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Do you have to be religious to love Jesus?

adoration

To me, that’s kind of like asking if you should be a gentleman in a romantic relationship. 

I’ve heard many people say this phrase over and over again. Whether it be Catholics, non-Catholics, traditionalists, or steady churchgoers. Believe me, I can totally understand the whole spiritual versus religious argument. I’ve become entangled in the issue myself on several occasions. Do I really need to be Catholic to go to heaven? Do I really need the Sacraments? Can I just pray everyday, serve God and live righteously? I mean it makes total sense right? God is all-loving and He is our friend. We shouldn’t need to do much to be close to Him other than obey His word and communicate with Him. I was leaning towards not having to be religious, until I realized this was nothing more than me wanting it my way.

 

Yes, God is our friend and He wants to be intimate with us. We must tell Him our every need and desire and keep in constant communication with our Creator. However, God gives us so much more than that. I think the reason why we feel like religion isn’t needed to love Christ is because we forget that God Himself created the Church and called Saint Peter (Pray for us) to build it on a firm foundation and to be the first Pope of the Catholic Church. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:17-18). It was a firm foundation indeed, the Catholic church is still strong and growing hundreds of decades later. Jesus created the Catholic Church and its traditions so that we could receive His sanctifying grace and be moved by His actual grace to join Him in His kingdom. I realized that saying I don’t need religion was basically saying I don’t need God. God created religion; Catholicism was the first form of Christianity and its teachings and values are still constant to this day. “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

 

Yes, I know it’s a lot of information to take in. Let’s take a break from scripture and talk about my personal life. I’ve been in a romantic relationship for almost a year and a half with the Catholic woman of my dreams. She has taught me so much on how to be a better Catholic and better gentleman. Why do people get in relationships anyway? Oh yeah – because they should intend to get married. That’s what God intended relationships and dating to be for anyways. Well, okay, maybe we can talk more about that later… I was blind because I always thought relationships were about being a very communicative couple with very strong chemistry and knowing every little thing about each other. But, just like I was blind in my relationship with Christ, I was also blind in my relationship with my girlfriend. Thanks be to God, my whole perspective changed.

 

In a Christ-centered relationship, the male should be the one who is dominant (Genesis 3:16) but he should also treat her woman with tender care and love. Let’s be honest ladies, you want your man to get you flowers, take you out to aesthetic scenery, and bring you to church (please couples go to church together often it’s THE best). There’s so much more to a relationship than just communicating and being close. Sure, communication is crucial, but it’s not everything. On top of romantic dates and creative gifts, you are also expected to be at your significant other’s celebrations and events. You should probably be at their great great Aunt’s cousin’s niece’s party if you wanna get some brownie points (JK). It’s important to be there at their graduation, their award ceremonies, and all that fun stuff. You want to be joyful and want to be there too! You wouldn’t want to dread being at your partner’s events. Through being at these events and being 100 percent engaged at them, believe it or not you are now closer to your partner (and her family and friends) in a way that could not have been achieved if you didn’t show up to anything. Gentleman will always be there for their woman and support her through anything. Gentlemen are great, but HOLY men are even better.

 

Don’t you want to celebrate the Death that Jesus paid to save us? God is so good that He doesn’t want us to show up to His celebrations for His benefit; He want us to show up for OUR benefit. God gave us His most precious body and blood so that we can receive His sanctifying grace which will infuse into our very own souls. Not only are we invited to the party, He’s giving us free, undeserved gifts that free us from sin! Like that’s crazy!  If we fall into the depths of a mortal sin, God gives us the sacrament of penance to forgive those sins.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God” (CCC 1855). If we ever feel like it’s hard to talk to God or listen to Him, it probably means we may be in a state of mortal sin. However, going to confession fixes that for us! If we need to speak to God in peace and silence, we have Eucharistic Adoration to help us speak more intimately with Him! When we go to Mass, Jesus literally gives Himself to us. In the form of bread and wine, we consume a taste of the divine. This divine taste is grace, the gift that God gives us so we can be one with Him. We are able to be one with God and actually consume Him. There is nothing more intimate than that. Even prayer alone can’t compare to the intimacy of the Eucharist.

 

If religion wasn’t important, the God wouldn’t have called Saint Peter to build it. A true relationship with God can only come through full commitment to Him. This commitment is only shown through practicing Catholic traditions. Religion was God’s effort and plan to have a Relationship with us. We should not be the judge of whether we need it or not. The truth will always be the same, and so will the Church. The Church is always accepting with open arms and all we need to do is accept God’s invitation! We are His Church and we are His body here on Earth. Let us not take for granted the gifts and sacraments of the Church that God has given us.

 

Challenge: If you haven’t been going to Mass every Sunday, think about why. Am I giving it a chance? Am I as engaged as I should be? Do I fully realize the gift that God gives me in His Eucharist whenever I receive it?

If you go to Mass every Sunday but you’re feeling kind of dry, try going to Eucharistic Adoration beforehand. Try speaking to God deeply in His presence. If that doesn’t work, try examining your conscience and go to Confession. Religion can be a struggle but it’s not impossible.

 

Written by Ramil Caragay

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This getting-healthy-thing is all about you.”

Every college student knows that you gain 15 pounds after freshman year, otherwise known as the “Freshman 15″. It wasn’t until I completed my first year of college two years ago that I realized the phenomenon was true (to a degree). I could barely into the shorts that I had once easily slipped into in August. So, being the peer pressured female teenager I was, I decided to go on a diet and daily exercise routine for the summer. I obtained a membership for a local gym for two months, invested in new sportswear, and stepped back into what seemed like the bittersweet rhythm of a healthy lifestyle (karate and soccer kept me off the couch back in high school).

One day, I took my first cycling class of Summer 2015. The first few minutes weren’t too bad, perhaps because I ignored every instruction to “pinch [the resistance] to the right” every 20 seconds. Halfway through the class, Angels by Jessica Simpson started blasting on the speakers, and the instructor stood up from her bicycle in preparation to pep talk us. “I want you all to completely forget about everything on your mind. All the stresses, all the worries, everything that is a pain in your life. Flush it all out with every push. This is all about you. You are doing this only for yourself. So forget about everyone and everything in this world, and focus on you!”

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31. This bible verse kept repeating itself in my head as she attempted to inspire everyone in the room. There is no way I’m doing this for myself, I thought, but for Him! This whole healthy diet and exercise idea had initially been for my own self gain. I wanted to lose the thunder thighs and the need to get rid of my clothes. But now, I had a real reason. I had a purpose. I would push myself beyond my comfort zone at every gym class and every meal in order to make Jesus proud. And I could inspire others to do the same! This thinking immediately sent energy through my whole body, and I sprinted like I never sprinted before on that bicycle. She then proceeded to say, “Close your eyes, so you can focus on yourself and your new toned body!” In response, I kept my eyes open, as if in Adoration, fixing my eyes on the Prize, the One who kept me going faster and faster. I felt myself grinning at the thought of this new perspective, my new motivation.

Maybe there are new things you want to try this spring. Whether it be a new sport, a first-time mission trip, or even a new health routine like mine, make sure to Fix Your Eyes on the Creator of those activities, the One who loves you with all His heart, and the One who made the struggles of trying new things so that you can come out of the experience as a stronger person. And so with this, let us pray,

Heavenly Father, you are an amazing God! Thank you for the rush that comes with trying something new and for the pain that comes with growing and learning. We promise to do everything for Your glory! You are motivation, You are our energy, You are our everything! We pray in Your most Holy Name, AMEN!

P.S. Don’t get me wrong! I love my instructor. She actually played Mandisa’s Overcomer and Kutless’s What Faith Can Do at class after I wrote this article, and I FREAAAKKEED OUT! I told her she made my day. She replied that she assumed younger people like me wouldn’t appreciate it. It goes to show we “youngsters” should be more outspoken about our love for Hillsong and Elevation Worship, AMEN?!

P.S.S. This was an article I wrote two years ago, and I certainly do not keep up with an exercise routine like I used to (guilty!). Regardless, whenever I do work out, I love listening to Christian Music! (Mandisa makes awesome zumba-worthy music too!) Here’s a great Spotify playlist to get you started! https://play.spotify.com/user/sozoofficial/playlist/2gnWYHMPsaTk8yZ8qN57qF

Written by Kipsy Quevada

 

 

What St. Teresa of Calcutta taught me… (Reflection)

We live in a world full of stress and worry. Personally, I feel that it’s very easy to complain about things… It’s very easy for me to complain about how hard school is, how demanding my parents are, how stressful work is, how much sleep I’m not getting, etc. But then, I think to what Mother (now Saint) Teresa went through back in her time. She exposed herself to the most dangerous cities. She exposed herself to places full of illness and contamination. She constantly worked herself over and over again without any fear or doubt. Saint Teresa didn’t complain about anything for one bit.

I, am guilty of complaining about even the smallest things in life. I easily get upset about things that I may find are unfair to me or that I feel shouldn’t happen to me. I easily get upset at others for doing things I don’t agree with. I easily get upset when things just don’t simply go my way. But, Saint Teresa always had the odds against her. She constantly made herself vulnerable to danger but never feared or complained. She trusted God’s calling in her life and never let anyone or any thing take her away from fulfilling it.

I’m easily prone to thinking that life is all about what I feel. It’s so easy to think to yourself that life is all about me, life is all about my own success, life is all about my own health, etc. St. Teresa has taught me that being selfless is actually the only true way to fulfill yourself. That giving is actually the only way to truly receive...  both God’s Grace and Holiness. Our hearts were made to love, and our hands were made to give. We live our lives for an even greater purpose than ourselves. Besides there’s nothing on this Earth, that is greater than love. 

“There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.”- Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Written By Ramil Caragay

 

“Lord, I want to Worship you… in Spirit and in Truth.”

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24

Worship is beautiful. Worship is righteous. Worship is powerful. Worship can be described in so many ways. Worship has been a part of my life for a very long time. I joined my Youth Group’s Praise Team when I was just 11 years old. I was asked to join because the Praise Team needed someone to play keys and I just happened to be the only one who was adequate enough to  play the part. For 10 years, I have experienced Worship in so many different ways. I started out as someone who just played because I thought it was so cool being up in the front, playing songs that everyone else could sing along too. It is only recently have I truly found the very true essence of Worshiping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As I grew as a Worship Musician, I started to go through the “emotional song phase,” the phase where I would start crying and get emotional because the song I was playing sounded so good and/or the dramatics of the music made me feel sentimental. I began to mistake this response for “being overwhelmed by Jesus.” I began to think to myself, “Worshiping God is really make me emotional.” And soon I started to emphasize my own emotions whenever I would play during Worship and try to pour out my heart into the words of the song. I poured out my heart into making the song the best that it could sound and if it sounded good, then I would get really emotional. I would tell myself “so this is what it feels like to Worship God.” But little did I know, it WASN’T my spirit singing out to God. It WASN’T me glorifying God, and pouring out my heart into not only the words of the song but to the very creator of our hearts. It WASN’T me throwing away my selfish pride and arrogance to acknowledge that God was truly present. It WASN’T me hungering and thirsting for His very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. It WASN’T me yearning for His most Holy Eucharist. Instead, I was using Worship Music as a way to express my own emotions. I was playing so I could relieve my own stress and worries. I played because it made me feel better about myself. I played because it made me feel powerful and superior. I played all these Worship songs, not knowing that not only my heart had to be in the right place… but ALSO my soul.

John 4:24 says “Those who Worship Him, worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” Singing Worship songs is more than just pouring out emotion, it’s surrendering your Spirit into His very Hands. It is very easy to get caught up into how good a song sounds, how drastic the dynamics are, how softly a part is played and so forth. As a Worship Leader, I know that all these effects are done to help ease people into letting go and fully Worshiping, but as true Disciples we should not let ourselves get too caught up into the emotional aspects of Worship. First things first, as Catholics, let us not forget that the only True Act of Worship is going to Mass on Sundays and receiving the Eucharist. Only the Eucharist can fully quench our souls and make us feel spiritually whole. Going to Worship nights or Praise Concerts should always lead us back to receiving the Eucharist, and they should make us want to go to Sunday Mass even more. We should never forget the Eucharist, even if we’re singing out songs about How Great Our God is. The inner essence of Worship is treasuring God, enjoying His presence, and being at ease from Spirit to Spirit. It’s about being satisfied with Him alone and throwing away your personal pride and desires in order to acknowledge Him as the one true God in your life. Sure, crying doing your favorite Worship song is great, but Worship is just so much more than that. It is a Spiritual Journey… not just an emotional one. Worship is truly from the soul. If a vocalist is singing a Worship song and it is not a spiritual experience for them, then they are simply just singing words. If an instrumentalist is playing a Worship song and it’s not a spiritual experience for them, then they’re just playing notes. Just like if you’re going to mass and receiving the Body of Christ; if that’s not a spiritual experience for you, then you’re just eating bread. It’s that simple. Worship is a spiritual experience in every way possible, no “if’s,” “and’s,” or “but’s.” From experience, I have noticed that Worship Vocalists tend to cry a lot easier than Instrumentalists. Why? Because Vocalists are actually singing the words of the song and feeling it, while instrumentalists are just playing Chords and/or riffs and it’s naturally harder to get into the mood of wanting to cry or get emotional. But here’s the catch. Worship is from the soul. So even if the Instrumentalists aren’t singing a word, their souls should still be singing out in silence. I always emphasize that Instrumentalists and Vocalists can Worship the same way, as long as their souls are the ones that are Praising God, both passionately and relentlessly. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was seeing my drummer break out in tears during a song. He didn’t break out in tears because he was singing the words of the song and it hit him, it was because he was playing the drums with all his heart, mind and soul, placing God above everything else and praising Him with everything he could give. That his true Worship, and when everyone in the Worship team is able to fully comprehend what Worship really is, then something amazing happens.  True Worshiping is always Worshiping God in SPIRIT.

Not musically talented? Have you always wanted to play an instrument but never really had the time? Don’t worry, because since Worship is from the soul, that means you can Worship Jesus the same exact way. Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of Worship.” Worship doesn’t just end on Friday night after Youth Group concludes, it actually just begins. Worship is meant to be brought out into the world. It is meant to be shared by those who are called to bring God’s peace and love to others. And as Catholics, we are all called to be living and holy sacrifices as our spiritual service of Worship. We must live our lives with our souls constantly crying out for more of Jesus. One of my favorite Catholic authors of all time, Matthew Kelly, once said in Rediscover Catholicism,”The Greatest form of Worship is imitation.” What better way to Worship Jesus Christ than trying to live the way that He did. If we are not living the way Christ has called us to live, then leading Worship and singing songs in His name means nothing. We must Worship God everywhere we go, in all our actions, in all our words. Everything we do or say should all be to glorify God. The key to being a Great Worship Musician isn’t being an amazing guitar player or having the most amazing vocals. The key is much simpler than that… It’s being the best living witness of Christ you can be here on Earth. Everyone loves to talk about feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit whenever they Worship, but the point of that is to take that presence you experienced and bring it home with you. Then let the Holy Spirit guide every step, every decision and every move you make. Let the Spirit guide you in everything that you do and let it bring you even closer to the Eucharist each day. That’s what Worship is about and that’s what Worship will always be about. Matter of fact, that’s what Worship IS. If you live your life according to His spirit, then you are able to fully Worship Him in TRUTH.

“In Spirit and in Truth.” That will always be what true Worship is about. We must never come up short with either of these two things. We were created to Worship. Believe it or not, our souls constantly yearn to Worship God, day in and day out. We don’t Worship God cause He needs us to Worship Him, we Worship God because WE need to Worship Him. Our souls hunger and thirst to Worship God, just like our souls hunger and thirst each day for the Eucharist. As His most faithful servants, we must Worship Him in both Spirit and in Truth! And only through that, can our souls be fully quenched with His most precious love, mercy and divinity. We find true inner peace when we Worship Him, and nothing else in this world can satisfy us the same way. We were made to Worship God so let us always keep that in our hearts and mind wherever we go! Lord God, you are the true satisfaction we seek, and we know that only through You can we be found! You are the Spirit and the Truth! Amen. 

Written by Ramil Caragay

 

Trusting in His Perfect Timing

God has been teaching me a lot about His perfect timing. This semester is honestly one of the hardest semesters I may ever experience. So many trials have been put before me throughout this entire semester that have been testing my faith and my will to keep going on. Recently, I failed a class for the first time in my life. Never in my life have I gotten a grade below a B-, so to fail, it was something completely new to me. Failing this one class interrupted my entire plan of how my life was going to be. I planned to graduate within the next two years, get a job, live happy. Now I’m set back an entire semester. I wish I could have said that I made it even when I was at my lowest breaking point. Life may have not gone according to my plan, but I’m confident in His perfect timing. He says that I made it.

“Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” (John‬ ‭13:7‬)

There have been a lot of “why’s” this semester, but through it all He has been molding me and strengthening my faith. It’s not easy to truly trust and surrender your worries and fears to Him, but all of the worries that we have are taken away from the power and overflowing ability that Jesus has to take care of us. He is not “setting us back” to harm us or hurt us or just because He simply doesn’t care for us. It may be a set back in our eyes, but to Him, it’s preparing us for something greater. We must have faith in the One who wants the best for us. If we truly believe and trust in Christ, everything will always turn out according to His plan. His plan for us is more than we could ever imagine it to be. I’m praying that I continue to trust in that promise.

Written By Hannah Solon

A “Superpower” called Love

God is Love. I’m going to bold that phrase and italicize it to the best of my ability. Okay, well that’s the best I can do because I’m unfortunately not a computer expert or anything like that. But, it’s okay because God loves me. A couple days ago I was on my way to work and got caught in traffic on the highway and ended up being twenty minutes late. I was filled with frustration and I was so upset with everything but then I realized, God loves me. During Black Friday, I went shopping (which is never a good idea to do on this day) and I accidentally cut someone on line and that person was outraged and yelled at me and told me I’d better step back before she called security and guess what I did? I stepped back and thought to myself, it’s okay, God loves me. Another time I was talking to a bank teller and I guess I started talking way too fast and I was chewing gum at the same time and I accidentally spit the gum out and it landed on the teller’s hand. Pretty embarrassing won’t you say? The teller looked at me with pure disgust. Boy, will I remember that look for the rest of my life. But anyways, at that moment I sure felt very ashamed but at the same time I felt some kind of relief because guess what I thought to myself? God loves me.

You see, the point I’m trying to make here is that with whatever I go through in my life, no matter how embarrassing or how painful it is, I always feel some kind of relief within my heart because I know that God loves me. That in itself is the ultimate consolation, in any situation, circumstance, trial, or tribulation. God’s love has the power to change my perspective on every situation. Even in the worse occurrences in my life, with God’s love truly present in my life, I am able to see everything through a positive lens. God’s love has the power to make me feel better no matter what I’m going through, even in the times of darkness and despair. God’s love is constant. God never loves us any less than He loves us right now at this second. God’s love has the power to brighten my mood. And He doesn’t even need to say a word. God’s love is visible to me through everything that I see and go through in my life, good and bad. God’s love is visible to me through the love of my parents, His love is visible to me through the hugs I receive from my best friends, God’s love is visible to me through everything. It’s what God does that assures me how much He truly loves me. He not only says He loves us, He SHOWS it. And through this love He gives me, I am transformed and I am impacted in ways that are truly unimaginable.

But the thing that is really astounding and wonderful, is that WE too have the power to impact lives and make others feel better about themselves. You see, God instills His love within our hearts. He created us with the image that we would love each other just as He loves us. God wants us to love each other exactly the way He loves us. He wants our love for one another to be visible, constant, and undying. He gives us “superpowers” just by letting us love one another. If you think God wasn’t an artist, then you’re severely mistaken. God is the master of all artists, and He created us in His image and gave us this “superpower” called Love. God wanted us to be powerful. He wants us to be strong. But, by powerful I don’t mean full of wealth, popularity or stature. But full of L-O-V-E. Full of goodness and compassion for one another. That’s how God intends for us to be powerful. That’s why He gave us Superpowers!

Something as simple as holding the door for an elderly woman carrying loads of groceries, or lending a dollar to that person in front of you in McDonald’s who might be short one, can positively impact their lives forever. Sometimes people just need to know that someone out there cares for them, even sometimes a stranger. Sometimes we need to step outside of our boundaries and do things people wouldn’t normally do. We need to stop caring about what society and culture teaches us about right and wrong and start caring more about one another. And yes, loving someone can be hard sometimes, but loving someone who may seem difficult to be loved is powerful beyond comprehension. Loving that person who yelled at you for cutting him/her on line, or being the bigger person in a confrontation between you and someone else, can have positive effects going forward. There’s always a reason why someone acts a certain way and most of the time, it’s because they haven’t felt enough love in their life. So when you encounter that certain someone in any instance or situation, the best thing to do is swallow your pride and show that person some love! Whether it’s cracking a smile, or saying sorry even if you didn’t do anything wrong to them, just showing them any type of compassionate from your heart will make them feel better and impact them in a positive manner! The “Superpowers” God gave you are powerful and should not be used in vain!

Hence, when we show love to the people around us, whether it’s our friends, our families, people we meet at school or work, or even strangers at a local supermarket, it will eventually have an impact on their lives. Believe it or not, that person you said sorry to even though they were the ones that bumped into you first, will remember what you did and they’ll start to think about it. And as Christians that’s what we want! If we can’t get people to automatically accept God’s love, we want to at least get them to think about it and consider it! We as creations of God, are all called to spread His love across the world and He even gave His only son to show us how much He truly loves us. It should be our duty to not only show love to the ones who we’re supposed to love, but also show loves to those who are harder to love! Because God created us all in His image and liking, and there is not one person in this world who is not worthy to be loved. God loves everyone equally no matter who they are or what they’ve done. And that is the prime example of what we should do for each other as His people! You see, being a superhero doesn’t need to involve climbing on top of buildings and running across the world in intense speeds. Being a superhero can be as simple as turning someone’s life around with a simple act of genuine love and kindness. The funny part is we all had this amazing superpower all along and most of us don’t even look to unlock it. I say we all unleash our superpowers and use them for the greater good of God’s holy people. Let’s be the Superheros God wants us to be!

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

Written By Ramil Caragay

Faith

What I can’t ignore when it comes to the word faith, is the word obedience. Trusting God when you don’t know the plan, trusting God when you’re unsure or afraid of what He’s planning for you. Trusting that He’s going to open a door, when a door isn’t there in front of you. It’s a decision to be obedient.

It makes no sense for us to walk from the known to the unknown or the sure to unsure, but that’s where God brings us.

This life is full of chasing. chasing relationships, chasing money, chasing our reputation. When we live in our purpose, we don’t need to chase things because the right opportunities will always find us.

To surrender is to find peace. I’m trying to let myself go, my self-will and allow God to take me where He wants to take me. I want to be obedient and be accepting of the plans He has for me although it’s not the way I want it to turn out sometimes. By taking life as it is and letting God work, everything will always turn out the way He intended. He is for us, our right moments will come and we will know if it’s from Him.

I am aiming towards that child-like faith.

 

Written by Hannah Solon

What’s Your Purpose?

The first time I heard this song, it nearly brought me to tears. I’m sure none of us had it as bad as Justin Bieber did throughout the years, but we all have hit a bump in the road. There have been plenty of times where we just want to quit and give up everything. I think the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with was transitioning from college to cosmetology school. Not as many people were as happy as I thought they were going to be. I heard too many negative things, within a few months. “Annie, you have so much potential in the medical field why would you do that?” “Why would you waste your time trying to pursue cosmetology?” “Shouldn’t you at least get a degree first?” Even people that didn’t know me tried to convince me not to do it. They would just kind of laugh, like I was joking around. People assume you’re stupid if you go to cosmetology school and it’s like a last resort if all else fails. The disappointment in everyone’s face was so hard to look at. I felt like I was letting everyone down. Family members started questioning me, I felt like the whole world was against me. So many hurtful words were constantly being thrown at me. I’m not sure what it is about cosmetology but people tend to look down upon it. For a while I was really hesitant to tell people what I do, but I’ve started to realize that being a hairdresser is the talent God has given me. I have the opportunity to make people look and feel better about themselves. And it took me time to realize that and now I just thank God for blessing me every day with the talents he has given me. I love what I do, and that’s all I could ever ask for.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

What Justin Bieber is saying is that God is now his “purpose” for living, and he should be ours also. He says “I put my heart into your hands, Here’s my soul to keep I let you in with all that I can, You’re not hard to reach and you bless me with the best gift that I’ve ever known, You give me purpose” We have to remember to give all our problems up to Him and He will take us where we need to be. There is a reason behind every bump in the road and we should learn from them. He is there for us at any time of the day, through our good times and our bad. It only takes a few minutes out of our day to reach out to Him.  I loved this line at the end where he says “You’re trying to be the best you can be but that’s all you can do. If you don’t give it all you got, you’re only cheating yourself. Give it all you got, but if it ends up happening, it ends up happening.” We tend to put ourselves down a lot whether it’s for a day or for a week. We really are our own worst enemies, but if we put God first, nothing else will matter. He wants us to use the talents He’s given us to be the best we can be for His glory. Our gifts and talents can be used to serve Him and to help serve His people. If we aren’t trying our best, then we are wasting our own talents.  He has to be our first priority from the second we wake up to the second we fall asleep. We shouldn’t expect anything from Him, but He is expecting so much more from us. We have to give Him our hearts and our souls and put all of our trust in Him. He gives us way too much and we take it for granted. Make Him your purpose for living each day.

Written By Annie Rivera

Come to the River

Sometimes “okay” has been the best we have been feeling in a while. You have yet to let go of your pain and suffering. You’re in repetitious mourning and unrelenting pain and you sometimes ask yourself, “Why is this happening to me? Does God even care for me or hear me?”

He does care, He does hear you. He knows our pain and exactly what we are going through. Sometimes the way He replies to our prayers is not the way we anticipate. Honestly, I’ve asked myself and Him if this is really it. If this is how He wants my situation to be. Why did He make me go through that or why is He keeping me in this place.

I was upset, but I’m thankful that He is patient enough to handle my cries, my retaliation. He’s able to handle me using him as a scratching post.

“He’s big enough to handle anything and everything I throw at Him, but wise enough to not give me everything I ask for”

When we begin to trust God with our lives, we must be ready to not understand the plans He has for us or why exactly it’s happening in a way you did not expect. He doesn’t expect us to understand, but He does expect us to trust Him through the waves of life He brings us through.

Go to Him, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to tell God what you’re really feeling inside, He’s there to listen, He’s there to comfort you and He’s there to work if you allow Him to.

Written by Hannah Solon

Two Worlds, Two Lives, ONE God

Division. Division is the single most common force in the history of this world. Almost anything that seems to be together, always seems to separate through time. Division has become inevitable. Whether it’s the relationship you were in for almost 10 years that somehow just stopped working out of nowhere, or your favorite boy band that hit #1 on the Billboard Charts that randomly decided to split up because of some unknown reason. Division is a common occurrence in our everyday lives. Division is the reason the Civil War back in Revolutionary America took place,  it’s the reason why Racism cursed America in the Mid-1900’s, and it’s the reason why the Christian faith is split into Protestants and Catholics. Division is powerful. It has the power to either make or break an entire community, a country and even the World. Don’t get me wrong though, Division is not always evil. Some things should be divided, Good and Evil, Sin and man, Heaven and Hell, Cat and Dog, etc. Division is a powerful force that should not be misunderstood, misinterpreted and most of all, ignored. Division can do almost anything with anyone and it shows no mercy. My advice, Don’t mess with Division. 

Now let’s look at ourselves. Let’s face it, we face a battle with division every single second of our lives. You face it when you’re at school and the weird kid in class tries to talk to you and you try running away, you face it when you’re at a church event and you think you’re too “cool” for everyone and just feel like being on the “cool” kid side of the event (no such thing as being “cool” in Jesus’ eyes), you face it when you’re at home and your family is watching a movie together and you just don’t feel like joining them cause you’re “too” tired. Division is always there, and it will always be there. It becomes an everyday challenge for us. But the biggest Challenge we have today with division is what I like to call the “Two Worlds, Two Lives” Challenge (Hence the Title of the article). The saddest part about this challenge is that we face it every single day and almost 70 percent of us are NOT even aware that we are facing it. It’s impossible to overcome a challenge that you are not even aware of.

Today’s society is full of many young people who love the Flashing lights and loud noises of the everyday world. Society is consumed with Social Media, Reality TV Shows, video games, and a whole lot of other secular things. And as I’ve said before, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Secular things. Matter of fact Secular things, when used for good, can be used to bring people closer to God and can be used to Glorify and Honor Him. The only problem is that most of us become consumed by the Secular aspect of our lives and soon we begin to develop another life that is just secular. Those of us who are very active in our Churches and Youth Groups, consider ourselves “Religious” people. (I don’t like the word religious, I prefer being called someone who really loves God.) Some people grew up in church, they were raised around a Spiritual lifestyle and that’s all they ever knew growing up. Then they become a teenager and graduate High School and go into the “Real” World. They are then introduced to Social Media, friends, TV and all of that good stuff. They start to find that these things are actually very enjoyable and they start to develop a habit of doing these things everyday. They now have another life. Not a new life, another life. Another life added on to the religious life they were already living. However, they are still active in their Church and Youth group. They still go to Church every Sunday and YG Meetings on Fridays and they still love serving God. The only difference is that when they step outside those church doors, or when they finish playing the last Chord of the final Worship song, they go back to their other life. They go back to the life they had developed from being too consumed with Media, friends, influence, and fun. (And of course, this whole process can be reversed. A secular person who didn’t know God then found God and found a religious life.)

How many people do we know that fit the circumstances that I stated above? We all know someone like that. For me, I can say I am guilty of it as well. It happens to everyone. There’s always going to be a point where we make our lives into two and we let the power of division get the best of us. It’s inevitable and it happens to the best of us. The issue with having two different lives and living in two different worlds, is that there’s always the danger of us fully throwing one of them way and just picking one of those lives. Living a life of just secular things is obviously wrong, but living a life of just Sacred things and completely ignoring the Secular world is equally as wrong. There has to be some sort of balance. God is not only present in Church, He is not only present when we are singing Worship songs, and He surely isn’t only present when we are in need. He is ALWAYS present and He is present everywhere. Everywhere we go and everything we do, He is always there. And therefore. everything we do should be for Him and for His glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or you drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the Glory of God.” Every little thing we do should have God involved, in heart and mind, soul and divinity. We shouldn’t be very powerful church leaders who are really inspiring to everyone in our Churches and Church groups, and then go home to our boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse and live completely different lives and become completely different people. Every aspect of your life has to be FOR Christ and until you are willing to accept that, nothing will ever change. Whether it’s your relationship, your friendships, your hobbies, your extracurricular activities, your job, or your family, every thing you do should be centered around Christ and should have Jesus in control at all times. Once we fully surrender every facet of life to our Lord and Savior, then we can finally make the biggest step toward overcoming the “Two Worlds, Two Lives” Challenge.

We need to stop living as two different people and simply just break the division between our two different lives. Division is powerful and it can do many things, but the one thing it cannot do is overcome God’s grace and mercy. We need to start evaluating our own lives and start thinking about what we can do to make God the center of every little thing we do. We have to take away the pride, greed, selfishness, and stubbornness from our hearts and replace it with God’s humility, love, selflessness, and openness. We need to replace the poisonous thoughts in our minds with thoughts of holiness and divine teaching. We need to stop doing things just for our own pleasure and instead do them for the Glory and Honor of our Lord and Savior. We have to always have Him in our hearts no matter what it is we do in our lives. And we can never let ourselves get too distracted or too consumed by the loud noises of the everyday world. God is always present and He is always by our side. He wants us to enjoy the secular things of this world, and He wants us to enjoy being in the comfort of His arms as well. He wants to be there for us.

So now that we are fully aware of this Challenge and what it’s going to take for us to overcome it, we have to make that first step. We have to surrender everything to Him and take away the things in our lives that might hold us back from fully surrendering to Him. This challenge will not be easy. It will be spiritually and mentally exhausting. Some might even want to give up. But God always gives us the strength to overcome it and He always equips us with what we need. Division is a power that is NOT superior to our Savior’s love and it’s His love in us that will help us overcome this Challenge. We will fight division until our last breath and we will come out on top. Through thick and thin, God will always be by our side and nothing will ever change that. In the end of this challenge, a lot of things might seem broken. Some of us will think we have broken hearts, broken friendships, broken dreams, broken relationships, but these are just distractions trying to take our focus off the one thing that was really broken, the Divide. #BreakTheDivide

Written by Ramil Caragay