Monday, June 30, 2008

The Challenge of a Friend

by Charles Ringma

The rhythm of the inner life is the movement from where we are, with our fears, needs and busyness, to the place of quietness, unburdening and renewal. And from this place of transformation we can begin to move to re-engage our world with new-found hope and courage.

While the practice of this rhythm is a highly personal and individual affair, we are not suggesting that others cannot assist us in this journey. While we need to take responsibility for our own spiritual development and for our own lives, this does not mean that we need to be without companions on the road. Henri Nouwen admits: I now realise that I need regular contact with a friend who keeps me close to Jesus and continues to call me to faithfulness.

Such a friend cannot do the journey for us. Such a friend cannot provide ready-made answers. Such a friend cannot take away the struggle and cannot take away the pain and difficulty.

There is a road which we alone must walk. Decisions that we must make. Actions that we much perform. Pain that we must bear. Transformation that we must experience. Peace that we must imbibe. But a friend who journeys with us can challenge us to faithfulness and authenticity. Such a friend can encourage us to continue to make the hard decisions. The challenge such a friend offers is the challenge to continue to choose life.

My reflection:

I would not have reached this far in my walk with God had it not been for the people who challenged me to faithfulness...and fruitfulness.

For most of us, we live our lives based on a narrow perspective, travel through a more familiar path, and make use of our resources for self-gratification. But God, in His ever loving and gracious ways, constantly brings friends who can help us see life differently and lead us closer to Him.

I am grateful that many years ago, God brought a friend into my life. Even though my dear friend Marita is fourteen years older than I, she is always fun to be with. And in the course of our friendship, I realize that we all need someone who has traveled the world ahead of us: a guiding light.

During my most critical (and difficult) situations, the Lord used M to challenge my faith, my dreams, and especially my heart. She would ask me penetrating questions that made me stay up all night thinking about my life and groping for answers. She would urge me to seek Christ and His heart for me. And many times, she would correct me and remind me God's faithful ways.

My friend invested so much in me. She helped me realize a lot of things, challenged me to build my core values, labored with me so I know how to conduct myself well, and inspired me to live my life for God and for others.

Reflecting on what the author of the article has written, I realize, too, that while my friend continues to offer help in times of need, she cannot decide for me. She can only present me options, help me see things from a different point of view, but ultimately it's I who will make those hard decisions...and eventually face the consequences.

So I pray that God will continue to bring faithful friends into my life as He patiently molds me to be a guiding light to others as well. I pray that I will always learn to appreciate the love and blessings that flow through the pathway of friendships. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Creating Space

Another reflection from Charles Ringma on Disengagement.

"Giving time for solutions to be found."

Helpers sometimes can be too anxious to help. Counselors sometimes can be too quick in problem-solving. And advice-givers are frequently giving answers when the questions have not been properly identified. Moreover, religious people are often only too willing to share their experiences of divine help with others irrespective of whether the listener has similar concerns or needs.

We therefore need be so careful that we do not push people toward solutions. Solutions need to be found. They cannot be dished out. Henri Nouwen observes, "We cannot force anyone to such a personal and intimate change of heart, but we can offer the space where such change can take place."

Creating such a space involves giving people time as well as support and encouragement. It allows people to identify their questions, experience their pain, reveal their anger and expose their dashed expectations. It does not provide neat answers, but journeys with the person at their pace in their quest for answer and renewal.

This does not mean that no direct help is given and everything is left to the person seeking help. It means that we offer space, support and help as it is requested by those with whom we are working.

This speaks so much of my situation today. I just don't know what to do anymore... and probably... just probably..."creating space" is the way for me to find His solutions to my situation. It will give me time to unload my burdens to Christ and to pour out my heart to Him. It will allow me to hear from Him and experience His comfort in my life, too.

While the consequence of being separate is unbearable, but I think I will appreciate and understand better what Paul wrote Philemon on Onesimus, "Perhaps the reason he was separated from for a little while was that you might have him back for good..." I don't really know...I just have to keep on praying...

Prayer is the key to finding the answers...for God, by His grace and mercy, will reveal to us His purpose and plans why He allows us to go through complex and strenuous encounters.

And so, I pray that God will sustain me and give me strength to overcome all necessary circumstances to bring out the best in me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Solitude in Friendship

I'd like to share one of Charles Ringma's writings on Disengagement.
Romans 13:9

True friendship is not only built on the busy round of continually doing things for each other. Such seemingly good activity may in fact exhaust the relationship. The cycle of giving because we have first received can come a legalistic form of reciprocity.

Nor is true friendship built on the busy round of much-talking and constant self-disclosure. The attempt to build friendship in this way may be more a reflection of insecurity than of trust.

The road to friendship is somewhat different. While it certainly involves giving and receiving and open sharing, it also involves a respect for boundaries.

Henri Nouwen notes that intimate relationships which do not create free space for the other can become suffocating relationships. He therefore acknowledges, 'I feel an increasing desire to be silent with my friends. Not every event has to be told, not every idea has to be exchanged'.

It is in the silence as much as in the conversations that friendship can be built. Friendship should incorporate solitude as much as sharing and common activity. Friendship should always exist in what we do for each other. It is also what we are for each other, even when we are not doing anything.

I don't think I will be able to fully write my reflections on this.. but I'll try.

Today I was able to talk with my friend, David. And this wonderful gentleman I've known for years gave me the most amazing advice I have been searching and seeking for the past two (2) weeks of my challenging life. He said, "We often think of what's not only better but what's best for others...especially for our dearest friends, the people we love most...but we have to understand that it takes time for people to realize that. Oftentimes it takes a lot of prayer and patience for them to see what we saw, for them to listen to what we're trying to say, for them to fully grasp our good intentions and deep concern." He added, "You just have to trust the Lord...that He will stir their hearts up and find wisdom in everything that you're saying. So let people learn even if it will hurt you see them failing. For as long as you have done your part, the best possible thing you could do for your friends, you've been a friend them. "

And just like what Charles said regarding silence, maybe... just maybe, our silence can speak louder and bring wisdom to others. Thus, breaking walls that separate us and build a firm foundation that can stand against storms and time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Continue to Grow Stronger

Allow me to share my simple reflection on this verse which I was compelled to impart yesterday to those people I have been praying for starting this year: -

"They will continue to grow stronger.." Psalm 84:7 nlt

In my years of ministry, especially here in Makati, there are just few who have made it to the inmost part of my heart. It's not that the others have not...maybe they have not arrived yet, but there are just these few wonderful-Godly-people who did and that I am so blessed seeing them growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has greatly blessed my partnership with other Christians but with these few, I just know, in my heart and spirit, that there are many unconceivable, indescribable, beautiful projects God has prepared for all of us to do and triumph--together.

Albert. Sasah. Misty. Roche. Jun. Maya. Pia. Dhet.

As much as I want to write a description of and for each one, and I know they deserve it, but for now I would like to describe them in a collective manner. In the course of time and in my writings, I will share my experiences with them in such a way that it will bless you and encourage you to follow the path of Christ and give everything you have for others to know and love Him more.

I always believe that I have an eye for a star. I am no talent manager but I just know...and that's what leaders must possess, an eye to see a potential...and eye to see what the person could become, in light with the power and authority God has placed over your shoulders for the expansion and extension of His kingdom. And I humbly thank the Lord for such privilege and gift.

Now let me share with you my heart for the people I learned to love. These God-sent brothers and sisters are so different in characters and ways. They came from different family backgrounds, environment, cultures and experiences...and that I can say, it makes them delightfully special. These men and women are packed with great talents and gifts that God has bestowed on them, though some are yet to be discovered, and you will know right at the moment you see them. I have not encountered such remarkable people who are not only intellectually gifted but also physically, emotionally, socially, and above all spiritually exceptional. What attracts me most to these rather beautiful people is there heart for Jesus. You will be blessed by their passion and purity. Their desires and devotions. Their melodies and music. Their secrets and stories. Their dreams and determination to achieve them. And being with them for years, especially for the last couple of years, makes me love them even more.

I have not cried so much in my life until I met these people. I cried because I desire to see them mature in their relationship with God, as much as I desire to grow on my own. I cried because I know they are meant to do something great beyond their imagination. I cried because everyday of my life I want them to learn to love the Lord with everything they have and to die to themselves and live for Christ. I cried because I yearn to see their lives becoming more fruitful thus having their own people to disciple and raise up as they serve the Lord faithfully. I long to see them "become". And I so pray that in this lifetime, I will get to see them live their lives well and having great influence in the lives of others.

I am often well-spoken of by them as a blessing and a channel of God's strength and wisdom in their lives. But hardly they know that they are my source of strength. My source of joy. And in so many ways, they have become Jesus to me. They are God's reflection of love and hope . And as often as I would tell them, "they are the fruits of His faithfulness."

And so I am sharing this verse that God had once again encouraged me regarding these people's faith-journey, in the midst of my aspirations and dreams (and yes at times, frustrations and desperations), He assured me that..."they will continue to grow stronger." And we all know that the grace and strength will come from the very Person that brought us together -- Jesus Christ. Seeing us becoming and doing things--together--will bring joy into the heart of the Lord...and His joy will be our strength.

Surely He is faithful. Truly His Words bring life. I have found hope and assurance in that single line as I continue to commit my life to Albert, Sasah, Misty, Roche, Jun, Maya, Pia and Dhet. God will undoubtedly accomplish His fantastic plan in and through our lives. I am confident that my labors and prayer of love and faith will continue to bear fruits...much more fruits.

By His grace, our individual strength will make each and everyone stronger as we walk toward the life God has set for us. And yes, we will all grow stronger because there is a world out there that needs to know Jesus... there is a world out there that needs to be redeemed.. there are workplaces that need to be transformed...there are lives that need to be changed...there are people in our lives who need to be inspired and be brought back not only to the Source of life but to Life Himself.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Being part of a Community

Life is best shared with people you love... especially in a special community of faith. And today, allow me to share with you something I took time reflecting on...

May this help you realize and value the importance of your community...or seek one, if you don't have yet.


By Charles Ringma

We cannot be solitary if we are to be growing people. We need others on the pathway of our personal development.

But networks, or community, are not simply important in our personal formation; they are also the way in which we can contextualize and express our service.

Take counseling, for example. Enjoying a meal in a counselor’s home not only helps us contextualize the counselor within her or his family, but also means the person is welcomed as a guest within the family as a small community. Welcoming a person in this way can be as much a source of encouragement as the actual counseling. Sadly, we have disembodied much of the ministry of counseling and relegated it to sterile and impersonal environments.

This model can be extended in many ways. Small communities of care where those helping and those being served share life together may well be a more humane place of facilitate growth than in our more traditional institutional models. Henri Nouwen agrues for a holistic approach. He notes that ‘we should not only live in community, but also minister in community’.

Such a community based on mutuality and common participation can take on many forms. There is no one model for community. But if we allow Nouwen’s suggestion, then we will attempt to bring together that place where we are nurtured and the place of service. In other words, we will not only serve others with our particular helping skills, but we welcome them into our lives.



Being part of small communities truly helped me exercise service. The more you get involved in the lives of others, the more you get to become like Christ... and the more you desire to know and to have in you His heart for them.

I have been greatly moved and changed by my experiences in communities...most especially in the Christian communities. I learned how to serve selflessly, how to love unconditionally, how to give without expecting anything return, to trust faithfully, to walk humbly with God.

There I discovered (and still am discovering) the many gifts and talents God has given me. There I learned to use them not for my own self-exaltation but for the glory of the One who gave me all.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


June 3. That's the day I was born.

A couple of days ago, I celebrated my 27th birthday with my family in Bacolod. In a couple of days, I will be celebrating (again) my birthday with my THY Marketplace family here in Manila.

I am so blessed with what the Lord is doing in and through my life especially with the people that He brings into my life… and I'd like to share with you some of the messages that my TM Family wrote me and my response to them.

May you be blessed and inspired, too.

From Albert:

Happy birthday!

As you delight yourself in the Lord, may He give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

May the Lord will always strengthen you with His righteous right hand. Words are not enough to express the heartfelt gratitude I have in my heart.

Thank you Lord for blessing me with such a lovely and wonderful mentor and ate!!!

Blessings, mercy and peace be yours in abundance. Happy birthday my Pauline

(I am your Timothy!) :-)

From Miste:

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner

strength through his Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 3:16

This is my special prayer for you.. J Continue to be faithful to the purposes God has for your life..( whatever it takes! )

As the bible says, He will strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him…

From Roche:

As you celebrate another year of God's faithfulness in your life, I pray that may you continue to live your life according to His perfect will & purpose for you.

We thank the Lord for your life and for your passion in sharing HIS love to other people

including us in THY Marketplace Family. Thank you for imparting your life with us. Thank you for being a friend, a mentor, a teacher, a sister, an AGL (for your AG) and for just being JAJA for us.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon you and establish the work of your hands.

God will indeed preserve your way and make all things work together for your good.

Thanks for everything. I love you Maninay!!!

From Shai:

I thank the Lord for outpouring in your heart such a great passion to serve Him and to inspire others to live for Christ! Your very life is a great seed being planted in the marketplace. And from that, God promises a multiplied harvest!

As we embrace the year of conquest, I pray that you will continue to experience His

Wisdom and awesome power. He will certainly reward the desires of your heart!

From Greg:

May the Lord give you a fresh supply of strength to do your tasks, anoint your works, and bless your plans, so that your accomplishments will glorify God.

From Jun:

I pray that you be filled not only with abundant blessings but the desire to be used by Him in ways that are unknown to men. Whew! That would be something.

May you always here His voice so you can lead as He leads.

From Dhet:

Maligayang araw mo ngayon Ninang! Pag-ibig ng AMA sa kalangitan patuloy nawang maranasan. Buong buhay, kamti’y biyayang walang hanggan. Buhay mong binabahagi sa iba’y palawiging tunay. Pagbati at panalangin sa iyo ay alay. Mabuhay ka! Kapatid at Ina kong turing.

From Sasah:

Everything I want to tell you, you already know... But as we’ve learned, it always makes a difference to say the words..

You’ve been a great influence in my life, as a mentor, a sister and a dear dear friend. Thank you so so much!

And I thank the Lord for giving me you, yup, I’m claiming it, you’re mine (mine mine mine! Hehe joke lang, I’m willing to share naman.. =P), and as you can read from the other messages, others are claiming you in their lives as well, in one form or another, hehe! As Inay, Maninay, Manang at aba, may Pauline pa! Pressure ba?

Your life really is an influence to many, and more to come! A living testimony… My prayer is that God will give you the grace, much needed grace, to really live in total abandon to His will and His ways!

Like I said, I’m with you in this battle, and I will try my best to stand alongside to fight

with you and to fight for you!

God the dream maker is a dream giver, so continue dreaming big dreams and be amazed as God answers your prayers one by one!

Love you much! I’m excited at what God is doing in your life.. More adventures! More lives! More happy tears! And just more of Jesus!


From Tita Sandy:

Life like yours requires much reflection as with special gifts that come from God to make sure it is given to the purpose for which it has been designed for. A blessed time of listening to God. Will be with you in prayers. Much love anak.


My beloved THY Marketplace Family:

You go before me and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5 NLT

I couldn't think of a better way of saying thank you for all the love messages and the words of blessings you declared upon my life and showered me with as I celebrated (and still am celebrating) the Year of the Lord's Favor. Forgive me for responding late to all your heart-felt greetings as I have just read them all. I was in Bacolod for my self-declared-long-weekend to be with my family and just came back yesterday.

I was blessed by your messages and prayers. You made my joy complete. Please allow me share a piece of my heart with you in return.

I am deeply grateful to our God Who beautiful interwoven our lives in unexpected-faith-challenging ways. Your desire and love for Christ brought so many changes in my life. Being with you for the past six (6) years of my life (that includes cpar days) taught me how to love His Word more and helped me grow in His knowledge and grace. Serving the Lord with you as my act of worship, shaped my heart and moved my hands to reach out to those who were (and still are) seeking for direction and purpose that can only be found in Him. Serving you with much love prepared me for a much greater call. Having you in my life changed me -- I learned (and yes, still learning) to become more loving, more forgiving, more patient (big time), more prayerful, more faithful... and a lot MORE! Through you, God taught me how to dream big...and bigger!

There is no other way in which a man can experience life in its fullest measure apart from living in and for Christ. And so I pray that in our generation, in this lifetime, the love of Jesus in us and our love for Him will be far more demonstrated in the way we life our lives, in our words, in our intentions, and in our actions. Let us give our all (and our best) to the One who gave His best for us. And may we all come to that point of decision to truly "love the Lord our God with our all (heart, soul and strength). Deu. 6:5" Your God-designed life begins when you make that steps of faith to trust and obediently follow Christ. May you become more familiar with His voice as He leads you into an extraordinary faith-journey... and bear fruits that will last forever.

Let me to share with you a nugget of what I've reflected on today: -

Unless we have totally withdrawn from the world, our life will be a window for other people. People can see what we are about. And it should hardly come as a suprise that others can usually see quiet clearly what our values are. In this sense we do not live only for ourselves. For even if we never do anything for another person, we do something to other people even when we don't realise it. Henri Nouwen observes that '[one person's] faithfulness [is another person's] hope'.

Again, thank you for being a uniquely wonderful family to me. I couldn't imagine life without you. And until Jesus comes, we will continue to passionately pursue our purpose and dreams, to love one another, to serve one another, to work together, to obediently respond to His call..and to selflessly give our lives to that none will perish.

His love is indeed life to me....and I owe you, my THY Marketplace Family, a huge debt of love (Romans 13:8).

And if you ask me what's my prayer request for my birthday.....................He is the desire of my heart.

So let us continuously follow Solomon's wise advice, "Honor and enjoy your Creator while you're still young, Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, Before your vision dims and the world blurs, And the winter years keep you close to the fire." (Ecclesiastes 12:1-2 The Message, emphasis mine)

Celebrating Life [Jesus] with you,