Posted in Determination, Inspirational, Perseverance

Beautiful Lessons from a Bar Flunker

GUEST POST BY ANGIE OCCENO-LIBARDO

Angie Occeno-Libardo
Angie Occeno-Libardo

Setbacks come naturally to life, perhaps second to breathing. The unfortunates will even get a shrill experience of the “Murphy’s Law,” that when things go bad it will just be.

Dazed in amazement over the intensity of some issues, one can only shake his head and wonder. Inaccurate the prospects of them seeping into our systems, struggles can either pierce our whole being or embolden us to create that better person in us.

I guess when it comes to experiencing and managing failures I have become an authority.

I used to be getting A’s from elementary to college. Government exams were not even too difficult to pass. I have not felt any tinge of inadequacy because I seemed to do well each time I took the test.

But when I went to College of Law things changed for me. Gone are the days when I would be getting A’s. My grades were insanely bad.

My professors wondered why I even enrolled in the law school when I seemed to lack the ability to even survive first year law. But as you can see, I still finished the course but the final test to whether or not the concepts were retained and mastered, the Bar exams had to be passed.

I thought I knew the basics but the examiners thought otherwise so I failed. The first time I took it and failed was not as painful as I did the second time because it felt like I did not learn anything at all.

The whole experience cut my heart and my mind was gripped with all disparaging words about myself like, “So you are smart? So I thought.” “Your luster has died and you are no good.”

What could be worse than thinking that those people that I hurt in the past were just so jubilant about my failures. Magnified in my thoughts are their sneers and insults.

My self- esteem plummeted. But how did I surmount my pitiful condition and started hoping and desiring again to take the Bar exams?

Let me share to you the things that I forced myself to do in order to put my hopeful prospects back.

Acknowledge the need to be strengthened.

When adversities befall us we tend to live a hermit life. We shy away from people even to trusted friends for fear that we would be ridiculed.

Doing this however will cost us our own happiness and will further lead us to despair.

Go out and look for your trusted friends. Share to them what you feel and honestly ask for their prayers.

I did just that, the comfort that I got after was exhilarating.

Reconcile with God.

Right after I failed the exams, I asked the Lord so many questions. Like I blamed Him for not honoring my prayers or even rewarding me for my efforts, I would reason in my head, that I deserved to pass because I worked very hard for it.

I invested so many sleepless nights for it, I knew I studied very hard too; all to no avail. I cried alone, grieving over God’s decision.

Even a firm believer like me despaired but who am I to question the Lord?

He knows the future! Jesus, who began the good work in us will be faithful to complete it. He will send people either to teach us or propel us to minister on God’s unfailing love, similar to what He did to me. God is sovereign.

He cannot be dictated upon. Being the creator that He is, He knows our very being and powerfully discerns what is best for us; so when what we prayed for remained unanswered, be still and ask for divine understanding.

We might not immediately understand why bad things happen to us, we need to trust in the Lord because He is too good to be unkind.

The safest place to be in when situations become unreasonable is in God’s arms.

Restore your self-worth.

No one has the right to belittle you. It can only be so if you yourself tolerated others to look down on you.

However, the best assurance that we can hold on to is the truth about God’s unconditional love, that whatever and however we become, He will take us to Himself unconditionally.

Remember the cross. Jesus died for your sins and mine. He even became sin himself to offer to us His greatest sacrifice, His own life for our salvation.

Aren’t we so special to God? Acknowledging who Jesus is and the sacrifices that He endured will revive our hearts’ desires and brighten our chances for better opportunities, that regardless of the hurtful remarks people say about us, it is definitely not the same with how Jesus thought of us.

The abundance of His loving kindness will be ours to have and enjoy if only we would also take Him in our lives. Be confident in the Lord because He is a father that restores.

While failures are admittedly part of our lives, we can’t do anything much but pray for God’s leading. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength and intelligently learn from those painful experiences.

Will I still take the bar exams again? Hmmm… Why not?

NOTE: This article was first published on the author’s blog “Echoes of the Heart” on 27 March 2015.

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Posted in Each New Day, From Worry To Glory, Lessons Learned from Sickness

One Fine Day

Lessons Learned from My Sickness Part 26: One Fine Day

Castlepoint Lighthouse at Wairarapa NZ
One fine day with God at Castlepoint Lighthouse, Wairarapa NZ. Photo by Jade Mark Jarbadan

How do you define a fine day? Perhaps to many of us, a fine day is a day that is devoid of any problems, burdens or cares.

Everything you encountered provides you joy, blessings, entertainment, and gives you a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment. That’s why people who encountered such kind of day blurts with excitement, “You have made my day!”

One of the most common greetings I heard from people who came to visit me was, “How’s your day?”

I’m grateful that they are so concerned about my situation and that they would like to know whether I still find joy, meaning, hope and peace in that particular day.

My ready answer to that is of course, “I have a fine day! Or, “My day is fine!” This is because I do not look at the negative circumstances surrounding me on a particular day in order to make my judgment, but I focus on God’s goodness and grace which enables me to appreciate the new day that God gave me.

The fact that I still woke up to a new day is already a great reason for me to say that my day is fine!

Proverbs 11: 27 says, “He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.”

In other words, we will be able to define our day as a fine day by looking at all the positive things that God gave us and learn to celebrate that day by affirming God’s goodness and faithfulness.

But if we focus our attention to all the negative, hard, evil aspects of the day then that’s how we will also perceive our day – negative, hard and evil.

Ever since I discovered this verse, I learned to focus on searching the good things that God prepared for me on that particular day.

For what you seek, you will find! Have a fine day everyone!

Posted on FB: 18 March 2015 – 8:41 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces is the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He and wife, Martha have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he has lung cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny writes his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness”.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles. Please pray for Pastor Ronny’s healing.

Posted in Forgiveness, Lessons Learned from Sickness

Scars of Forgiveness

Lessons Learned from My Sickness Part 25: Scars

Jesus Christ at the cross

I came across this fascinating theological riddle many years back, “What man-made thing is now in heaven”?

And the answer is – the SCARS in Jesus’ hands, feet and side.

Those bodily scars were created by nails and the centurion’s spear during Christ’s crucifixion.

Those marks were sought by Thomas as proof of Christ ‘s resurrection (John 20:25 – “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”).

Thereupon, when Christ saw him a week later, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” And Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)

I remembered this riddle fairly recently when I took a bath and saw the scar at my side. It was the scar that resulted from a CTT tube insertion administered to drain fluids from my lungs.

When I looked at that scar, I was reminded of its significance. Without such wound, the doctor couldn’t have performed the pleurodesis procedure and I couldn’t have returned to my normal breathing pattern.

That wound has been a step towards my healing. That wound is necessary for me to be treated.

The scar resulting from that wound serves as proof that we have exhausted all means to treat my bodily problem.

Reflecting on this theologically, I am reminded of my own sinfulness, and of my deep gratitude to God for giving us his son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.

In Isaiah 53: 5 it says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and BY HIS WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED.

Without the scars in Jesus body, we are still on our way to perdition. But thanks be to God, we were forgiven!

Posted on FB: 17 March 2015 – 1:37 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces is the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He and wife, Martha have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he has lung cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny writes his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness”.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles. Please pray for Pastor Ronny’s healing.

Posted in From Worry To Glory, Lessons Learned from Sickness, Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey

Lessons Learned from My Sickness Part 24: Trust and Obey

trust and obey
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

This is the title of one of the most popular and timeless hymns sang by Christians the world over.

How many people were brought to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because of this hymn?

How many lives were changed for the better because of the enlightening and inspiring message of the song?

We really can’t tell. But I’m sure many people were able to gain favorable results in their lives by adhering to the challenges the song poses.

During my long hospital confinement, I was greatly helped by the encouragement I received from this hymn. When I faced uncertainties and lingering doubts, I just told myself, “Just trust and obey”.

Instead of spending time in worrying, instead of asking too many questions, instead of formulating my own theories and explanations, I just told myself, “Just trust and obey”.

Just trust that God knows what’s best for us. Just trust that he is sovereign, his power knows no bounds, and he will work miraculously through people that he touched.

That he can work through the doctors, surgeons, nurses, laboratory personnel, etc. That his power can be manifested through medications and treatments administered to our physical body.

But more importantly, I trust that God listened to the sincere prayers of the faithful who continue to humbly ask for his intercession and compassion.

As a result, I discovered that when I fully trust God in all these things, I can obey everything that the doctors prescribed for my own good.

I obeyed the dietary requirements, I obeyed the prescribed rest and exercise schedule. I obeyed the sanitary procedures like wearing masks even though it’s inconvenient at times.

Indeed, to trust and obey are two very powerful virtues that can strengthen our relationship with the Lord, and can also help us in facing our practical problems.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Posted on FB: 16 March 2015 – 2:41 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces is the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He and wife, Martha have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he has lung cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny writes his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness”.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles. Please pray for Pastor Ronny’s healing.

PHOTO CREDIT: Karl Hipolito. Used with permission. Thank you.

Posted in Lessons Learned from Sickness, Mother's Love and Wisdom

A Mother’s Love and Wisdom

Lessons Learned from My Sickness Part 23: A Mother’s Love and Wisdom

Mother's Wisdom and Love
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

My 81-year-old mother came to visit me today (Saturday, March 14, 2015). I would like to dedicate this lesson to her, by recalling her text message the day she knew about my sickness.

She said, “Noy, we should be glad that this trial has visited our family and you were chosen to be its bearer. For it means that we were made partakers of this suffering. This trial will enable us to be stronger in our faith and we will be more closer to each other and with the Lord”.

She then sang a battle hymn to inspire and to encourage me to face my sickness.

I am really thankful to God for giving me a very prayerful, full of godly wisdom, and faithful mother.

You see, she was also in great pain while relaying those words to me. She suffered a leg fracture rendering her immobile since the month of November last year.

In fact, when she came to visit me today, she was physically carried by my brother in a wheelchair.

But that inconvenience did’nt prevent her from coming over just to show me her love and to express her affection.

I am more inspired to face the challenges posed by my sickness because I am being supported by the prayers of my mother.

Posted on FB: 14 March 2015 – 4:06 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces is the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He and wife, Martha have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he has lung cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny writes his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness”.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles. Please pray for Pastor Ronny’s healing.

Posted in God's Thoughts and Ways, Lessons Learned from Sickness

Unlikely Answers

Lessons Learned from My Sickness Part 22: Unlikely Answers

God Answers Prayers
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

Isn’t it true that we all wanted our prayers to be answered?

And isn’t it true that the answers we expected are the answers that we already framed in our minds?

In other words, when we pray for a ganta of rice, we also expect to receive a ganta of rice – not just 2 cupfuls.

Most often, we wanted God to follow what we already formulated in our thoughts.

But God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts, not our thoughts. I affirmed this truth in my sickness.

I discovered that God was in the business of giving me something which I haven’t asked, but something which was for my own good.

An article I’ve read articulated this truth. It says,

I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn to obey.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power and the praise of men;
I was given weakness to sense my need of God.
I asked for all things that i might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for, but everything I hoped for;
In spite of myself, my prayers were answered –
I am among all men most richly blessed!

Posted on FB: 13 March 2015 – 2:52 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces is the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He and wife, Martha have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he has lung cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny writes his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness”.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles. Please pray for Pastor Ronny’s healing.

Posted in God Knows Best, Lessons Learned from Sickness

God Knows Best 2

Lessons Learned from My Sickness – Part 21: God Knows Best 2

God Knows Best
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

As promised, here are the remaining stanzas of the poem which greatly inspired me, and gave me a positive outlook as I face the challenge of my sickness:

For growing trees are strengthened
When they withstand the storm,
And the sharp cut of a chisel
Gives the marble grace and form.

God never hurts us needlessly,
And he never wastes our pain
For every loss he send to us
Is followed by rich gain.

And when we count our blessings
That God so freely sent
We will find no cause for murmuring
And no time to lament.

For our Father loves his children
And to him all things are plain,
So he never sends us pleasures
When the soul’s deep need is pain.

So whenever we are troubled
And when everything goes wrong,
It is just God working in us
To make our spirits strong!

Posted on FB: 12 March 2015 – 6:47 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces is the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He and wife, Martha have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he has lung cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny writes his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness”.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles. Please pray for Pastor Ronny’s healing.

PHOTO CREDIT: House Sparrows by Jose Telesforo Limbaga. Used with permission. The photo has been resized to fit website requirement.