Strength to Strength - Day 2

Imagine you are in the midst of battle...

There are enemy soldiers all around you. From afar, they seem to be so much larger than you, their weapons and armor glistening in the midday sun. Their faces are stern and fierce, ready to charge at any moment's notice. They look unbeatable.

You glance at your fellow soldiers, the look of concern painted all over their faces. They seem to be staring at you, hoping they could draw from you the strength and courage they need for this battle. You wonder to yourself: "I am no different from you friends. Like you, I feel the same concern. Like you, I want to conquer this formidable enemy. But we cannot conquer this enemy by ourselves. We need to draw our strength from an Almighty Source."

This is probably what David had in mind when he wrote Psalm 27.

1 Lord, you are my Light and my Savior,

so why should I be afraid of anyone?

The Lord is where my life is safe,

so I will be afraid of no one!

2 Evil people might attack me.

They might try to destroy my body.

Yes, my enemies might attack me and

try to destroy me,

but they will stumble and fall.

3 Even if an army surrounds me, I will not be afraid.

Even if people attack me in war, I will

trust in the Lord.


Trust in the Lord Almighty. He gives you the strength to face your battles victoriously!

Wonderfully Made - Music and Lyrics by Paolo Tirol

I've seen ev'ry tear that you've cried.

The fears and the failures your struggle to hide.

The worthiness doubted beneath all that pride.

The visions and dreams left behind.


I know your remorse and regret.

The secrets and stories you ache to forget.

So many people you'd die to be yet.


I choose you, I choose you.

Do you know I choose you?

I choose you.


Refrain:

If only you could see yourself the way that I do,

And know yourself the way I know you

Then you'd love yourself

As somebody who is wonderfully made.


How faultless you are in my eyes.

So gentle and guiltless, so perfect and prized.

There's so much to love that you don't realize,

My child, My beloved, My pride.


A future with so much in store,

A gift those around you are so grateful for.

Nothing can alter that forevermore.


I'd choose you, I'd choose you.

Do you know why I'd choose you?

I'd choose you.


(Refrain)


Forever and ever I'd choose you.

Just as you are, I'd choose you.

Again and again, I would choose you.


(Refrain)


Wonderfully made,

Wonderfully made,

Wonderfully made are you.

Slaying The Giants

Same time, last year. Who would have thought that a microscopic virus could become a powerful giant that would mercilessly turn the world upside down? Its power lies not only its ability to destroy countless lives in an instant, but in its tenacity to be unpredictable and unmanageable. The Covid19 virus took control of areas of our lives we previously had confidence in – our sense of stability, our wealth, reputation, career achievements and relationships. For most of us, the Covid19 virus has exposed our vulnerability.

We long for the day when we can tell our children and the generations after them how we finally beat this deadly virus and overcome the other giants accompanying it – the giants of fear, discouragement, broken relationships, grief over our loss, and the giant of losing faith in God.

Today, let us put our swords down for a moment, and remove our shield and defenses. Let us draw near to our Lord, our victorious King. Hebrews 4:16 says, Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Prayer from Psalm 18


I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord,

Who is worthy of praise,

And I have been saved from my enemies.

For who is God besides our Lord?

And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength.

And keeps my way secure.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;

He causes me to stand on the heights.

He trains my hands for battle;

My arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You make your saving help my shield,

And your right hand sustains me;

Your help has made me great.

We are all familiar with the Bible story of David and Goliath. We recall how a faith-filled and courageous young boy saved Israel from their powerful enemy. David only had a slingshot and a few stones. But his anchor was his unshakeable faith in His God. God used David’s strengths to kill the giant Goliath with one aim. He named his strength, he claimed that God can use it, and so he aimed his strength for the kill. That story reminds us that we too can boldly defeat the giants we face by putting our trust in the Lord. The battle we face is not ours but the Lord’s. Victory can be a reality. God gives us abilities and strengths, and he uses what we have in our hands to overcome our obstacles.

The Bible tells us another story about facing the giants. In Numbers chapter 13 of the Old Testament, we read about how God instructed Moses to send 12 men to explore the land of Canaan which He would give to the Israelites. This is the land of milk and honey, the promised land.

Let’s read about what happened:

21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol,[a] they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.


Report on the Exploration

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

(Numbers 13:21-33)

What strikes you about the story? If you were one of the 12 men sent to explore the land, what recommendation would you have given to Moses? And if you were Moses, which report would you believe?

I can very well relate to this story in many ways. The Lord has promised in His Word, the Bible, that He is giving us an abundant life and a good future. He says in Jeremiah 29:11,

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

However, when circumstances become challenging, when I become uncertain of the future, when events happen that I did not expect, or when I perceive people as threatening or opposing me, I begin to “seem like grasshopper in my own eyes”. I put the obstacle right before my very eyes, so now it becomes a formidable giant. And then I realize that, if I had only stepped back a little and see the obstacle in a wider perspective, I would see that my God is so much bigger and so much more powerful than all these obstacles and giants I perceive.

Try it yourself! Put your right hand so close to your eyes that you can hardly see anything else. How big does your right hand seem to you? Now gradually, push your right hand as far away from your eyes, still at the same level as before, and begin to see your right hand as part of the bigger picture you see around you. Is your right hand still as big as when you were looking so closely to it?

Our God is big! He is the God of the universe! We are mere grains of sand in His hand (way smaller, actually).

His concept of time is past, present, and future all at the same time. So, He knows what is going to happen to us before we can even imagine it.

God sees and feels our fears and our anxieties. He loves us just the same. But He keeps inviting us to respond in faith when troubles come, He would like us to be a Caleb who said to Moses, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”


In the story, why was Caleb confident?

  • His starting point was knowing who His God is. He recalled the miracles of God to rescue them in the past. Caleb believed that God is unchanging in His ways and worthy of his trust.

  • He knew himself and his strengths. Caleb was self-aware. He knew that his strengths as a fearless and strong leader could contribute to the greater good. He saw himself as an active participant in the story rather than as a passive spectator.

  • He knew the situation well. In the 40 days that they explored the land, he gathered as much information to help him plan out the attack. He had a strategy in place (we could read more about this in the book of Joshua 14:6-15)

  • He chose to maximize opportunities that lay before them, rather than dwelling on their limitations.

  • He chose to see the giants from God’s perspective, rather than from his. In the people’s view, they were grasshoppers to the giants. In God’s vantage point the giants were grasshoppers to Him.

Reflections by Menchit Wong

Relator. Empathy. Responsibility. Connectedness. Belief.


Several years ago, I was given a challenging task of leading an international team of subject matter experts in global advocacy for vulnerable children. One of them said, “Let’s pray for Menchit so that the Lord will teach her how to do her job.” I knew that this leader meant well, but I felt awkward that he said it that way.

At my first meeting with this team of accomplished men, I recognized each of their expertise. I also affirmed what mine was. These men were outstanding individual contributors. They needed a leader with skills in facilitation, relational skills and a strategic mindset that could synergize their expertise. Serving as leader for this international team was truly humbling and made me more prayerful. The rallying cry in my head was: identify each one’s specific value contribution, bring integration by strategic application of each one’s ability, facilitate activities in a humble but firm approach, and do everything with commitment, prayer and a spirit of unity.

I was involved in this global team for a little over ten years. By God’s grace, this strong partnership of six men and a woman paved the way to develop and implement child protection policy across our organization serving twenty-six countries. This partnership produced at least two books, inspired the creation of a training center for children’s ministry workers in Africa, and ignited a global alliance for holistic child development among local churches, mission organizations and academic institutions.

I had not yet been aware of my top 10 strengths at that time. But if I did, I would have realized that these top talent themes helped me overcome the giants of fear of men and fear of failure – Belief, Relator, Responsibility, Learner, Connectedness, Maximizer and Harmony. Could the fearful Menchit have done it? No way! God did it, and the glory belongs to Him.


What is your story? What is your vantage point? Whose report do you believe?


I invite you to watch this video. The video contains excerpts of a 2006 film entitled, “Facing the Giants”. After watching the video, take time to reflect on the guide questions.

Facing the Giants (Video).mov

Guide Questions:

  1. When faced with challenges and obstacles, what perspective do you take?

  2. How does stepping out in faith lead you to overcome the giants you face?

  3. How are you preparing for the victory God has already promised you?

  4. What are the strengths God has given you to win your victory over giants in your life?



Bring your heart and soul to God. And listen to Him speak to you about your giants today. God knows your heart and wants to let you know His heart for what you are going through. As you close your meditation in prayer, read out aloud God’s message for you today.


11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Embracing Our Brokenness

Center yourself by listening to this song - Broken Vessels by Hillsong

You take our failure

You take our weakness

You set Your treasure

In jars of clay

So, take this heart Lord

I'll be Your vessel

The world to see

Your life in me

Read and reflect on these verses. Which one is speaking to you today?

Romans 3:10, 23

"As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Psalm 103:14

"For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust."

Romans 8:18

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

James 1:2-3

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."

1 Peter 5:10

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

Ephesians 2:10

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."


Here are 2 interesting words. How do these relate to embracing our brokenness?

Poiema. This, is used in the bible to mean workmanship. We are God's work of art, His masterpiece. We have been crafted with talents and skills for a purpose, by God, for His purposes, specifically as stated in Ephesians 2, we are "created in Christ Jesus to do good works."

Kintsugi. This is a centuries-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery and transforming it into a new work of art with gold. The name of the technique is derived from the words "Kin" (golden) and "tsugi" (joinery), which translate to "golden joinery" or "golden repair". The scars and cracks of the broken ceramic become the focus and turn the object into something unique and exquisite.

Listen to Coach Monette's STORY or read the transcript below.

Suicide and Death

My Lord and my god

Lift me up from all this misery

Take my life, Take my soul

Fill me with the Holy Spirit.


No longer have self control

Badly in need of your Enlightenment

Desperate and scared

Move with no cares


Give me a change of heart

Cleanse my mind and my soul

Bring me to true happiness

Or just let me close my eyes and die.

~ Monette

Transcript of MY STORY by Monette Santos-Fider

Responsibility. Achiever. Connectedness. Relator. Individualization.

I wrote this poem in the mid 90s. I had no control over my life, and I didn't care what happened to myself either. I let myself go numb. The only reason I did not jump overboard the ship to take my life was because of the thought of my kiddos. So, I asked God for help. What I didn't realize then was that I did not surrender completely. I did not give Him all my broken pieces. So life continued as I learned to compartmentalize all the roles I played. My CONNECTEDNESS was probably telling me that all will be well, but perhaps I was not in touch with reality. My ACHIEVER made sure I continued to give 100% at work, regardless of my family situation.

It wasn't until 4 years later that I finally got the strength and courage to fight back. As he (ex-husband) held me by the collar of my shirt, lifting me up and banging me against the wall, something just came through me, and I swung at him with a mean right punch on his face. All 220 pounds of him flew back, hit the other wall, and slid down to the floor. Both of us were in shock. But, enough is enough. My numbness had to stop. The emotional and physical abuse had to stop. Flying furniture had to stop. Children witnessing this had to stop.

A year later, or 5 years after writing the poem, things got worse because he could not deal with an empowered woman. Things got from bad to worse, and he asked our eldest daughter, who was 12 at the time, if she wanted us to separate or not. She answered with these words: Minsan oo, minsan hindi...because you are always fighting. Then he went to the bathroom, took the insecticide, came out to us, sprayed it in his mouth, and collapsed with froth coming out of his mouth. One can only imagine what havoc was happening here. With the help of neighbors, we carried him to our vehicle, and I drove him to the Emergency Room.

He lived, of course, but we went our separate ways. That was the beginning of my journey as a single mom to 5 children 3 to 12 years old. And, eventually, a single mom of a single mom. And then, I continued on to have an irresponsible relationship with someone who had recently come out of a life sentence in bilibid (national prison).

Broken. Broken.

We have all these scars in our lives so that we can be broken and repent - not to be proud, but to be humble. The Lord wants the obedience of the heart. When you are completely broken and you pray from your broken heart, God heals you. Yes, God heals us. I cannot brag about raising my kiddos single-handedly. It is only by mercy and by His grace that God chooses to forgive me and save me. Not by my deeds, but by His grace.

And so I give Jesus all my broken pieces because He continues to work on the masterpiece that I am. He has already planned what He wants to do with our lives. He has a unique plan for each of us to serve Him in this world. I am turning my mess into a message of love, joy, peace, compassion and hope.

Oh, remember the irresponsible relationship I had with someone? I married him! God works in mysterious ways! His is another story of embracing our brokenness! See you at our Live Zoom Community!

Our Strengths are gifts from our Creator. Barrier Labels are negative terms used when an innate talent (strength) is devalued or dismissed as a weakness. Look at the barrier labels of your Top 5 Strengths/talent themes.

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Guide Questions for Reflection

  1. How does embracing your brokenness change the way you view your strengths/talent themes?*

  2. Read the barrier labels of your Top 5 Strengths. How have you seen them play out in your own life?*

  3. Meditate on Ephesians 2:10. Spend your time in prayer, bringing to God your brokenness, past pains, and disappointments. Surrender all to Him, trusting that He will eventually restore you to your original intended purpose.

*If you are not yet aware of your strengths/talent themes, use this as your reflection guide:

  1. How does embracing your brokenness change the way you view what you are here on earth for?

  2. Where do you need God's help in restoring your authentic self, so you work towards His will & purpose for you?


It is a wonder what God can do with a broken heart, if He gets all the pieces.

- Samuel Chadwick