Sunday’s Best: Developing your Prayer Life

With all the noisy confusion of life, loud voices of expectations coming from other people and the thundering sound of your inner voice. Can you still hear the voice of God? In this world full of distractions can you still hear that tiny voice? Or gradually you’re getting use to the noise?

The message of today’s preaching started with my pastor sharing his experience when he was in London. While he was at the airport, he spoke to saleswoman who was selling a wireless noise cancelling headphones that eliminate unwanted background noises (especially airplane engine noise) that he surely needs for his flight since he frequently travel overseas. He was really amazed because it cancels all the noise and all he can hear is the deafening sound of silence. With that illustration, he concluded that sometimes we also need that noise cancelling headphones to hear the voice of God in this noisy world especially during our prayer time.

It’s hard to pray and believe in faith, if the noise around you is cancelling the voice of the Lord. How can you stand in faith and pray if the noises of the world overpower the voice of the Lord? He shared to us ways to develop our prayer life and claim God’s promises through the Word of God in 1 Kings 18:41-46:

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” -1 Kings 18:41-46:

  1. Hear the sound of God’s promises

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” (v.41) During this time, the Israel was experiencing a drought and a famine for a long time—and God promised Ahab to send rain on the face of the earth through Prophet Elijah.

In your everyday life, you should seek to hear God’s promises—and those promises are found in the bible. Your prayers should be based on God’s promises for you. When you are praying, you are just claiming God’s promises for you. Always choose to listen to the voice of God. Don’t listen to the voice of the enemy for he’ll just surely kill, steal and destroy you. He will only throw accusations, condemnations and fears in you. But the promises of God can cancel all those arguments and produces a sound of faith in you.

  1. Turn the promises of God into intensified prayer

So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. (v.42) God’s promise of sending rain led Elijah to climb on the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. This action symbolizes intense prayer, not just an ordinary kind of prayer. Great needs demand great prayer. And desperate situation requires desperate prayer.

  1. Expect even though nothing is there

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.“There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” (v.43)

Elijah made the servant to go and look toward the sea seven times expecting the promise of rain from God. Prayer is about recognizing God. Prayer is the key to make God’s promises fulfilled. We need to constantly hear the Word of God for His promises to be established in our hearts.

  1. Persevere in God

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” (v.43)

Sometimes God will ask you to wait before the fulfillment of his promises in your prayer not because he wants to give you pain but because He wants you to love more the giver than the gift. Persevere in prayer. Prayer is spending time with God while waiting. God wants you to pursue Him during the process of waiting. He is your Father and He loves to be pursued by you. While you’re waiting for the answer to your prayer, pursue Him.

  1. Act in Faith

The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” (v. 44)

When faith believes, faith acts. For faith without action is dead. Having nothing is different from having small thing. Never underestimate the small things that God does in your lives. Faith sees small clouds. God has a promise in your life and He will start with those small clouds until heavy rain comes down.

You can listen to the complete Sunday Service preaching here. You can also visit our website www.doulosforchrist.org to learn more.

Preacher: Bishop Oriel M. Ballano
Senior Pastor, Doulos for Christ World Harvest Ministry / National G12 Coordinator

GONG CHA tea.coffee.juice

While working from home has perks, it also has its pitfalls – boredom, loneliness and isolation, just to name a few. Today I planned to go out for a change in atmosphere, to find something amusing that is worth writing and to also flex my creative juices – so I decided to go to the mall and hang out in a nice café.

I was a bit surprised to see the mall so annoyingly crowded – I was like a fool talking to myself if there’s a SALE or a concert performance but it can’t be because its only Thursday. Then it hit me big time when I realized that today is a National holiday in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of EDSA Revolution.

Well, my plan was totally ruined, I walked tirelessly for an hour looking for a place to stay but the cafes and restaurants are full packed. I jumped for joy when my eye caught a tea house — GONG CHA tea.coffee.juice. 

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Gong Cha is a tea house that was first launched in Taiwan in 2006. And there are now more than 170 tea stores popping all over Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, China, Malaysia  and now in the Philippines due to its immense popularity.

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The interior of this small tea house is of course Chinese inspired. The walls are painted red which means good luck. It’s very clean, modern, and created a nice comfortable environment to sit, relax and chat with friends in. The store was small and also packed with only four tables that can accommodate customers but with luck fall on my lap a group of friends were just about to leave when I entered, giving me a vacant table empty all for myself (Timing is really everything!)

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I was really ecstatic as I approach my throne (I mean my seat). Letting my aching feet rest and enjoy a quiet time far from the maddening crowd. Though I’m not an avid fan of milk tea I still usually go to tea house with my friends (because they really love milk tea) while me on the other hand just order frappe, smoothie or fruit tea. But the endless options of enticing, mouthwatering beverages tempt me, pushing me to try it.

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But my mind wins over my heart. I just ordered Chocolate Ice Smoothie, 100% sugar for only 105 php since I’m also craving for a sweet, chocolatey taste. I tried the taro drink with with tapioca pearls before and it was good. As you can’t have the best of both worlds this tea house doesn’t actually serve any sandwiches, pastries or bread just pure beverages. Too bad I was really starving that’s why I ended up buying food that will ease my hunger to the food stall next to this tea house which you can eat inside.

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I liked the Chocolate Ice Smoothie I ordered, the taste of bitter sweet, creamy chocolate just blend on my mouth and my favorite unsweetened sago just made me too full. Seeing the menu of enticing milk tea and fruit tea tempt me for a second round but its already too much for my stomach too handle after also eating a full meal. I just promised myself to go back with my friends and try the Gong Cha House Specialty in which they have three ways to taste and enjoy it.

  1. Taste our special cream.
    SO YUMMY!
    Open the lid and drink, feeling the tea pass through the foamy layer.
  2. Sip our freshly brewed teas.
    SO FRAGRANT!
    Insert the straw and taste the flavor of the tea.
  3. Mix the two for that
    PERFECT Gong Cha experience!
    Use the straw to stir and savor the splendid texture of the mixture.

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Though it was my first time and I went here alone, I still had a good time. The staff here are very nice, courteous and polite, the place though small, is very clean and has cozy and warm ambiance and  the options of delectable milk tea, smoothie, juice and coffee guarantee the best beverages experience. It’s an awesome place I found. If you’re just around the area, you can drop to try their best tasting beverages made from the finest ingredients on their menu.

GONG CHA is located at Ground Level Ayala Fairview Terraces. You can also check out their website gongcha.ph to check their menus and locations.

Photo source: GONG CHA

 

 

 

 

Books on the Shelf: 5 Benefits of Reading Good Books

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The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries. -Rene Descartes

I’m a self confessed book lover and book collector. For some bloggers who have already read my About Me page know that I’d rather buy books than buy new clothes or dine in fancy restaurants.

I invest in books because I fully know well that it will produce a good return in the future. I intentionally allot budget for books because I believe it’s not a value if it doesn’t cost you something. I’m forever grateful to my English teacher who removed the veil in my eyes and let me realized the importance of reading good books. Let me just share the benefits I’m enjoying from reading good books:

  1. Tranquility

How beautiful it is to sit down to read a good book while enjoying your favorite coffee or strawberry smoothie, listening to a good music in the comfort of your own home, in a cozy cafe or in a solitary place that gives you tranquility? Reading good books can bring about immense inner peace and calmness while the world is in fast forward. No matter what you’re going through at work or in your personal life it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story.

  1. Wisdom

The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm. What a great privilege to share a private conversation with great men in history and get wisdom from them first hand? Though sound impossible reading books written by those authors is surely a personal and heartfelt talk with the wisest men in history.

  1. Wider Perspective

A well-written book will transport you to others places, get you entangle to different life’s complex situation, force you to meet best and worst kinds of people, remove you from your box and let you explore a bigger and wider world that is beneficial as you face life’s difficulty.

  1. A Smarter and Better You

Reading increases your knowledge about the world, the people and how things work. It enhances you critical and analytical thinking especially when it comes to critiquing a plot, determining if the characters in the story developed as the story progress and if the story flow ran smoothly. Everything you read fills your mind with information, and you never know when you will need it. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.

  1. Easier life

Writing a published book is a tough journey took by great authors. They spent years of studying, researching and hard work to produce a well written account. It’s your advantage to read what they toil all their life. It took them years, while you can get the wisdom for just a matter of weeks or months. You don’t need to be in the same situation, their writings can be a guide for you to live an awesome life!

It doesn’t matter whether you prefer reading a physical book or a downloaded pdf file in your gadgets. Both will still cost you money. As long as you make it a habit to read, it’s your advantage. As what mark Twain said, “Those who don’t read good books have no advantage over those who can’t.”

And by the way, I created a new category on my blog ‘Books on the shelf’ to share my takeaways from  the books I read.

Cafe Travel: Memories Written on the Wall

I was thrilled to bits as my most anticipated day has finally arrived—Friday. It has been a very busy week for me. I was tied up with my job, working my fingers to the bone. I jump for joy not because I’ll finally have my perfect day off or Friday night out but because our cell group was scheduled on Friday night.

By the way, cell group is group of people close friends who meet once a week with the purpose of developing holistic growth centered on the Word of God. It consists of people (dabarkads) from different walks of life bounded together with one common goal “To love God and to love His people”.

Well, what a better way to spend our quality time together than in a place that offers sweet space, cozy ambiance and delectable affodable treats. Our feet brought us to Cafe Travel, the newest coffee shop in Taft just in front of De La Salle University (DLSU) that opened just a couple of months ago. Since we are all sick of eating in fast food chains and typical fancy coffee shops, for a change we all agreed to have our cell group in this soothing place to relax, unwind and enjoy each other’s company.

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It was all our first time to go to this place. We were expecting an ambiance of not anything less than travel hub, luggage, maps and pictures of beautiful places because of its name in which we think somehow was given a justice and satisfy our imaginations.

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The inside of the coffee shop is divided into cubicles that look like double deck lounge, just choose for yourself which space suits you well. This set-up provides privacy and homey experience to customers while bonding with friends, studying for exam or even an intimate time with your special someone; or if you feel like melancholic you can even go solo without feeling alone!

Each nook and deck has designated tables and pillows that you can use as a cushion to seat on or for your back. And don’t forget to remove your shoes before going inside the cubicles or climbing the stairs for that’s the golden rule here.

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Photo credit to Roxanne Ignacio

Everything looks perfect here if only the words hand written on the walls (by the customers) are inspiring quotes or bible verses that are heartening and uplifting.  A soothing sound of lovely and calming songs, Christian or inspiring songs with beautiful lyrics playing on the background is also a dazzling idea.

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Photo credit to Claire Endico

And after all is said and done. We wouldn’t dare miss the chance to try this coffee shop’s specialty. We ordered their best selling Travel Special Vanila Oreo 180php which for me tastes so divine but for my friends too sweet, Travel caramel 180php and Travel chocolate cookie 180php and my most favorite ham and cheese sandwich 120php.

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Photo credit to Shanell Rejesus

They offered variety of options of hot and cold coffee for the coffee lover out there. Frappe, beverages, smoothie, soft drink and tea are also available on the menu. And if you come hungry you can enjoy their mouthwatering sandwiches, pastries and cakes.

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Photo credit to Clarena Gamilla

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Photo credit to Adrian Claude Corpuz

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Photo credit to Althea Lou Agosto

We really enjoyed our time here! Well, in fact we were the last group of customers left before the coffee shop close at haft past eleven. The staff were so courteous not too shoo us away. The company of this wonderful people made it a night to remember talking non-stop, giggling, bullying and listening to each other’s stories.

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Photo op with the gang before leaving the place

The sweet, cozy space, very warm staff, delectable options of coffee, frappe, smoothies and pastries to satisfy your cravings will make you stay and come back for a visit and not to mention the free WiFi. So if you’re around the area, make sure to drop by. We will definitely recommend this to our friends since it just close to our service venue in PICC, it’s an ideal place for cell group and discipleship.

Cafe Travel is located at Archer’s Nook Dormitory – 2464 Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila Contact No.: 0915-991-8416. Also check out there facebook page Cafe.Travel

Phote credit to: http://www.zomato.com

Compromise

I was once asked by a friend if I will drink a glass of 100% pure distilled water. Without bothering to ask the logic behind her question I quickly answered ‘yes’. Then she rephrased her question and asked me again if I will then drink a glass of 99.9% pure distilled water with .01% poison. Without even thinking I promptly said NO (with surprised and annoyed expression).  I don’t think I got her point and I threw her my deadly glare (If only looks could kill). Even the most stupid person in the world knows the answer, who would dare to drink that water and die instantly. No matter how pure the water, it’s still contaminated.

Then she explained to me the sense behind that silly question. And truth be told that was the best lesson I have learned about compromise. Sometimes it’s okay to make ‘very little’ compromise because we always reason out that God will understand and it’s not too obvious for others to see. We let ourselves be 99% pure and 1% impure. But the truth will remain, you’re still contaminated. I am not suggesting that a Christian will not sin. The Bible clearly says, “If we say we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). But there is a big difference between the person who sins, is sorry for it, and doesn’t want to keep doing it, and the person who continually, willfully, habitually sins over and over again and then says, “It is okay. God will forgive me.”

Wrong is wrong. Sin is sin. Immoral is immoral. We don’t need to sugarcoat it to look beautiful. This time, I’ll make a stand. I’d rather offend the world than offend God. It’s been quite a while now that we’re offending God, it’s now time let the world get offended.

In court, if you killed someone you can’t reason out that you only killed once and you did thousands of good deeds to be acquitted. Doing good things doesn’t remove the fact that you killed someone. In the same way, compromising the standards of God is also the same as turning your back to Him. You can’t say you follow God’s command, yet compromise with a single sin. That’s the truth in the Bible I know. And the purpose of TRUTH in the Bible is not to offend but to save and love.

P.S

For once I will say this since the issue has already gone viral and this is the last time I will comment on the issue. I support Manny Pacquaio, regardless of what you say I’m entitled to my opinion. Once and for all, I we dont condemned the LGBT community, we condemned the act. What I we hate is the sin and not the sinner. It’s been quite a while now that we’re offending God, it’s now time let the world get offended.

Secrets to Long-lasting Friendship

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The memories of the good old day days came flooding back as I stepped in the gates of my Alma mater.  This place has witnessed blissful moments of my wonderful high school life, stories weaved together and are now written on the walls that I tried to relive in my mind thousand times, wishing to move back the hands of time bringing it back to life.

As I paced through the long, narrow pathway of a now old school, I noticed its very different now. I started to marvel the new image of my alma mater, trying to capture the changes that were made. Once there were fewer buildings and more trees but now there are more buildings and fewer trees. The rooms of different clubs and orgs were no longer on its original place-and the Newsroom that was once our home underwent a repair. It’s true indeed that change is the only thing constant in this world.

In this same small village school, I met my best friend. We were inseparable back then; savoring the moment of our youth, doing what we love to do and following our heart’s desire, dreaming of a brighter future where impossibility was just an unknown word. We’re partners in crime doing our crazy adventures. We’re each other’s no. 1 loyal supporter in our every endeavor. But as all good things must come to an end, the joy we had was only short lived when life confronted us of its harsh reality. We were forced to take our separate ways to follow our dreams. She wants to be a dentist, while I was firm to pursue my passion to be a soon Media practitioner. After taking one last glimpse, I left. For me, it was time to move on.

A decade had passed.  People just come and go, but once in a while, you meet someone who will be with you for life. She is a precious gem I’m glad I found.  A treasure I wouldn’t trade for anything or anyone. We stand the test of time, were miles apart but our friendship remains. Let me share the secret to long lasting friendship:

1. Allow your friend to explore the world

As you grow older you realized how small place you occupy in this world. Allow each other to discover endless possibilities and be expose in a bigger and tougher world outside the comfortable world you created. Don’t put your friend in a box for your own comfort and liking. Be happy for what ever path your friend has chosen.

2. Help each other to reach your fullest potential

Be joyful as your friend achieve great milestone. Continuously push your friend to his/her next level. Don’t let your friend live a life of a mediocrity. But you will constantly remind each other of the potential that needs to be awaken inside of you. Your friend’s success is also your success.

3. Understand that you can’t always be together

Your friend will not always be with you, there will come a time that friends move away because of family decision, job opportunities, school matter, and other reasons but that does not mean the friendship has to end. Different communication platforms were made to keep relationship open. This can still make the friendship meaningful and long lasting. And its not just about the quantity of time you spend together but more of the quality.

4. Be dependable and trustworthy

Everyone of us need a reliable friend in whom we can confide in, trust, and share some of the most personal details and needs of our lives. Be someone your friend can rely on, someone who will always be there in whatever season of life. Be the friend that you want to have.

5. Give each other ‘me time’

We all need our space from time to time. We need ‘me time’ to think and to examine one’s life. The time spent away from one another can help you to appreciate your friendship and the time you spend with one another. Space is important so you won’t get and over familiar with each other’s presence to the point that you take each other for granted.

6. Acknowledge that no relationship is perfect

If you want to have long lasting friendships be flexible and forgiving. Understand that no person or relationship is perfect. There will be times that you will feel disappointed because of unmet expectation, days that you feel like your friend is not doing the same effort as you do. It’s only part of your friendship journey. Its only give and take, forgive and forget.

7. Respect each other’s  differences

There’s beauty in diversity. My best friend is my complete opposite, we’re like water and oil, black and white, east and west but it doesn’t mean we don’t get along well. In fact, we compliment each other and our difference keep us together.

8. Make time for each other

Strive to be in your friend’s special moments for it only happen once  a year. Always be willing to make small sacrifices in your schedule. These small sacrifices help cement a stronger foundation in your friendship.

Flowers and Chocolates

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Millions of fresh, fragrant flowers bloom to give smile on a girl’s face this season. Tons of bitter, sweet chocolates that can surely melt a woman’s heart were made to capture her love. To that purpose flowers and chocolates were made.

It’s true indeed that every girl loves flower and chocolates. Well, who doesn’t want a box of chocolate and bouquet of flower that come from a man’s heart? It’s every girl’s fantasy since they were little and woman’s dream come true when they’re old–to receive a thoughtful gift from the man they love or perhaps from someone they like. I will only be fooling myself if I say I don’t. But I’ve been asking myself this question ‘Is it okay to receive fancy gifts from the man who doesn’t stand a chance in your heart?’

That question started to linger in my mind, when one of my guy friends asked me for my address because he wants to send gift for me in Valentines’ Day which I nicely declined.

We’ve been friends for quite some time now. We always talk every night because I teach him business English relevant to his job and promotion. From just a stranger our knowledge towards each other grew deeper and our relationship as friends grew stronger with each passing day. He is totally aware of my standard when it comes to love and relationships. He fully understands the boundary I created to guard my heart and likewise I guard his heart.

Though I know my refusal may disappoint him, I stood on my ground and say no. Though the intention is pure as per him I don’t want to take advantage of his kindness and generous offer. I can’t offer him anything than friendship. People may think differently but I just don’t want to mislead him into something that will never happen in the future. And by the end of our conversation, I persuaded him to give it to the woman who already owns his heart which I believed made him came back to his senses.  I believe that those flowers and chocolates had served its purpose.

P.S

Hey! Just to set your expectation, ‘most’ of my posts will be all about love for the whole month of Feb-ibig. It’s just the middle of February. Lets continue to enjoy the love month! Share the joy, spread the love ❤