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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When Our Plans Don't Work


How many times did you say, "I wish I knew God's will for me?" People outside and inside the church are facing a common dilemma. The dillema is the question of making sure that God is guiding us in our everyday decision making.

Many of us wish that God will give us a clear life plan for us. We want to know in advance what God has in store for us in the future. Very few people in the Bible that we know received their life plans from God. The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament says, these people of faith died without receiving all that God had promised. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance (v.13). Abraham, when told by God to pack up his family and possessions obeyed God and started walking. He was not given the details of his journey, his destination, how much it will cost him or the reward he would get later, whether he will receive a 401(k), or a health insurance benefit that goes with God's commands. Abraham obeyed God. He did not question God at all!Let us not forget that God never promised to give us a twenty-year plan of action; instead, what He promised us many times in the Bible is never to leave or forsake us.

Forget what God's will in your life! What matters most to God is not what we intend to do next year, but He is much interested about our response to His Spirit's leading today! We should quit trying to figure out what the future will be for us and focus on what God wants us to do for Him, instead of what God can do for us. If we have already surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ, it is not our job to tell God what we want Him to do for us. Only God knows our future. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope."

So what then is God's plan for us? I believe that God's will for us is to WORSHIP Him! Worship means to express our love and awe of who he is. True worship requires complete commitment of our body, soul and mind. Our problem is we are only interested with the words "give to you." It requires worshipping God to receive this promise.

Another problem with some people is they "add a little bit of God to their lives to balance life." Unconsciously, we find asking God to join us in places we want Him to go, rathet than following Him as we are commanded to do so. God is not something that we can just simply add to our lives.

God orders our steps. Psalm 37:23 reads, "The steps of a good man are odered by the Lord; he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." God delights on us when we follow and trust Him. What is a good man? A good man is not a wealthy person, an intelligent man or woman, a benevolent and charitable man, or one who believes he is good. No one is good. When we start to feel that we are good people we ought to consider that we are "good" because of the goodness of God in us, and not because we are good on our own. We are good because God is good! Take one letter "O" from the word good and it is read GOD! So, the next time you are tempted to think that you are a good person, remember that apart from Jesus in your life it is impossible for you to be good!(Sometimes we are good because of our selfish motives and crafty plans).

Another big problem with us is we are stubborn and complacent. Proverbs plainly tells us, "For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil." (Prov. 1:32,33). Wow! What a deal! As a pastor, I realize that many times I found myself in this very place--stubborn and complacent. I made many wrong and foolish decisions that literally destroyed my dreams and hopes. Christians can easily fall into the trappings of making foolish choices if they ignore God's advice. If we obey His teachings and meditate on his word, it will keep us from greater pain in the future. Notice the words, "listen to me." God leads, we follow. If we do, then God will give us our safe and secure dwelling in this life and protection from all evil things.

God wants us to know His will more than we want to know it. He takes full responsibility for us to discover His will and purpose. His will is ultimately His problem, not ours. Our job is to delight in the Lord. Let us make Him our guide, and surrender to Him everything for His guidance and sovereign will. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:4,5)

The Psalmist, David, calls us to delight in the Lord, even commit all we have and do to Him. When we delight in someone, we experience pleasure and joy in his presence especially when we "know" that person quite well. To delight in the Lord it requires for us to know Him better through the Word, as we seek Him and love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds.

Lastly, I believe that the key to knowing God's will and plans for our lives is this: To keep in step with the Spirit and walking with the Spirit. Let us be His followers, not mere fans.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Heavenly Father


It's been 18 years since I lost my father and I miss him so much. All that he wanted was to give me the best. Papa was always away from us (we were in Manila). He was the administrator of my cousin's large sugarcane plantation in the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines. For years my father worked so hard to provide for us, making sure we had food on the table,descent clothes to wear and that I get enrolled in a good school.

My father had a very strong character. He was extremely straightforward, frank and honest. He was always misunderstood by others but that did not bother him at all. He will always stand for what he believes is right and will never allow anybody to step on his principles in life. He was strict, but firm. I admired him so much and looked up to him as a role model when it comes to taking a stand for what is right even if it would mean losing friends. He never wanted to be a "people-pleaser". Although there were things that I hate in him particularly his drinking, I still find him as the best Dad in the world. He loved me so much that no matter how "drunk" he was, he would always ask me to sit in front of him telling me that he loves me. He would look straight to my eyes and tell me not to follow his drinking and smoking habits. He would clearly admit that getting trapped with alcohol and nicotine is the worst thing a man could do in his life. I admired him for that and took his advise up to this very day. He was honest and loving. He will always be there for me and my mother no matter what. I must admit that my parent's marriage was very rough and turbulent. But all the bitterness, hurt and pain of a dying romance would later be changed when my parents came to receive our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in their lives. Forgiveness--what a powerful act all of us can offer to one another if we are to live a new life of love, peace, hope and joy! Yes, my father's life was changed by God, even my mother's too. And later, my life would also never be the same again when I met Jesus. Today, I may not be where I want to be in my life but I thank the Lord that I am not where I used to be. Amazing grace!

I was devastated when I lost my father. He was the only one left to look after me after my mother passed away. I was their only child. It was only in those empty and lonely moments that I learned more about thanking God for every thing that is happening in my life, good or bad (though God is not the author of suffering). I learned that our Heavenly Father is a Sovereign God. While for years I struggled with the pain of losing a loved one, my father, the feeling of emptiness and loneliness disappeared, replaced with surging feelings of confidence, love and hope. Although I lost my earthly father, I have our Heavenly Father, the author and finisher our faith. Each day I wake up to see the day that He has made for me and my family, I know that He is alive! I know because I know Him. I know that it is Him who comes to rescue me and my family in times of trouble. I know that it is His great love and forgiving kindness that sustains and preserves us in the storms of our lives. The Psalmist said,"By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me--a prayer to the God of my life"(Psalm 42:8).

As the world celebrates Father's Day tomorrow, God allowing, I ask the Lord to bring to my remembrance His goodness and mercy. I pray that He will remind me that He is my Heavenly Father who watches over me us. While my father is but a memory in my heart, my Heavenly Father is alive in my life! I am so blessed that I have a Heavenly Father who promised to never leave me, nor forsake me--who not only loves me, but also those I love! Wow! What a deal!

I thank my Heavenly Father for my family. I thank Him for my loving wife, Hayddie, and our wonderful son, J.O. (Julius Obregon, Jr.). There is nothing more precious to me than what God has given me--my family. I am the happiest father in the world because of what the Lord has done for me. I have a wonderful family. There is no amount of wealth, success and fame that is greater than what I have right now, and that is my wife and my son. And above all, our Heavenly Father.

I remember my beloved mother (the greatest Mom in the world) who taught me the song, "We Three". She would play the guitar and accompany me as we sing the song. She would sing the second voice, and we end the song with great vocal harmony. She would emphasize the last six words of the song, "my shadow, my echo and me." The song is a song of loneliness. I always wondered what the writer felt while writing this song. Today, I still hum that song in my mind, "We three, my Hayddie, my J.O., and me." And day after day, "we three" will always experience the love and grace of our Heavenly Father.

Did you ask Jesus to come in to your life? Fathers, I urge you to ask our Heavenly Father to teach us to be Godly men. Men who will fear and revere Him. Ask Him today to make you the greatest Dad in the world! Seek Him and delight in His Word. Pray for the grace of obedience and righteousness. Seek Him first and His righteousness, and all things will be added to you.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Grace For Waiting


Everyone who knows me will tell you that if there is anybody in the face of the earth with a patience problem, it's me:) I want things done fast. However, I later realized that "time" is its own master. It has its own process and pace. Waiting can be so difficult and the ability to wait is grace from God. When it seems that nothing is happening and changing on our favor, we can only rely and trust God to grant us a greater measure of faith. Believing that He is in deed working in our problems, our career, work, families and relationships.

Do you know that "time" have relatives? They are called "seasons". Seasons are periods working in our lives that are not the same. God uses them in different ways and meanings. Most of our heartaches are caused by unmet expectations, and it is of extreme importance that we understand how time does its work in every situation we are going through. Having the right attitude while waiting is the best definition for patience.

We want it now! We want things we desire to happen instantaneously. The world we live in is full of instant things. From coffee to medicine, we all want instant satisfaction, relief, and results. We feel discouragement, frustration, stretched, and ready to throw the towel. We even have expectations that God will bring us instant and immediate deliverance from whatever pain and trouble we are experiencing.
We need to understand that there are situations in life that will require time. Rushing things is dangerous territory. Proverbs 21:5 says, "The plan of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty."

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). We all have to deal with the passage of time. There will be seasons in our lives where our pain and circumstances are opportunities for personal growth and developing character. It is up to us if we will choose to learn from our mistakes or keep committing the same mistakes.

Our assurance in these truths boils down to this principle: If we let our seasons work significant changes in us, God will always walk with us, transforming us through His divine work. He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

When God Closes A Door


When doors are slammed on us it is easy to respond in a negative way. I believe that our struggle is the fact that we don't know the reasons why God allowed the doors to close. It is this strange and mystifying "silence" that makes us wonder if God really cares about our circumstances. Sometimes closed doors come just so suddenly and abruptly followed by silence we often misinterpret--the "sound" of God's silence.

I came to understand even as we are experiencing doors slammed on us, that God doesn't tells us why a door is closed. He rarely explains to people His reasons for closing doors. There are things we really believe will work. It can be an idea, a business, career, relationship,opportunities, or even a ministry we have been working on for years, doing our very best to make them work, then "suddenly" everything falls and collapses; torn down!

As doors close in life, we learn that God is sovereign. People are regarded as nothing, and God does as He pleases. We cannot hold back His hand and question what He allows to happen in our lives (Daniel 4:35). His plan for you and me is profound, and God takes full responsibility for His actions. We should be the "responders" not "initiators." How we respond to closed doors is important. He is the Potter and we are the clay. Only the potter forms, shape and designs with his hands clay and determine their purpose and use.

God can close one door after another in our lives. God can turn our disappointments to divine appointments. When He closes a door He opens a window. The Apostle Paul in the story of his second ministry never thought that God would literally keep them from preaching the word in the province of Asia. The Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to enter Bithynia even as they tried to. One night, Paul saw a vision of a man calling him to go to Macedonia to help them. Acts 16 tells us this great story of doors that were slammed in Paul's ministry. But what makes this story so powerful and inspiring is Paul's response. He "immediately" went!

I believe that "waiting upon the Lord" does not mean being passive. We have to continue to seek for His will and surrender ours to Him. Ask God what His will is, not what His will is for you. Like Paul, when doors were slammed on him he "went" until God showed him open doors. We must get on pass our closed doors and move on in our journey with the Lord. We need to make bold decisions when we know that is is God who closed the doors. We cannot just sit and be passive. We must follow His lead and new doors will open for us. But first, we must open the door of our hearts and ask Jesus to enter. There is only one thing that God cannot do and that is to open the door of your heart. He will stand outside that door and wait until you ask him to come in.

If you have not asked Jesus to come into your heart, you can do that now, even as you read this blog. Remember, when doors are slammed, tell Jesus, "Let it be..let it be."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Family That Sings Together

Last night in my Music Room at Sizzler Restaurant I was blessed to meet people who came to have fun with friends and family. There was this wonderful family (names I cannot mention)that joined the Karaoke Party and it was such an awesome experience! Rarely to we find a family that sings together. In a society we live in today where many parents errantly find children "interruptive" to their busy..busy..busy..busy life, one will find it so heartwarming to see a family that sings together (mother and son, father and son, mother and daughter ...).

God is the inventor of family. He instituted it and is delighted when families cling together. Our first ministry is our family and not our jobs, our careers, our sports. Do you spend some quality time with your family? "Family" in this world we live in is spelled T-I-M-E. Ask your children and they will tell you what I mean. "There is no amount of success that compensate failure in the home"--Ouch! Your perfect job, your social standing, your possessions, your business, your achievements, are all nothing when you have no time for your family. We may have beautiful homes, landscaped gardens, flashy cars, fancy gadgets, yet we can fail to spend time with our children. Children are God's expression of His unconditional love! Our part is to give more of that love and attention to them and to others.

I thank God for my family. I am blessed to have a wondeful wife (Hayddie) and son, J.O. (Julius Obregon, Jr.). They are truly the expression of God's love in my life and I will not forfeit them for anything that this world can ever offer! I will always be there for them as long as I live. We know that God blesses a family that prays, sings, and laughs together! God does not bless a family that has strife in their homes. Only a family that Has Jesus as the center of their lives enjoy the fullness of His blessings. The Bible tells us that the righteous will never be shaken (Even as I am writing this blog, an earthquake shook our house --5.3 magnitude)! We can be confident that those who trust in the Lord will never be shaken and moved!

I pray that many more families will sing together (even praises to the Lord). I also pray for my "new friends" that God will continue to let His countenance shine upon them all the way up to Heaven when we all stand before our Lord Jesus Christ!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Speaking The Truth From Your Heart

Obviously, my blog is the expression of my experiences. That is one of my strongest character as a person--I am straightforward with my words and will never hesitate to verbalize what I feel as I speak of the truth. I have great respect for people who express themselves with the truth without trying to "please people". I guess I will never be a person who will remain silent whenever I see something that is not right.

God demands of us to be morally upright, and in the first chapter of the book of Psalm, he gives us specific standards to determine how we are doing. We live in a world with people whose standards and morals are deteriorating. Our standards for living should come from God, not from our evil society. Consider what the Psalmist said in verse 2; He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart ...( May live and dwell in God's sanctuary).

We are to speak the truth from our hearts! This means even if you find yourself alone standing for what is true. I have lost family and friends because of my boldness of speech when it comes to what I believe is right. I will never compromise what I know is right even if I have to lose friends. I could never be a people- pleaser. There is nothing in the Bible that tells us to please people. What it teaches us is to "please God." In the pursuit of peace with others, people-pleasing must have no place in our lives. Yes, we are to continue to do good, but not to the extent of doing what you know is not right just to please others.

Quite honestly, I am very happy where the Lord has placed me and my family. I decided to be an evangelist-pastor focusing on introducing Jesus to those who are lost and hurting. Now, I am free to proclaim the Word of God and preach it the way Jesus would if he were here today. As we read the Bible, the ministry of Jesus in particular, you will find that Jesus has offended many of his listeners. He was direct and straightforward in his words and teachings, no wonder he was "misunderstood." So, if you feel that you are often misunderstood, you are not alone!

Speak the truth from your heart and have no slander on your tongue. Do your friends and others no wrong. Refuse to slander (correcting and rebuking what is wrong is not slander), and keep your promises because he who does these things will "never be shaken!"

Opinions Versus Facts

Everybody has the right to their own opinions--nobody has the right to their own facts.All of us can excercise our freedom to express our opinion about anything but it does not necessarily mean we have the right to our own facts. An opinion is completely different from a fact. Facts are verifyablle; something that has actual existence having objective reality. On the other hand, an opinion is about one's view or judgment formed in the mind about a particular matter or event.

Some people will try to control you with their own opinions about you and if you submit to it the result can be devastating. Do you know of somebody who has the nerve to frankly tell you what he or she thinks about you? How you respond is very important especially when the confrontation is no longer comfortable to bear. You see, there are people who are really good at manipulating others with what they call their "opinion". Their agenda is to tear you down and steal your peace;something they do not have!They will talk to you in the guise of a "friendly advise" but their true motive is to control and devastate you. Be careful with the craftiness and smooth schemes of people around us. Much more, be careful with people you allow to enter into your life!

Proverbs 12:20 tells us,"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Very true! I believe this words of wisdom applies to friendships, the people around us, and with good reason. As I explained earlier, our friends and people we hang out with affect us tremendously. Be careful whom you consider as your intimate friends or business associates. We and our friends will surely grow to resemble each other.

Before you run and listen to the opinions of others especially about your personal problems, think twice! We go first to our friends for advise because we think that they will accept us and agree with us, that is why we find out that they are not able to help us with our difficult problems. Like us, they do not have any answers we haven't already heard. What you would like to do is to seek out older, credible, and wise people to give us counsel. We need to talk to Godly people who can warn us of the dangers and pitfalls ahead. Don't listen to the advises of people who can't help themselves. Sometimes the negative opinions of other people about you is about "jealousy". Some people just cannot stand to see you happy. They want you to feel, look and think miserable as they are.

Listen to what is true and factual. Ignore the people whose full time job is going around slandering and maligning the character and reputation of thers. The Bible teaches us to stay away from them (again, not hate them) and refuse to let them influence and affect our lives. We are to love them but we should never allow them to control our decisions and choices we make in life. We need not try to defend ourselves from those who slander and gossip us because doing so will only be futile. Instead,commit your frustrations and disappointments to the God of all comfort. God is our Defender and Vindicator. He surely is the only Way because there is no other way!