy left Jesus in defeat (Matt. 4:11). Jesus used the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, to become victorious over the enemy (Eph. 6:17).

If you noticed, the enemy used similar tactics when he tried to deceive Jesus and when he tried to deceive Eve. He tried to appeal to their physical appetite and their emotions. He twisted the Scriptures and told direct lies. Most importantly, the enemy tried to make them doubt God’s word.

The difference in the outcome of both temptations lied in the difference in how Eve and Jesus reacted to the enemy’s tactics.

Eve almost immediately doubted God’s word. Because of her doubt, she became vulnerable to doubting God’s character and God’s love.

Jesus, on the other hand, firmly believed in God’s word so the enemy was not able to proceed any further with His deceptive tactics. The enemy kept saying “if”, a sign of doubt. Jesus kept saying “It is written”, a proof of faith in God and in His word.

Because of His immovable faith in God’s word, Jesus did not doubt His identity as the Son of God, nor did He doubt God’s character or God’s love.

Like Jesus, may we always believe in the powerful, trustworthy word of God. And may we always believe in our true identity as children of God!

*kontrabidas – Filipino word for “villains”
**bidas – Filipino word for “protagonists”

 

REFLECT & RECOLLECT (R&R)
1. Are there lies about your identity in God that you believe in or used to believe in?
2. How has your life been affected by lies about your identity in God that you believe in or used to believe in? What specific areas of your life are or were especially affected?

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Doubting God’s Love (“Because He First Loved Us” Series – Part 2)

By Lauren V. Macaraeg & AQUA Grace: Joanie Yu, Jhem El Mundo, GL Udarbe, Cherry De Guzman, Adi Pestano

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

There are countless love stories where the kontrabida* tries to separate the leading man and the leading lady through tricks of deception. The same is true for the greatest love story of all – the love story between God and man.

God always loves us. That is the truth. But we don’t always believe, realize, feel or know this truth.

The enemy doesn’t want us to know the truth. That’s why he tries so hard to deceive us that God doesn’t love us. He desperately wants to separate us from God.

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God gave Eve and Adam so many fruits to choose from in the Garden of Eden. Who knows? Perhaps the juicy, tangy guyabano was one of these fruits! (May 24, 2014, Mt. Makiling Re-creation Center ) Photo by Lauren Macaraeg

The first lie of the enemy to mankind was the serpent’s lie to Eve, which was designed to make her ultimately doubt God’s love (Gen. 3:1-7). The serpent was called crafty because he didn’t go out and tell Eve straight to her face that God didn’t love her. The enemy gradually built a twisted, complicated lie to confuse Eve and make her vulnerable to believing a falsehood.

To start with, the enemy tried to make Eve doubt God’s word. This was what God said to Adam:

“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16)

What God said was clear and straightforward. But the serpent twisted God’s word and presented his own version of it to Eve:

“He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1)

Logically, there was no basis for the serpent’s words which contradicted God’s word. But simply by planting a seed of doubt in God’s word, the enemy succeeded in affecting Eve almost immediately, as we can see from what she told the serpent:

“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Gen. 3:3)

Eve did correct the serpent’s words… but she herself added something to God’s word that wasn’t originally there. She said that God told them they would die if they touched the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (you can almost hear her sniff and sigh, “I know, right? Poor me!”). God never said that!

By trying to make Eve doubt God’s word, the enemy tried to make her doubt God’s character. By insinuating that God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from any tree in the garden, he was attempting to make her doubt God’s generosity. The truth was that God had abundantly provided for Adam and Eve with a wide variety of fruits for them to enjoy – it was better than an eat-all-you-can buffet! The lie the enemy wanted Eve to believe was that God was a stingy killjoy who deprived them of their needs and wants.

By trying to make Eve doubt God’s character, the enemy tried to make her doubt God’s love. After twisting God’s word, the serpent then told a direct lie by saying that Eve will not die if she eats the fruit (Gen. 3:4-5). In doing so, the enemy wanted Eve to think that God was lying to her and withholding something good from her. In short, he wanted Eve to think that God doesn’t love her.

Sadly, Eve fell for the enemy’s deception. Because she doubted God’s word, character and love and believed in the serpent’s word instead, she acted as if the enemy’s word was the truth. She ate the forbidden fruit and gave some to her husband. In short, she sinned against God.

This is a perfect illustration of James 1:15: “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Eve’s desire for the fruit and for knowledge gave birth to sin in her heart, such as doubt, pride and envy. Doubt in God’s love, pride in craving knowledge that was not meant for her, envy of the power of knowledge that God had. The sin in her heart led her to perform an act of sin, which Adam participated in. Their sin led to death, just as God said it would, even if the enemy said it wouldn’t. Eve and Adam experienced physical death. And even worse, they experienced spiritual death – separation from the LORD God.

Thankfully, the separation of God and man because of sin is not the final act in the greatest love story in history!

*kontrabida – Filipino word for “villain”

REFLECT & RECOLLECT (R&R)
1. Are there lies about God’s love that you believe in or used to believe in?
2. How has your life been affected by lies about God’s love that you believe in or used to believe in? What specific areas of your life are or were especially affected?

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Knowing God’s Love (“Because He First Loved Us” Series – Part 1)

By Lauren V. Macaraeg & AQUA Grace: Joanie Yu, Adi Pestano, Cherry De Guzman, GL Udarbe, Jhem El Mundo

“We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

What do you think is the most important thing of all?

a) Loving God
b) Knowing that God loves us
c) Both

Most of us Christians are taught to love God more than we love ourselves. We are encouraged by our church leaders to show our love for God by loving others and by serving Him in ministry. And that is just right.

However, it is also right for us to dwell on God’s love for us. It’s not about being self-centered or feeling good about ourselves. We shouldn’t go to one extreme and wrongly view God as our personal genie who only exists to fulfill our selfish wishes. However, we shouldn’t go to the other extreme and neglect to enjoy God’s love for us.

It is not only important, but essential, that we know with our whole being that God loves us. Why? Because it is only when we are secure in God’s love that we can truly love Him back. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

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This is where the “Because He First Loved Us” series was born – at Mt. Makiling Re-creation Center (May 24, 2014) Photo by Lauren Macaraeg

The foundation of our faith is the love of God. We can’t have faith in nothing; our faith needs an object. We enter a building because we have faith that it is built strongly enough to hold our weight. And we believe that the love of God is strong enough to save us.

But there is much more to know about God’s love than that it is strong enough to save us. The wonders of His love are unfolded the more we get to know Him. And a relationship between us and God grows as we grow to know this love more and more.

If we don’t know in our hearts that God loves us, we will merely serve Him like a servant serves his master or as an employee serves her boss. Our acts of service to Him will become mechanical tasks that are required by duty.

But if we delight in His love, we will grow more in love with the Lord and our service will become a beautiful outflow of our love for Him.

Even as we seek to know His love more, we should remember that it is the Lord Himself who enables us to know that He loves us. We used to be dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1). And dead people cannot feel anything – they’re dead!

It was God who gave us life and power to start to feel His love when we first came to know Him (Eph. 2:4-5). And it is also God who will enable us to continue to grow in the knowledge of His love.

We pray that the Lord Himself will empower us to know His love more and more as we continue this series!

“That according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-18)

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The Unexpected God: The Piece of Me I Didn’t Know I Needed

By Lauren M.

God comes to us in unexpected forms, moves in our lives in unexpected ways, and asks us to respond in unexpected ways. And I don’t always like that. Because it could mean that our whole world – and even our very selves – could be turned upside down and inside out.

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Caiaphas Station, Walkway Stations of the Cross Exhibit, Bonifacio High Street, Philippines
Maundy Thursday, April 17, 2014

That’s why the Caiaphas station at the Walkway exhibit had a strong impact on me. I realized that I have my own “carefully constructed view of the world” and “pre-conceived ideas of how God should work” in my life. I learned that I have a hard time accepting it when the Lord allows my own views – of life, of other people, and even of my very self – to crumble down. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I sometimes try to run away from God without realizing at first that that is what I’m doing.

But I also learned that the very views and ideals that I treasure could actually come between me and the Lord. And at the end of the day, Jesus is more important to me than my dreams.

My prayer is that, from this point onwards, I will learn to trust God or at least begin to try. May He Himself continue to open my eyes to His truth.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I do know that my Lord’s ways are higher than our ways and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). And I know He loved us enough to die for us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

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