Dear Friend,

You’ve heard me mention this before, that the devil has been trying to kill me for a long time now. And you might have thought to yourself, “that is just too fantastic.” But what I’ve said is neither an exaggeration nor a fantasy, my friend. It is but the simple truth.

As a child of God, I am assured of my Father’s protection. But this doesn’t stop the enemy from trying to destroy me: the near accidents while I’m driving, the nightmares I sometimes have, and even the continual spiritual attacks against my faith. You see, my friend, it is not necessary that I die physically; being permanently incapacitated because of doubts or by other concerns is enough. For as long as I could do nothing to upset his plans, the devil will be happy and content to let me be.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…. — John 10:10 ESV

The truth is, every Christian who is serious about fulfilling God’s call and will in his or her life is on the devil’s wanted list. I am no different. In fact, I believe that I’m not only on his wanted list, but also on his most-hated list.

I will not deny it, my friend, nor will I hide it from you, but ever since I fell in love with Jesus many years ago I’ve already known that he has great plans for me. I know that he will use me someday, in a global scale. My talents and my gifts, and the way my life has been, especially my time of preparation in the wilderness, have all confirmed this. Now, what those future plans exactly are I really cannot say, and I don’t like to think much about them anyway. All I know for sure, for now, is that for the next several years while I’m still here in my local church, I have to rebuild my life, become the best preacher I can be, and be involved in the various ministries that our church has, especially in Bible studies and outreaches. I also need to be prepare myself as a Christian writer for hire, because I am seeing that as my livelihood in the coming years.

I am telling you these things, my friend, not to boast about them, but to give you a picture of what the future holds for me. Because being chosen like this means that much is also being asked from me: I am going to spend much of life in spiritual warfare. There will be a bounty of blessings, yes, as a reward, but there will also be much sacrifices on my part and on those people who surround me (and will surround me). People like you, my friend.

This is the last letter of this series, and today I will talk about — not of the far and unclear future — but of the near and immediate future that we all can see and anticipate. I will also talk about hope, and I will give you one last peek into my recent trials. And then I’m going to leave you with this one charge: My friend, take care of my heart.

* * *

There is no question about it: I’ve made a big leap in my spiritual growth these past several months because of the intensity of my trials — a change so significant that I now feel a completely different person. You also can tell that this is true, can’t you, my friend?

And yet, there is no reason to feel proud about this. God’s standards are so high, that whenever I measure myself against them I only see my need to grow up more. The truth is, my eyes are already set on those high mountains that I still need to climb, that I barely see where I am now or the things I’ve already accomplished. And I think that that is what God wants for me — to look ahead, to forge ahead, and to be not satisfied with who I am now and my situation — because these next few years of my life are so critical in the success of my future that I simply can’t afford to be at ease.

I won’t go into the details, my friend. I’ve already mentioned above my immediate goals, and you can already reason out the many things I need to do. There are a couple of things I want to emphasize though. First is that I need to get on track, as soon as possible, towards rebuilding my life. That is, I need to find a new job with enough salary; so that I’ll have the resources to serve God all the more, especially when I finally become involved in missions and outreaches; so that I’ll have the capital to set up my own business of freelance writing (if this is indeed God’s will for me); and so that I’ll be ready to provide for and to start my own family when the time comes.

The second is that I’ll be doing a lot of studying on my own, whenever I can find the time. Yes, there are programs already in place, and attending night classes for the next four years — coupled with practical training in actual church work — should already qualify me as a preacher in our church. However, my goal isn’t just to become a preacher, is it? And God’s plans for me are not just limited to preaching, are they?

Regardless of the plans that God has for me in the future, and regardless of whether or not writing will indeed become my livelihood, I need to prepare myself as a Christian writer — to further cultivate my achievements and my skills as a blogger — that is, to bring to its complete fullness what I’ve already been doing for God. This means strong foundations on both the Word and the doctrines, and a strong knowledge also on other areas like Christian history and apologetics.

The bottom line, my friend, is that I have a lot of work to do in the next few years, starting right now. I have my life to rebuild, and I have my future to prepare for. And you can be sure that the enemy, the devil, won’t stand idly by while I do these things. He will do everything he can to stop me, to delay me, or to derail me. And you can be sure also that he will concentrate his attacks on where he can do the most damage: on these hopes that I hold in my heart.

My friend, you may remember what I said in one of my previous posts, that I’d come close to dying. This is what I said in that prayer:

“Because that is exactly what my trials had been: my hopes for a blessed life here on earth thrown into the fire.

“Because without those hopes — hopes that are based on my faith in you — I am as good as dead. A soldier emptied of belief. A fighter emptied of heart.

“My faith has been tested to the utmost! This is the truth. And I also nearly died, so close I was to falling into that chasm of broken faith and destroyed hopes.”

In the Bible, in the Book of Job, we have these two accounts where God had allowed Satan to test Job. In the first test, Job’s properties and children were taken away from him. And in the second test, Job was afflicted with horrible sores.

In my own life, there had been three separate trials where God had also allowed Satan to test me like he did with Job. The first one occurred in 2004, soon after I fell in love with Jesus. The second one happened in 2006, when I was in the process of surrendering my life to God for the first time: to serve him and to follow him wherever he leads me. And the third one encompassed my recent trials: when God was leading me and planting me in my church, and when I was making my service commitments, especially in becoming a preacher.

In all of these tests, the devil had only one goal: to utterly destroy my faith in God, with the last test resolutely focused on attacking my hopes for the future. Yes, and so you could say then, my friend — that is, if you do accept that God has great plans for me — that the fate of the entire world had hung in the balance during these trials of mine.

Mind-blowing, isn’t it? Especially if you consider the fact that God had been confident that I would pass these tests with flying colors.

O Lord God, O Father in heaven, who am I that you would entrust me with so much…?

* * *

My friend, there is one thing I’d like you to remember: I had passed the first and second tests on my own, but I couldn’t have passed the third test without you — without you praying for me, listening to me, supporting me, and simply being my friend. And so I say again — thank you. Thank you very much.

Anyway, you know the hopes that I now hold in my heart. Hopes that I had given up. But hopes that have been given back to me in the end, and multiplied. Friends. Love. Family. A prosperous life while I serve our Lord. For God has promised blessings to all those who are faithful to him, and I am claiming that promise.

My friend, these hopes are the ones that give me the energy and the passion to pursue God’s will for my life. Yes, I can always set my eyes on my eternal rewards, but I also need these hopes, and I need them to come to pass in this lifetime. Like I told you, much is being asked from me, and I can’t imagine living the rest of my life toiling bereft of these blessings. Bereft of passion and power. Bereft of hope and joy. And I’m sure that God doesn’t want my life to be like that either.

But the enemy… but the devil wants my life to be like that. More, he wants me dead.

Prayerfully, I am hoping that there won’t be any more major battles any time soon. I am hoping that God would allow me to rebuild and settle my life before leading me into another direct confrontation with Satan. But I can’t trust in that. And so I need to be on my guard always. We need to be on our guard always.

My friend, I trust you. I trust you that you will resist the devil whenever he tries to get to me through you. For you are inside my defenses. You are inside that place in my heart where you can see up-close my hopes and my love for God burning brightly. And so you possess the power to hurt me, if you choose to do so. To hurt me so bad that I might never be able to stand up again. That is how you are to me, my friend.

And so I am giving you this charge: Take care of my heart. Take care of my hopes. For I’ve known what it’s like to have someone I trust shoot the very arrows that pierced my heart. That’s when I nearly died, except that you were there for me, my friend. You were there for me. You were there for me.

I am burying my past. And this is the last shovelful of dirt that I’m laying on top of it. This is goodbye. And this is forever.

But this isn’t a goodbye to you, my friend. Our journey together has only just begun. Our journey to forever.



Dear Friend,

In one of our counseling talks, my mentor said to me, because I never had a love relationship before, that I’m only just in my adolescent stage when it comes to romantic love. Ouch.

Well, I had a girlfriend once, before I became a Christian, but it was only through text messaging and we never met in person, and so that didn’t count as a real relationship.

There is truth to what my mentor said, I admit that, and during that time, given the context of the situation that I was going through, it was what I needed to hear. But now, a few weeks later, I have more things to say on the matter. Yeah, who’s there who wouldn’t have anything more to say when confronted by something like that?

My friend, this is what I want to talk about with you today, the bigger and more complete picture of my situation that is behind my mentor’s statement. Because if you accept it just like that, without further explanations, then it would imply that — while I’ve been maturing greatly in other areas — the part of my heart that deals with love, either for my friends or for that special someone, has been left behind.

The truth is, my love is not that of an adolescent. It is as mature as the rest of my heart… and as mature as the love I have for God. It is just that I never had much chances before to express this kind of love. Yes. The real issue here, my friend, is control. Not maturity or anything like that. And having this control is much more difficult for me than most people, because, well, you already know why, my friend. For how do I control the ocean of my loving feelings so that the people who are the object of my affections are not overwhelmed — not swept away by the tidal wave of my love? Yeah, I told you I’m deep.

My friend, I have learned my lessons well from all the rejections I received. I know that my love is deep, there is no denying this fact, and that girls got scared when they caught a glimpse of just how deep it is. Unfathomable. Unknowable. Just like God’s. Before I fell in love with Jesus, and before he filled my heart with his own love for me, my love was coupled with a great need so deep also that had made girls ran away twice faster.

I’ve learned since then that only God could have satisfied my deepest emotional needs. I’ve also learned what it means to be truly satisfied in him alone. And yet, God doesn’t want me to spend my life here on earth alone. My desire for a partner remains, and my love remains as deep as ever.

But I have indeed learned my lessons very well: I know that I’m not an easy man to love. This is why, for a long time, that part of my heart where love and God dwell has been mostly under lock and key. Sealed away. Dammed up. And I also had this belief that whoever is destined to be my wife has to be someone very special — someone who can withstand the force of my love when it is finally released.

Well, I realize now that without God’s intervention my love would have been imprisoned forever. Because no such person exists. Because no one can withstand such a force of nature. No one can withstand an ocean of loving feelings.

My friend, I used to have this picture in my mind: I see myself looking down into a blacksmith’s forge, where God is busily working on my heart and soul — purifying me, tempering me, and shaping me with his hammer blows. But because of the smoke and the fire from the furnace, I couldn’t see clearly what God is doing to me. I could only see glimpses of the person I’m becoming.

I know that God will never stop working on me — never stop perfecting me until I become like his Son, Jesus — but I think that he has been ready to show to the world the masterpiece he has created in me so far. But how to do that? How could he release something that he alone can withstand and control? If my love is simply overwhelming to people, how could he open the door to my heart so that the resulting damage is as little as possible?

The truth is, I did not even know if I could open my own heart. So afraid was I already of another rejection because I couldn’t control my own emotions.

Applying another metaphor: Like in the life cycle of a butterfly, my own life has been undergoing metamorphosis. And now I’m nearly an adult, nearly ready to spread my wings and to fly away, but how do I break free from the chrysalis that still binds me? The answer, my friend, is to struggle.

And this is indeed what God has provided in my recent trials: a struggle to set my heart free. And he has also made sure that there are people around me who could withstand my emotions as they were released — people who could understand me and the process I was undergoing — people who have also known the deep love of God — my church.

My friend, I know, from the tidbits of information I’ve been giving you — in these letters and in my other blog posts — that you’d like to know more about these trials I went through. Unfortunately, for some reasons (privacy among them), I can’t talk about them with you, not in the way you want. Besides, these trials already belong in the past, and the past, as you know, I’m already burying.

Suffice it to say (again), that it was through the pain brought by a broken friendship (and by a love that I did not want to give, and had not given) that God has opened the floodgates of my heart.

* * *

There are a couple of things I want to make clear to you, my friend. One is that everything that has happened to me these past several months cannot be told in a single linear story (there are still many things about it that I do not know and will never know), or cannot be explained from a single point of view. So much had happened. Other people were involved. And God has had so many purposes in these events that the opening of my heart was only one of them.

There’s only one thing I can say about it: Only God, in his almightiness and in his infinite knowledge and creativity, could have brought about such events and such results.

The other thing I want to make clear to you is that when I speak about my emotions being deep, I speak mostly about my love. Because except for my anger, which I still struggle to control sometimes, I don’t have much problems with my other kinds of emotions.

Okay, now that you know all this, the question now is, how am I doing today in regard to my emotions?

I’m doing fine actually, my friend. I have moved on from all that happened, and generally I’m in control of my feelings — though I will always be a passionate man. This will never change. Yes, some people may see me as someone who is easily angered, or as someone who is argumentative, or as someone who is just too expressive of his thoughts and feelings… but all that is just my passion talking. All that is just the real me talking. For I wouldn’t be an artist, and I wouldn’t be a writer if I’m not passionate about things.

To end this letter, I’d like to give you this picture in your mind. I’ve been saying that my emotions, my love, are like the ocean. Well, I don’t see now my emotions like that. Because I now have friends in the church, and because I’m now finding new ways to release my emotions in my service to God… I see now my love as a large lake that gives birth to many rivers.

And like real lakes and real rivers, may my love give life to all those who are touched by it. Amen?

Goodbye, my friend, until my next letter to you. I’m not finished yet :)



Dear Friend,

In my last letter I’ve started telling you, in a concise way, the significant and defining experiences that happened in my life. I’m sure that you would like to know more than just the short account I’m giving you, but like I told you, my friend, I really don’t want to talk about my past anymore. What I’m doing is only setting the stage for the things that I do want to talk about.

In this letter I’ve planned to tell you about my past ten years, starting from the time of my first surrender to Jesus of my life (November 2006) and ending in the time I got my present job (November 2016), which was, in turn, the beginning of the short but eventful journey of finding myself where I am today.

Well, my friend, I’m sorry to tell you (again), but I’ve changed my mind about this. I will no longer write about my past ten years. And that is not because I don’t want to, but because I cannot. That is, I’ve realized that I cannot write about this most important period in my life in just a few paragraphs, even if what I want is only a kind of summary. My mind simply cannot comprehend the wholeness of my experience of walking with God during this time. For I was alone in the wilderness with him, alone in the desert of want with my God. So much had happened. So much had not happened. And so many things I learned… and unlearned.

Suffice it to say, my friend, that is was a time of preparation for me, and a time of growing up. A time especially for maturing in my faith, and for practicing in listening to and following his voice.

Instead, today I’m going to talk about a particular topic, which is something that has happened to me while I was in the wilderness. My friend, in my last letter I mentioned that I have always thought of myself as an old man. Well, I seldom think of myself now as an old man. I still think deep, yes, and I still feel deep, and I had experienced great pains and sufferings that had matured me unnaturally. But I see now my depth as a gift, and I see now those bad experiences as preparations for my ministry works.

Because this is one of the many things I’ve learned in all those years of waiting on God and of walking with him — how to be his child.

My friend, I’m not an old man. I’m a child of God who has learned to depend on my Father for everything in my life.

* * *

I used to be proud, my friend. So proud. I was a loner, yes, and I never belonged to any circles; nevertheless, I was proud. Proud of my intelligence. Proud of my abilities. Proud even of my difference. I also had these soaring ambitions that had blinded me to realities. (The reality especially that I was not that intelligent, or that talented.)

When I look back now, I can only shake my head and mutter, “Foolish boy!”

Even in my planned works for God (when I was already a Christian) I was proud and ambitious. I used to imagine raking in millions of pesos as people sat amazed by my writings. Yeah right.

And so this was one of the purposes of my time in the wilderness: to destroy my pride and to bring me down, and to teach me humility and dependence. Ten years of my life being broken have made sure that I’ve learned these lessons very, very well.

My friend, the truth is I no longer have any confidence in myself. Not in my intelligence, not in my talents, not in my physical appearance. The world says, “Believe in yourself!” But I say, “Believe in God, and trust in him alone.”

All these blessings that I’m receiving now? They are all because of God, and not because of me or anything that I’ve done.

And all of my hopes for the future? They will all come to pass because of God, and not because of me or anything that I will do.

Friends? Love? Church? Finances? I could not find these things on my own. Why would now be any different? Only God can give me (or has given me) these things.

For this is how my life operates now: I serve God, and he serves me. I give him my life, and he blesses me.

My friend, there is much more in being a child of God, but this is, I believe, its core concept: being humble before God, and being dependent on him for everything.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. — James 4:10 ESV

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. — Proverbs 22:4 ESV

Recently I had written an essay that tells of my decision to become a preacher, one especially who will go out to proclaim God’s Word to the people. For that to happen, I said that I am utterly depending on God’s grace and on the help of my church, because that is something I can never achieve on my own. My friend, this is an example of me being a child — submitting my life to God and to those who are older than me in the faith. My life is an open book to them, especially to my mentor, and I often ask for prayers, aware of my own needs and weaknesses.

Pride? I hate pride. And I earnestly pray that I never go back to the way I was. And all the incentive I need to prevent that from happening is the reminder that, no matter how spiritually mature I become, I still continually fail my Lord because of my lingering sins, and because of my humanity.

Becoming like Jesus Christ more and more. This is the goal of every Christian. And this is, in reality, a paradox. I need to grow and mature more and more, and at the same time, I need to remain ever a child. Ever dependent. Ever open. Ever willing to be taught and be corrected.

Yes, sometimes I do regret that my time of waiting and preparation had taken ten years. I’m turning 34 in a few days, and my life, for all practical purposes, is only just beginning to take off. Sometimes I wonder that if God had not delayed for so long to take me to where I should be… then my life would have been already well-established by now. I would already have a family of my own, and hopefully, a thriving ministry also.

But then, my life would be much different than it is now… and I would be a much different person too. And surely, I wouldn’t have these hopes for the future that I have now in my heart.

Yes, sometimes I do regret. But most of the times… I love my life, I love my future, and I love myself!

And so the stage is set. In my next letter to you, my friend, I will begin making clear to you why I’ve called this series of letters Take Care of My Heart. Goodbye until then.



Dear Friend,

I’ve just read my last letter to you, the one I wrote nearly ten months ago, where I told you of my intention to write about the things that happened in my past.

Well, first, I apologize, for not following through with what I planned. You could say that the ship that I’d been waiting for had unexpectedly came for me, while I was still struggling with what to write about next. And so now, at long last, I’m in my promised land, and I’ve also already settled in, and that metaphorical seaport where I wrote you that letter is already a distant memory.

Second, I want to say to you that I will not take up where I left off, that is, I’ve now permanently changed my mind about that project. I’ve done this for two reasons. One is that, except for the occasional references to my past experiences, I simply no longer want to talk about my past, much less dig deep into it. My future awaits, and that is where my eyes will be gazing at. To look forward, and not behind. Maybe someday, if God wants me to write my own autobiography, I will reconsider, but for now and in the foreseeable future, I won’t be looking back.

The other reason is that I’m a different person now, much different from the man I was only ten months ago, and it is now pointless to me to continue the work of someone who longer exists — someone who is already dead. This present me has more important things to do and to say than to remember.

However, before I bury my past for good, there are still some important matters that I want to talk about with you, my friend, in this letter and the next few. As you already know, so much has happened in my life these past several months, and there are still issues that I want to settle or make clear to you — so that I will be as unburdened as possible while I pursue my future.

But before I begin talking, let me first thank you, with all of my heart, for listening to me, for advising me, for praying for me, and especially, for being my friend — while I was drowning in my pains.

* * *

I have always thought, because of the way God has made me, and because of the way my life has been, that I’m just too old for my age. An old man in a young man’s body: this is how I used to picture myself.

Well, my friend, you already know that I’m a deep person. This isn’t surely an original description, but my emotions are like the ocean, and my thoughts the sky. You also probably remember what I wrote before, that I’m a repressed artist of words, because I was never given real opportunities, nor was I encouraged by my family to express this creative and emotional side of me.

Growing up then, as could be expected from this situation, had been tough for me, to say the least. Because of my depth, and because of my lack of healthy expression, I was difficult to understand, and I was even scary — I never had real friends, nor had I known love. In other words, I was a social outcast and a loner, rejected by my peers and girls alike.

Furthermore, my relationships with my family were disappointing. True, we are better off than many families, but we were never close enough with each other. We had so few of those personal and intimate talks. I also had not known true fathering from my father, nor true mothering from my mother.

Even my Christian walk that had started about 17 years ago, during my first year in college, has been far from ideal. A botched up evangelism had turned me from an eager seeker into a nearly atheist: the existence of God the only thing I could not deny. What followed was a hard time of solitary searching, amidst the pains of destroyed faith.

And when I did fall in love with Jesus, I had no one to talk to about it — no one to share my joy with — because I was outside his body, his family of true believers. But coming back to my old church had only earned me even more rejections: I was a Catholic, and my love and passion for Jesus went unrecognized and was out of place in that place.

And so when I surrendered my life to God — to serve him and to follow him wherever he leads me — I had no support. There was no one to provide for my financial, emotional, and spiritual needs as a servant of the Lord Jesus. And my future was as dark as it could be. I had forsaken my dreams and my ambitions, and my family’s dreams and ambitions for me. They were angry and hurt, and they persecuted me: I was thought to be the biggest failure in the world. For they paid the cost of my obedience to God by having their dreams destroyed, while I paid the cost of it by enduring their attacks… and the pains, and the shame.

Not everyone could understand and accept this, my friend, what I had done, but I’m glad that you are one of those who do. There were those who said to me that I should have prioritized my family over God — that I should have fulfilled their dreams first before answering his call. I also understand that God does not ask this kind of sacrifice from everyone. But he did ask this kind of sacrifice from me: to prove to him that I love him above all. Even above my own family, whom I also love so much.

My friend, I will stop here for now. Writing about these things is a struggle for me, and honestly, I only have a vague idea of where all this is going… or how it’s gonna end. This is a journey of exploration into the depths of my thoughts and feelings, and such a journey requires care and time, and lots of prayer.

In my next letter to you I’ll write about my past ten years, my sojourn in the wilderness and the desert. Goodbye until then.



For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
— Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
— Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

Dear God,

Your love for me is the wellspring of my courage, and your faithfulness the one reason why my battle-scarred heart remains open — to shine, to love, to hope.

And so they had been only tests, my Lord, and not really meant to happen — most of your leadings and most of the hopes you had given me that had defined my actions and my decisions in these recent trials of my life.

Mga pagsubok lang pala. At hindi naman talagang nakatakdang mangyari o magkatotoo.

For as you had tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice to you his promised and long-awaited son… you too have tested me by telling me to do what I did not want to do — and that is, to love someone I did not want to love — and therefore had made me surrender to you the hopes I held most dear.

I can barely imagine, O God, the emotional turmoil that Abraham went through as he contemplated killing his own son for you, but I don’t have to imagine the turmoil that I went through because of my own act of obedience and faith: It was as if I’d been marked for assassination, with my enemy intent on destroying every piece and every shred of hope that I had.

Because that is exactly what my trials had been: my hopes for a blessed life here on earth thrown into the fire.

Because without those hopes — hopes that are based on my faith in you — I am as good as dead. A soldier emptied of belief. A fighter emptied of heart.

My faith has been tested to the utmost! This is the truth. And I also nearly died, so close I was to falling into that chasm of broken faith and destroyed hopes. But because of your love for me, O God, and because of your faithfulness to me, and because also of the people you have brought into my life — my friends who have loved me and supported me — I have remained standing. I have remained steadfast in my faith. I have remained strong until the end.

And my Lord, my ever faithful God, as you had rewarded Abraham for his faith by blessing him beyond measure, and by giving back to him his son, you too are now rewarding me for my faith by blessing me beyond measure also — and by giving back to me the hopes I had surrendered to you. Hopes that are now multiplied a thousand times.

A church where I belong to. Friends who love me. And new and wonderful hopes for my future. These are your blessings and rewards to me, O Lord.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! — Psalm 34:8 ESV

Truly, dear God, your thoughts and your ways are much higher than mine. And truly also, you do know your plans for my life, as you have declared in your Word. Thank you, Father, for these burning hopes that I now hold in my hands, in my heart, in my mind.

And now I am asking you: May this time in my life be another new beginning for me, and may everything that had happened these past several months be buried now in the past — to be hidden from sight and from memory, to be forgotten.

I praise you, Lord. I adore you, O God. And I worship you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.