Know God, know Mercy

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:5a)

Punishment. Condemnation. Death. These should be our judgment, stained by sin as we all are. But instead of throwing us into the dump, God threw Himself at us: He discarded His robe of glory, left heaven, and made His way among us. He even took our likeness and became man!

So never should we think that we are beyond rescue. We may have fallen into sin—we may even be drowning in sin—but we must know that ours is a God whose mercy endures forever. Yes, we will have to face the consequences of our sins, but we will never have to face rejection from God. He always accepts those whose hearts are repentant and whose spirits are contrite. So don’t hesitate. Just come.

Know God, know Courage

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

There is courage in the defiant shouts of simple men decrying the invasion of foreign colonizers. There is courage in their engagement in combats and battles, with only their tabaks. There is courage in their deaths, willingly faced for the freedom of our land. That is why we remember these heroes this month.

But we also acknowledge those unlikely heroes we meet every day, for there also is courage in the stillness. Courageous is he who is being battered and pounded by the storms of life, but still keeps his ground, still stands up. Courageous is he who does not know how to face tomorrow, but nevertheless smiles and inspires others. Courageous is he who comes at the end of himself and realizes things are no longer in his hands and there, there surrenders everything to God.

Some circumstances in life would require a courage that dares. In others, a courage that persists. In either case, we know that God is with us. This is our ultimate courage.

The ‘new’ begins

Vision Casting 2017

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“God will dwarf everything He has done with what He will do in this season of new beginnings.”

That has been the declaration of Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Church Worldwide President and Spiritual Director Bishop Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva since JIL’s 38th anniversary celebration last October 2016. And he is right, because God has already started doing just that.

Last January 14, over 8,000 JIL pastors, leaders and workers who attended the Vision Casting in Camp Praise Valley, Norzagaray, Bulacan experienced the palpable presence of the Living God. Both lively and heart-felt songs were offered unto God, bringing the delegates jumping to their feet and, even, down on their knees.

“Pagpasok ko pa lang po dito sa Camp Praise Valley, damang-dama ko na ang presence ng Lord (Even upon entering Camp Praise Valley, I have already felt the presence of the Lord),” Ptr. Jovi Villanueva-Binalla, CYN Director and International Operations and Youth Affairs Director General said.

Camp Praise Valley, which is one of the “golden places” of JIL Church’s formative years according to Bro. Eddie, will once again be opened for the training of faithful and committed pastors and leaders of JIL Church. Now renovated and given a modern look, Bro. Eddie envisions it to be also an international training center, where leaders from all over the globe could be equipped and empowered.

In conjunction with that, the Administration Building, Camp Praise Valley’s very first building, was dedicated that day. The building was named after Engr. Jun Manzano, a respected and trailblazer structural engineer who “served JIL significantly… without fanfare,” Bro. Eddie said.

The event was also peppered with testimonies of JIL pastors and leaders like Rev. Alex Garcia, Rev. Virgie Hernandez, and Sis. Menchie Tobias, to name a few.

With all the wonderful things God has done during the Vision Casting, Sis. Dory Villanueva, JIL Church’s Vice President, admonished the delegates, “The vision has to be kept in prayer.”

Because as God is indeed creating a new wave of His blessings and anointing for the JIL Church, so must JIL people remain steadfast in Him.

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

Greetings of joy to all Filipinos and all Philippine-loving people!

With all the bright lanterns, colorful decorations, and cheerful carols filling the streets, it is undeniable that we are in that season when hearts are warm even though the air is cool.

Christmas. That time of the year when we seem to be most generous–not just in giving gifts but, also, in giving a smile, a pat, or a hand. And rightly so, because Christmas, in its very essence, is a story of giving:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, NKJV)

Take note that God gave not just any son, but His only Son, His most beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who, in turn, also gave:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, NKJV)

God gave His Son, the Son gave His life, for all of humankind to be rescued from the pit of death we ourselves dug. What a gift it is: freely given but expensively bought! Dare we waste it?

Therefore, this Christmas, more than any material gift we could buy from stores, let us not forget to share the gift we received from God. Let us tell that boy on the street, that woman who weeps, and that man who drinks his problems away that they need not beg or weep or drink, because God so loves them to the point of giving His Son for them.

But aside from sharing God’s gift to others, let us also not forget to give to God: our thanksgiving and praise, love and devotion, even our very life. For, doesn’t His lavish gift deserve such a lavish response? Aren’t our lives little compared to the gift He bestowed? And don’t we owe our very lives to Him?

Finally, in conclusion, let us make this spirit of giving our daily living, not just a Christmas tradition. May we not wait for bright lanterns, colorful decorations, or cheerful carols before we give–just as Christ did not wait for us to be perfect before giving His life to us.

Shalom! Shalom!

Declaring His GLORIOUS SPLENDOR, exalting Jesus

The contrast of the landscape against the woman, the details of the transparent veil on her head, the soft contouring of her face as seen in the smooth transition from one color to another—all these and more have made art analysts from then and now marvel at Leonardo da Vinci’s genius, to the immortalization of the “Mona Lisa.”

But if we want to look at great masterpieces, we need not go to the Louvre Museum. We can just look up at the evening sky and see the shining stars, feel the invisible but palpable breeze tousling our hair, or stare at the mirror and into that complex confluence of bones and muscles and organs. Because all of nature, the whole universe, even our very beings, are canvasses. Intricate works of art.

Works of art that point to the glorious splendor of the One who created them all—everything—out of nothing, at just the command of His lips. The Great Designer, our Mighty God, who is:

Terrifyingly magnificent. The mountains quake before Him, the wild winds are hushed at the sound of His voice, the planets rotate and revolve at His bidding. So when Moses saw Him as a burning bush, he was warned not to come any closer; when Isaiah caught a vision of Him, he cried, ‘Woe to me! I am ruined!’; and when Paul encountered Him on the road to Damascus, his eyes were blinded. Powerful, holy, terrifying—this is our God.

But He is also beautiful, splendid, magnificent. Yes, Moses, Isaiah, and Paul were terrified in seeing a glimpse of Him, but they were also awestruck, mesmerized. The towering mountains and the orange sunset suddenly lost their charm. After seeing the real thing, the one Source of nature’s beauty, Moses, Isaiah, and Paul chased after nothing and no one else, like a groom who found his bride.

Mysteriously familiar. For thousands of years, the world’s greatest minds have yet to understand the whole of the universe. So much unexplored space and unreached galaxies—even with the aid of scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs. Now, if the universe is this vast, how much more God for whom the earth is but a footstool? Mighty, awesome, powerful, splendid, holy, righteous, majestic—He is all of these and so much more! Even Moses, Isaiah, or Paul could not paint for us the whole picture of God, for He is incomprehensible, far too lofty for our little brains.

But we can know Him. Not all of Him, yes, but we can know Him: when we are afraid, we know Him as our Fortress; when the economy is failing, we know Him as our Provider; when our health is falling, we know Him as our Healer; when people are against us, we know Him as our Defender. Whatever the season of life, we know Him as OUR God.

Transcendentally near. Throughout history, no one has ever come close to our God. Think of Alexander the Great, who, in his fifteen years of conquest, dominated most of the known world in his day, without ever losing a single battle. Then, at the age of 32, Alexander was defeated… by a disease. But our God, supreme in every way, will never be defeated by anything—even death. He proved that when He came back from the grave three days after dying on the Cross.

The Cross? Dying on the Cross? Why? Because transcendent as He may be, He is also a God who is willing to lay down His life just to save us puny people from the cruel hands of death. Not a far-away god who could not be moved from his high pedestal, but a God who comes down… who walks among the poor and touches the leper… who is personal, near.

So, the next time you look up at the evening sky and the shining stars, the next time you feel the breeze against your hair, the next time you see your reflection at the mirror, remember the One who created it all—terrifyingly magnificent, mysteriously familiar, and transcendentally near—and fall down before Him in worship.

“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:9)

Declaring His Liberating Peace, Exalting Jesus

Bro. Eddie Villanueva

The whole world is in chaos. The Global Peace Index of 2016 tells us that terrorism is at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict are at a 25-year high, and the number of refugees and displaced people are at a 60-year high.

As if those were not enough to confound us, we even have our share of personal worries and stresses—passing the midterm exam, paying the next bill, waiting for the medical test result, or fixing a shattered relationship. No wonder that, in the US alone, anxiety disorders afflict almost forty million adults (National Institute of Mental Health). All over the world, on average, one person commits suicide every forty seconds (World Health Organization).

With everything happening in and around us, peace has become a most sought-after commodity. Look at what happened to two World War II soldiers who were found in Mindanao’s mountains. The horrors of war caused them to retreat and hide there… for 60 years. Had they not been found in 2005, they would not have known that the war has long ended—and their hiding, futile!

Now, beloved people of God, the world’s terrors and our heart’s troubles are indeed overwhelming, so it is but normal to feel fear. In fact, fear is a perfectly natural reaction during unnatural events. BUT when fear begins to stifle us, begins to rob us our life, then it becomes wrong. Think of the 60 years the two soldiers wasted. 60 years of isolation, of unrest, of not being.

Do you have any worries today that cause you to hide? To run? I say DO NOT let any tumult or disturbance shackle you. Because while tribulations are sure, there is Someone who is surer. Someone who remains the same even through this ever-changing world. Someone who is fighting with and for us. Someone who promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Someone who gave up His all—His life—to free us from all adversities: our Lord Jesus Christ.

He defeated the greatest affliction in all universe. Yes, that which is crueler than a terrorist attack, severer than a nuclear war threat, and graver than a worldwide pandemic: sin. Through His crucifixion and resurrection, He slayed it and freed us from all its oppressive chains.

If He was able to do that, is there anything that He could not do? Call to mind all the worst possible scenarios that could ever happen in this world. Combine them all and even then, our God WILL still emerge victorious. And because He has won over sin and all of life’s sorrows, so can we:

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4, NKJV)

May you find comfort in this, that you may have a peace-filled life.

Shalom! Shalom!

ROADS

Paved or swampy, wide or cramped, flat or steep, smooth or rough. Which kind of road do you usually take?

Daily life includes inevitable encounters with roads: when we take our kids to school, eat out with friends, conduct business, or even as simple as when we buy from the sari-sari store. Our day-to-day activities involve stepping out of our homes and, hence, taking the roads. To prove just that, an automotive trade journal says an estimated number of 1.2 billion cars in the planet are hitting the roads every single day—1.2 billion people journeying to a specific destination.

That is right, a destination. Just like how every bus ride leads to a stop, or every car trip has to pull over, every journey has an end—this, a point worth pondering on as we reflect on our personal lives. After all, the life we live IS a journey.

You are on a journey.

But let me ask you… As you journey in this life, what is your destination? At the end of it all, where do you expect to arrive?

The apostle Paul needed not to think twice on this matter. He writes, “…I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me… I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus…” (Philippians 3:12-14, MSG).

To JESUS.

For Paul, the destination is not a place but a person. The person of Jesus.

Because, much like our literal journeys, the roads of this life will not always be paved or smooth. There will be bumps of worries, cracks of problems, storms of disappointments, and roadblocks of failures along the way.

After all those, after the rough, cramped, steep, and bumpy journey, are not His arms the best place to be in? And is not His face the best thing to see? What better joy is there?

So let me ask you again: At the end of it all, where do you expect to arrive? May you utter the same words as Paul’s:

“To JESUS.”

Together, for God and Country

The Jesus Is Lord Church Worldwide (JILCW)’s Statement
on the Recently-concluded Elections

As a church with the dictum GOD and COUNTRY, the Jesus Is Lord Church Worldwide (JILCW) has always been praying for good governance and righteous leadership, and for this election, God specifically answered us by giving us three victories:

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