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Thursday, November 1, 2012

On Dragon City


KJ, my 10 year old nephew is crazy about Dragon City. No he's not crazy, he is obsessed. He would attempt to wake up at 1 AM just to collect some reward or do whatever he can to be another step closer to getting a better dragon. Now I'm rolling my eyes. I have to remind him that there is life beyond it and I'd be happier to take him to a zoo full of dragons than let him play in the middle of the night. 

Hearing him share his achievements in the game is like hearing a politician sharing a vision. Once, I found him youtubing about drgaons while listing on a tiny piece of paper the dragons he desires to possess.

What a passion. 

I wish it was somebody else's who has the power to change the world. I wish it was not to achieve something in the virtual realm, but in the real one. I wish his diligence were of those who have been called to fulfill a good purpose. I wish KJ would not only be crazy about dragons in cyberspace but would be a dragon himself in real life - one that would fight to get rewards, to work to become better. 

I hope someday, he will play games to ultimately win in life, not to forget it and build his own.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Why Jesus didn't Spit Back



When Jesus was crushed, pierced, slapped and spat on the face, He could have crushed, pierced, slapped and spat back. No effort cause he is the omnipotent God. When challenged by that thief on his right to prove his deity, He could have put him and everyone else to shame by miraculously getting off the cross and heal his wounds right then and there. He could have chosen to transform gloriously and shine with majesty - glorious, famous, powerful, mighty - BUT not a savior, a redeemer, a healer. 

Jesus chose shame over fame, death over life to save the very people that condemned him. It is one thing to die for someone who loves you. It is another to die for those who hate you and want you dead. God chose to be blind to our hatred so that He can eventually win our hearts back. 

Out of that choice He made about 2000 years ago, God has provided a way for us to reach out to Him. Now, there shouldn't be no groping in the dark about how to please God enough to get to HEAVEN. The answer has been around for more than 2000 years. 

We can spend eternity with Him if we place our faith in the salvation that Jesus offers. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Choose well



Choose the one you will enter wedlock with
The one you will love forever..
For into this path,
There is no turning back
No u-turns, no pit stops
For the word: ‘Leave your father and mother and you will be one’ is true
You will be ONE
His character will blend with yours
Your habits will influence his
Your mindsets will merge and find a common place to settle
If they cannot agree, they will clash
No ONENESS can happen and you are better off alone
Your ways will fit together like puzzle pieces..
Like coffee and hot water
Water and water color
Oil and canvas
You and him as ONE will form another force, another personality, another being
This oneness has the potential to make or break…
To choose is to create a future and shape destiny
To build a generation, to prepare for eternity
Choose the one you will enter wedlock with
For through good and bad times, you have to stay
Otherwise, WEDLOCK you shouldn’t have entered

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On Prayer


As Christians, we are constantly taught and reminded to pray. Prayer is supposed to be the backbone of any ministry. And so we like to list things and even place dates as to when we want to see them answered. We ask other people's prayer requests and assure them we would intercede. It is therefore important to understand what it means to pray.

God can listen to any kind of prayer - angry, impulsive, depressed, joyful, demanding and if we are His children, we can go to Him with complete confidence regardless of our words, our mood and our intention. But regardless of any negative emotion attached to it, be it against others or God himself, we ought to see ourselves letting our guards down on Him in the end. We can express disappointment on the onset but just like King David, we ought to turn our sighs into songs of praise - a redemptive kind of grieving. 

We have a list of prayer concerns in mind and we recite them to Him. Sometimes this is what we ought to do but prayer first of all is talking with God, not just reporting to Him. We must therefore be sensitive to His direction. After all, we are His bride - expected to submit to His leading. We approach God with our problems and demand from Him as if we are the "omnipotent" and not He. Sometimes all that He wants is our awareness of His presence or our remembrance of His goodness. Sometimes His way of solving our problems is not to change our circumstances or other people - but to change our heart and attitude towards them.  

To pray is not just to utter - it is to rest. It is not only to tell - but to be affirmed. To pray is not only the means to the answer - most of the time, it is the answer. 


One Step Forward


People go through life often mindless. Our head often hurts and think what we need is aspirin - to shun the noise, to relieve the pain. We watch a movie or a series of movies to achieve resolution - to mend the unresolved issues of life. Still we get off the couch and let go of the popcorn bowl restless, troubled and hurt. We play games and try to win them - to virtually turn our defeats into victories, to make ourselves believe that there is such thing as winning and it's within grasp. We plug phones into our ears - regardless of the bacteria build up, we feel urged to listen to music; in fact, any sound to fill the silence. 

Thanks to technology, we can now hear many voices at the same time. A post, a tweet, a video, a text, a call, an email. Gone are the days when it's hard to reach out. We reach out because we feel lost. 

We reach out but still we feel alone. We are lost in the midst of our friends' laughters. We are empty in the midst of the haste. We are shock absorbers of everyday failures, of unmet expectations, of relentless family feuds, of unjust government leaders - of the cruel side of life. 

Perhaps what we need is a time to get away - to escape for awhile and stop hearing voices, even those of whom we know so well. Perhaps we are taking mere aspirin for cancer and we don't even know it. Maybe what we need is a time to hear nothing - nothing but natural noise: footsteps, falling twigs or fruit on the roof and dogs barking. Perhaps what we need is a time to take a long shower, eat alone or cherish the smell of our favorite cologne. 

Many of us end up at a dead-end not because we were too lazy to get going, but that we didn't take time to realize if our path is right. 

Many of us can't make another step forward not because we stopped but because we didn't. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Metamorphosis




It is innate in every man to dream for a greater future, a better world, a better place to live in. We build systems to improve our lifestyle, stabilize our ways and regulate our activities – all for a greater future. We spend millions and a lot of minutes devising ways to rehabilitate them, to understand how they can best cater to the changing and worsening state of mankind. We stay awake and get up before the sun rises to prepare for meetings, conferences that will teach us new techniques to make life easier, happier, less painful, more meaningful – to build a greater future. We have better technology and can talk with a stranger on the other side of the world just by a click and a tap. We recreate fashion, revive songs, remodel things. We are working hard but we are often tired and restless – because we want a greater future.

Still the world remains an empty, broken place with people with wicked, twisted schemes. The technologies made to connect actually divide. The systems made to stabilize make us unstable. Do our systems, investments, technologies, conferences really take us one step closer to a brighter tomorrow? Could it be that we have spent so much time on things but less with people? That we have focused on objects and not subjects, that we have built systems, but not relationships? Could it be that our means have become our ends and that our ways are defeating our purpose?

If according to the Bible, it’s only God’s word and the souls of men that will endure forever then why do we let lives ebb away? If indeed this is true, then our focus should be on life, on relationships and on people. Our goal should be to keep changing every day as we allow others to do the same – to transform to better versions of ourselves. If we are changed individuals, is a transformed society so far away? If for example one man is transformed, is it far-fetched for him to influence an entire family, tribe or nation to change? I am strongly convinced that the greatest persons that ever lived are not those who had flawless personalities – no, they were imperfect people who embraced transformation and ultimately laid stones of foundation for a better tomorrow, not just for themselves but for others.

According to Alexander Pope, “The way of the Creative works through change and transformation, so that each thing receives its true nature and destiny and comes into permanent accord with the Great Harmony: this is what furthers and what perseveres.” There is indeed a destiny that awaits each person that if fulfilled by each individual would build not necessarily the perfect society but a much better one. Humans are not perfect and never will be, but the aim of each one should be that when they have come out victorious from a life-changing moment, and have acquired and internalized another pebble of truth, that they make this flow to society and leave it to others. This is what it means to have “a great future”.

There are therefore moments we need to reflect on, events and situations we need to analyze, people we need to spend time with and people we need to let go. There are answers we need to hear and questions we need to ask. How do you spend most of your time? What books do you read and movies do you watch? Who do you spend your weekends with? How do you nourish yourselves and protect yourselves from corruption? When did you last learn a lesson and changed your attitude and behavior? Answer these questions and you will see if you are indeed helping to build a greater future.

To do so is to transform lives – to pay attention to metamorphosis in people rather than things, to strive for the development of the human character rather than technology. Whatever niche we play in life, we have the power to change and inspire change. Our ipod and ipad should therefore connect us, not isolate us – connect to inspire, connect to encourage. Our flat screen should ultimately build us and not just entertain us – build a better character, ignite our highest potential. Our DVD should bring our family together, and not set them apart – together in learning, together in transforming. We ought to stop becoming slaves to the fruit of our labor and begin to master them by seeing them only as tools. Life first before things. Heart first before the hand. One person, one day at a time. (by Jill Christianae A. Rendon)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Walk on Water


Life is full of choices. It could be a crossroads moment when there are just too many options. Sometimes, the choice has to be made after a smooth-sailing ride, a boat ride for example. When you are out canoeing one fine peaceful day - happy and content, suddenly, a voice tells you to step out of the boat and walk on water.

Walk on water?!! Are you kidding me? When I was a child, the family went island hopping. The blue waters, the white fluffy clouds brushed on the blue sky were perfect. We rode on a motorized boat and I was just grinning the whole time. We stopped by this light house in the middle of the sea where the water was deep enough for ferries to pass by. The host family friend asked us to jump and enjoy swimming.. I froze right there like a cat hit by lightning. I was scared. Didn't want to get out of the boat.

But I have changed. I am less scared now. I now go snorkeling and kayaking and would love to try other water sports as well.

When it comes to making choices though, I still get scared at times especially when it means no turning back. These are crucial moments when my decision will change not just my life forever, but the lives of my children, hence, the destiny of mankind.

Every time I hear a voice that defines this crucial moment, I ask this very important question first: "Who is calling me to go there?"

This is a lesson learned from Matthew 14:22-33 when Jesus invited Peter to come to him by walking on the water and Peter had to ask Jesus if it was really him calling. Once Jesus confirmed, Peter stepped out of the boat and started walking.

It is a big deal to me to notice that Jesus was calling Peter to "come" (v.29).. He didn't say "go". And as an English teacher, I clearly know the difference between those two verbs. This is indeed one of the powerful accounts in the Gospel for me as it proves that God wants me to find Him through whatever walking-on-water experience I go through. He wants me to see Him at the end of the tunnel. He wants me to find Him ready with a bottle of water after I went out biking. He wants me to see Him with a banquet after I won an award.

God does not intend to throw stones and make crazy ripples in my peaceful pond or blow my bubbles because he wants me to drown. He does so for my good - but most of all, to draw me closer to Him.

Life is full of choices and sometimes the only choice if I am to obey God is to step out of my boat. But now I know that I can always walk on water even those with sharks beneath them as long as "God" is the answer to my question: "Who is calling me?"







Sunday, July 22, 2012

When Jesus Swerved



I like it when I am reached out to. Who doesn’t? By God’s grace, I have been helped by many people in many ways. But the kinds that left footprints in my heart are those that cost a lot to the one who did it. We all want to feel special and the moments I feel that I am are those when someone did something just for me, for my sake and good - not just taking me home because they’re heading in the same way; not just giving me stuff because they don’t need it anymore. Of course, these things are a blessing but you get what I mean.

Today, some incident made me feel unimportant and I will spare you the details. On my way home, I tried to recall one event the Bible might have about God paying particular interest in individuals, and God brought to mind the story of the woman at the well.

In that story, found in John chapter 4, it was clearly stated that Jesus had to go through Samaria (v.3) - taboo for a Jew to do since Jews were not supposed to associate with Samaritans. But Jesus went out of his way, broke racial barrier, disregarded social norms just to have a heart to heart talk with a woman from an outcast tribe – not just any woman, a woman with 5 husbands! Yet Jesus spared precious moments of his time telling her of the wonderful life in store for her.

That woman left the well a new person. A simple chat and her life was never the same. This is allegorical to moments when someone – no less than God himself goes out of his way to show His love, moments that instantly captivate my soul and change my life forever.

Jesus was tired from ministry that day, but he went to Samaria anyway. Samaria was out of his way, but he went there anyway. It was a path no Jew was supposed to go but he went there anyway. It was clearly out of his comfort zone but he chose that way anyway.

Every time I am tempted to feel insignificant, I should think twice and remember this account of the Bible - the day when Jesus swerved, went out of his way, didn’t care to be judged, did something out of His comfort zone just to reach out – to remind me that I am important, to make me feel that I am loved.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Extravagant God

some of the friends I met during the trip: Grace, Erika, Irene, Me, Joan and Yna


I went to Manila, my country's capital some weeks ago to do 3 things: process my passport renewal, bring home some of my stuff and get my license - sounds good enough to spend some money on. Despite my online-research-orientedness and my having friends who are passport experts, I realized the day before I was going to DFA that I couldn't do it because I didn't set an online appointment. I instantly remarked, "So what did I come here for?"

With one of the important plans cancelled, I wondered what God wanted to teach me by the experience. Instead of sulking, I chose to let it go and be happy meeting friends. As I did so, I went to and passed by significant places when I stayed there for 7 years. I passed by the building where I first worked as an English instructor, bringing back memories in a flash especially the day someone shared to me about Christ and when I decided to accept Him into my life. I realized my life has never been the same since then. I also visited my university which brought a cathartic feeling seeing those students cram with projects, at the same time a nostalgic longing for the joy of sharing intellectual thoughts in class. I passed by the area where I struggled through flood and travel hazards to and from school. I had lunch at the mall whose walls and restaurants became witnesses to my frustrations, loneliness, joys and victories. I also went to 3 other malls where I had met special friends who knows deep truths about my life, who knows my terrible mistakes but continues to lift me up and see me through.

I met several of the special people in my life - people I consider I have an authentic relationship with, people I had conflicts with before, who spoke hard truth to my face and vice versa, but who I also shared some of my deepest joys with and who journeyed with me through hard times. These are people who made life in the city not only easier but much more joyful and exciting.

At the airport's waiting area on my way back home, I met a friend's brother who offered me a cup of coffee (He may have sensed my need for some hot drink). Coffee is coffee but coffee becomes something else, like a diamond at 5:30 in the morning. Some minutes before boarding time, I met an old friend who I hadn't seen for years - the ex-boyfriend of my best friend in high school. He reminded me of my teenage years. And I will spare you the details of how insecure and inferior I was back then.

That trip had been both cathartic and nostalgic - but all together forming a feeling inside that tells me how much blessed I am for how God has guided me through the years. The free coffee reminded me of His mini surprises that warm my heart; the failed passport renewal - that everything will be okay even if our plans don't work out the way we want them. I am just glad I hadn't missed these symbols.  If God had to have me spend money just to have a feel of it, to make me feel guided and loved and cared for, He would do it. That's how extravagant He could get - in pursuit of love, in pursuit of me.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Time, People, Circumstance


I realized that not knowing what others are thinking is not only a gift from heaven but God's indispensable scheme to establish order in the world and fulfill man's destiny. I can imagine how freaked out we would often be if it were otherwise. I am talking specially about the importance of that in romantic relationships. I realized the most lovers tell their partners things that one likes to hear and avoid those that are not very pleasant. If you want to see a significant angle of some truth about them or your love for each other, eavesdrop their conversation with friends or better yet, read their diary. The truth is that there are memories, special ones etched somewhere in our hearts about certain people - and the prominence of these memories, feelings vary through time. Some die down, soften; some remain alive and stay forever. And there is no one to blame for this - this is just the way life goes.

People ending up together is a mix of chance, proper timing and the right feelings - not a matter of feelings alone. Our circumstances are orchestrated by not only emotions but decisions. It is therefore a risk to ask your partner if this or that person is still special to him or her. If you really want to know, ask God. But like I said, part of living life is not knowing everything and the system demands that we should live with it. 

If you are 80 and sitting on the porch, holding hands with the one you love, remember that God put you there not by pure feelings, but also by decisions, situations that conspired together to make it happen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Convicted Corona


Yesterday, Chief Justice Renato Corona was declared guilty of violation of Article 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which in simple words requires all public officials to declare ALL their assets, liabilities and net-worth (SALN).
         
Others say that Corona acted in good faith by not declaring his foreign accounts, by provision of the FCDU law (non-disclosure of foreign accounts). They add that this was an error in judgment on his part.

Inspired by Rep. Rodolfo Fari├▒as' defintion of culpable violation of the Constitution which is the “willful and intentional violation of the Constitution", I cannot imagine how the Chief Magistrate would overlook the sovereignty of Article 2 over the FCDU law and make them appear as 2 clashing provisions or that the latter would serve as exemption of the former. It is likewise unthinkable how one under his category would be so careless in doing so.

If we succumb to the claim that he "acted in good faith", we would make him a clumsy Chief Justice - not meticulous enough to make sure he is worth his title - but perhaps an excuse to charge him not guilty.

If we agree that it was a "culpable violation" then we would make him a dishonest Chief Justice - enough to convict him. 

We all make mistakes. I for one make a lot in a day. Intentional or unintentional. For Corona's case, however, the "acting in good faith" seems unacceptable. If it were an ordinary person who did the same "error in judgment", it would have been excusable. And so we are left with only one judgment as to the refusal of declaring his foreign accounts - culpable violation. He did it on purpose. 

He violated the law plus he is not the average Juan- He is the Chief Justice. What he did, what he did not and who he was - that convicted him. 






Thursday, May 24, 2012

Of Course He Would Win: On American Idol 11



And so Phillipp Phillipps won American Idol, season 11. Both he and Jessica have an amazing voice. But besides Phillipp's great talent and powerful performance, he's an American and I will say - of course, he would win. Philipp won over Jessica by about 132-M votes and that should not be surprising - again he is an American.

Before putting their hopes up, people should see the reality of shows like AI. It is not like Ms. Universe that places the sole responsibility of picking winners on the judges alone. Once the power to choose the winner is given to the audience via a voting system, there are a lot of other things to think about. Nationality, race, wealth, influence, money, etc.

Winning in competitions like that is not just about what you can do, but who you are, who you know and how many you know - which is why, I don't really like competitions with voting systems. Have you tried being asked by a friend to like a Facebook photo for them to win this and that? Have you tried liking anyway despite your opinion of the photo and even if you haven't seen the other photos? That is exactly what I'm talking about!

I am not saying the Americans were being racist. They were simply being supportive. It is human nature and natural instinct to root for someone who shares the same origins with you. 

Phiilip and Jessica had a close fight, but if I were an American, I would have voted for Phillip too. Had people seen it this way, there would be no need for a season finale or there could be one but with the voting system removed. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

On Gay Marriage and Manny Pacquiao



I have just recently known that Manny Pacquiao was banned from entering a mall somewhere in Hollywood: The Grove to be specific after making a remark against gay marriage, specifically Obama's move for it. This is the link to the source. I don't mean to sound clicheish but no other way to say it. This is a free world. Just as gays and lesbians can dress the way they want to in some countries, so can and should people like Manny Pacquiao voice out their opinions freely without fear of being banned from malls or badmouthed merely for an opinion. 

If truth is relative as some people would claim then this has to apply to ALL. If there is such thing as gay rights, there is also such thing as freedom of speech. If banning a gay from a mall is violating gay rights and is outright human discrimination, then banning a heterosexual from a mall is also violating rights: freedom of speech, for this matter. 

Had Pacquiao slapped a gay simply because he's gay, then I would agree he should be banned. But he just spoke out an opinion. If we are judged by every opinion we have, nobody can enter malls anymore. 

image sources:
http://www.liberalbaptistrev.com/?p=5354
http://www.mp8.ph/news/category/leo-reyes



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Third World Customer Service



I’ve been a customer service agent once. And those of you who have been one, you’ll understand the mindset I got in terms of the right kind of service customers deserve. Before this, I had been a timid customer and would shut my mouth whenever I got affected by a saleslady’s attitude problem.

The problem I noticed about Filipinos (compared with developed countries like the US, Korea, etc.) are that we are too kind. When I say that, I am not talking about Biblical humility that pleases God. I am talking about opting for complete silence to avoid trouble. We normally hate confrontation. Instead of discussing things with the concerned people, we curse them behind their backs and laugh at them with friends or badmouth about them in Facebook and Twitter.

It could be our more than 300 years of being a colony that up to now, we still have the “slave attitude”. We shut our mouth or else we’ll get into trouble. Or we simply laugh it off.

This is probably the reason why customer service is generally bad in the Philippines. Ask your foreigner friends and they could also tell you the same thing.

I will start with SMART Communications. I thought I was being kind enough by erasing the post I made on FB that expressed so much disappointment in their service; I thought it’d be much better if I emailed them and so I did. Someone (I just hope it was a person who did it, not some computer-generated system) replied, asking for my mobile number. And now I’m rolling my eyes. That was the last I heard from them. I felt neglected and unimportant. SMART is the “largest network in the Philippines”.

I went to buy some prepaid cards at Cell Depot at Island City Mall. I am sometimes paranoid so when I saw that the plastic wrapper of the card was torn at the side, I asked for a replacement (thinking it shouldn’t be much trouble). And I told her I was just following what was written on the back, “DO NOT ACCEPT THIS CARD IF THE PLASTIC WRAPPER IS TORN OR HAS BEEN TAMPERED WITH.” Did I yell at the lady for replacement? NO. Did I do anything unconstitutional? NO. I kindly asked. But she got the card, got another one and said with a frown, “Susmaryosep.” (Jesus, Mary and Joseph).

To rise from being “third world”, I think the system has to work both ways. The government develops projects while we strive for excellence in providing customer service. Think about Cebu Pacific’s shortcomings in their service and NAIA having broken CCTV’s (NAIA charges P200 for domestic terminal fee and P800 for international). The Barreto-Tulfo feud is of course another issue.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Empty-handed Love



When my sister's family decided to move out to Mindanao, my 2 year-old niece, Theara was left with no other playmate - but ME. To my delight, she would come to my room early morning, wake me up and say breakfast is ready. She would watch me put make up on my face and force me to put some on hers. She would cry if I left to go somewhere and would yell out to say goodbye, I love you and don't forget to buy Mentos! When she got hurt, she would run to me and let me wipe away her tears. She would lay in my arms and listen to me tell her stories.

After a month, my sister's family came back and so did Theara's playmates. In the morning, I would realize I woke up late because the one who used to wake me up is now playing with my nephews outside. While they're busy role-playing, imagining scenarios, producing sound effects for planes crashing; while they're running everywhere laughing, sometimes fighting, I would just stand there and watch. Theara would never approach me anymore to say how beautiful my hair is or how much she liked my dress. I don't know what happened to her but for some reason, she would not let me hug and kiss her. She doesn't care anymore if I left for work. She is busy. She has her friends now.

Today, I came home with a huge announcement to the kids asking who wants to come to the store with me later to buy candies. All of them said a loud YES. I hugged Theara asking what she wants and with twinkle in her eyes, she enumerated the candies she wanted. I felt warmth in my heart. There's this special intimate feeling that only children can give - and I felt that again with her at that time. 

It dawned on me that I sometimes have to give material things to them to show my love and intimate feelings. And then I remembered God. Many times have God blessed me with good things that I was sure He was using to draw me close to Him. My laptop, printer, Ipod, bicycle, rubber shoes and even that dinner treat that satisfied not only my stomach but my soul through the company of good friends - that money from a friend that seemed like a gift dropped straight from heaven - that listening ear of a friend or that book that changed my life. 

But sometimes, God comes empty-handed. 

Life suddenly becomes a mess and I become just flat broke or something goes wrong with my relationships or my job. Then I am left with no choice but to gaze at the giver of all things. Seeing the tears in my eyes, He would tell me He is everything I need and I've got everything I need to not only survive but live an abundant life. In fact, I am blessed by Him this way. And I feel better after crying in His presence - not because I am made richer or a miracle happened in my relationships or my job - but I feel loved by no less than the Creator of the universe and beyond.

I sure love it when Theara finally hugs and kisses me because of my candies, but I will always love it more when she does it even without them. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------


"When our deepest desire is n0t the THINGS of God,or a FAVOR fr0m God,but GOD himself,we cr0ss a thresh0ld." - Max Lucado


"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the  circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:11-12)



Saturday, April 14, 2012

When He Comes


What will you do when the president of the Philippines tells you he is visiting your home? No matter who you voted for president last election, you would most likely clean up your house, use the best curtains and doormats you have and prepare the best food you can think of. 

Jesus, however, who is the the King of kings and Lord of lords does not require such effort - for hardly do we even recognize his coming. When he was born on earth as a baby, He did not ask the world to make him a mansion or prepare him the best food. He was even born in a manger!

This is still true today. Afraid that Jesus will feel dishonored if we invite Him into our messed up lives, we'd rather not let Him in at all. Feeling dirty and unworthy, we hide from His gaze and we resent His every effort to reach out. This is what happened to Peter when he told Jesus to stay away because he's a sinner. 

Jesus can come anytime - in the midst of a divorce, while fighting against an addiction, while you are flunking all your subjects, while he family is on the edge of falling apart.

Accept Him as you are. He is God. He will not feel threatened. He is God - it's His job to help you get up and live an abundant life.

"I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him." (Revelation 3:10)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Words


When God created the world, he did it with WORDS. So that spared him from coming down and doing all the dirty job of making the ocean, forests, animals, humans, etc.

There is power in words - especially if they come from the creator of the universe. God did not create us only to bask in His power and splendor; He created us to have fellowship with Him. We are a projection of His very being. "So God created human beings in his own image..." (Genesis 1:27)

Because God wants a relationship with us, He wants to do so with WORDS. God's message for you and me lurks everywhere - especially in the Bible. Some of us have listened; some don't want to listen; some are getting there. 

Some don't want to listen because they think it's not going to help; they think it's not relevant to them. They think He does not really understand their circumstance. Some fear that if they listen and believe, He will turn their lives upside down, send them to Africa to feed the homeless or give up their evil ways. 

Some, however, like the disciples have laid aside their concerns and chose to listen intently to what God has to say.

The world has become so noisy today. Your facebook newsfeed alone will tell you this. There are messages everywhere. But in your 24 hours every day, can you still spare a single minute to hear what God has to say to you?

If you believe there is power in the word of God; if you believe it was His words that created the universe, then listen to His word to you today.Take heed because His word is out to give you a life beyond your wildest dreams and imagination. 


Hope Above Hopes


We have hopes in life: hope to finish college, to bag the job we've always wanted, marry the man of our dreams, catch the earliest bus, save enough money for travel and the list goes on.

All of these comprise the dash between the day we were born and the day we will die. 

In my case, it's 1985 - only God knows when. 

See that dash? The hopes I mentioned above are found there. There is however a bigger kind of hope that goes beyond that. And God revealed this to me in a fresh way. It is this one hope that can faithfully hold you even when you're hoping against hope about any of those things above or when all hope is seemingly gone.

While I was reading 1 Thessalonians 1, I came across this phrase: "enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.."

And it struck me that despite all our struggles in this life, all our victories, happiness, both good and bad times, it'll all boil down to whether we have something to hope for in the end.

And this is the kind of hope that matters after all. If you believe that there is life after death and you're sure that you're spending eternity with God, then you're on the right track. 

Let your hope be enduring - one that will not end after the dash of your life is over. If you're not yet sure, it's never too late. Click here to find out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Alabaster Jar


The alabaster jar – perfume worth a year’s wage. To a thief, unnecessary expense. To a donor, better off given to the poor. To an extravagant worshipper, insufficient to express love.

The alabaster jar – symbol of everything precious you have that is worth nothing if not used to express love for Jesus.


What is precious to you? What is in your hand that you cannot share with Him? What are you willing to surrender to express love for Him?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Resurrection Day 2012


Today is Resuurection Day and I recall the first time I believed in Jesus and accepted Him as personal Lord and Saviour. I am full of joy now having experienced exhilarating moments as a Christian – my honeymoon stage in my walk with Him, my passion to share the Gospel especially when I was still a very young Christian.

Likewise, I feel honoured and overjoyed having experienced deep pains with Him. I have experienced loneliness, confusion, rejection and Jesus was with me all throughout. It was our intimate fellowship that did not only make me survive, but have made me come out a better person and deeper in the faith. The best thing about it is how he stuck with me and how I came to know him more intimately. Can one really know the one who created the universe? You bet. It's the best thing in the world.

Now, I know that whatever happens to my life, I will always be victorious because one thing is for sure, God will always be on my side. 

What a life! If people really knew how it feels, they would trade all things for a life like this..

When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:46)
                                                                   

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fighting Battles


There are situations in life that are out to get the best of us, that shake our hearts to the core and make us feel like we have lost control. To lose control is one of man’s greatest enemies. We hate it when we are left at the backstage in the play of our lives or on the passenger’s seat instead of behind the driver’s wheel. We feel small when we are unrecognized, when people have empowered our weaknesses and have forgotten our strengths. We feel angry when people can’t seem to read our minds and make us feel that others’ feelings are more important than ours. We get pressured when people start unreasonably demanding things from us and have enumerated the reasons why we are a failure. Such are the things that drive us to cram for resolution, to change the status quo, to save ourselves from becoming smaller and smaller and less and less significant. We crave for stability because we don’t like to drown. When we have been tipped off our comfort boats, we swim hard and wonder why our unsinkable boat sank in the first place. We scream ; we whistle; we swim against the current because we have to survive – better yet, win. We attempt to figure things out and feel disappointed when none of our schemes worked. Yet we try harder. We silence the lambs by doing the extremes: good and bad. We appease our demons by giving money to the poor. We read a self-help book to make us feel learned. We clean the house or finish a project fast to make us feel productive. We scold our kids/nephews/nieces for not making their homework to make us feel responsible. We paint, write, dance, sing all of it off. Perhaps, art has the answer. If not, the pain reliever. We seek affirmation from relationships. If so and so does so and so, we should be fine. Otherwise, our hearts sing the song, “Why does the sun go on shining? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?”

We run; we paddle; we grope; we struggle. We are restless, helpless, hopeless, tired. Some of us don’t even know it.The truth is, we can never be in control. We may have the paddle in our hands or the driver’s wheel but storms and earthquakes come and dogs cross streets from nowhere. We are oftentimes caught unprepared. But sometimes the best solution is to simply be still.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14) When Jesus died on the cross, he did not only die for OUR sins but for OTHER PEOPLE’S sins and shortcomings against us – so that when we feel hurt/angered by them, we can always look to the cross and lift our burdens to Him. Life will always be messy and at times, we will never figure things out completely.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) 

Our not knowing is a part of God’s sovereign will in accomplishing His purposes in our lives. When we are left helpless and we fight our battles on our own, we are telling God that He is not fighting enough for us. Oftentimes, God only allows rejections, hurts, disappointments so we are left with no choice but to cling to Him. Sometimes, He will break our hearts into pieces – if that’s the only way to make it whole. He will turn our lives upside down for awhile – if that’s what it takes to keep it downside up.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Restless Senses

September 21, 2009


One of the most common things men have in common is the need for resolution. In watching a movie, it irks us when in heading towards the climax, for some reason, suddenly the player breaks down or the disc crashes. In reading a piece of literature, the theme is very important. It is whereby the point of reading the whole thing all boils down. Whatever it is, at least we know the author has a point.

The need for a resolution is rooted in man’s innate sense of restlessness. We are forever searching for something, that one sense of completion that will appease that part of ourselves that pushes us to keep searching. And so we spend our lives pursuing a lot of things. And the average, not –lazy person becomes uncomfortable with not becoming a contribution to the world, by possibly whatever it is that he is able to do. He has simply got to do something and keep doing it. And he later becomes identified with it, with his work that later in life, when he is 70 or 80 and is expected to stop, he starts feeling useless, worthless, not only and mainly because his skin is shabbier or his eye bags bigger, but because he is now coming to terms with reality that having to stop working someday is true of himself today.

If we feed our restlessness this way, then life will just be a bunch of things we ought to do and accomplish. The question is, “is that all there is to life?” If “doing” is the source and the center of our identity then all our identities are doomed to fail one day.

There is more to us and this life than simply ‘doing’.



Permissible but Not Beneficial

September 18, 2009

This is one of those days when I am making a conscious effort of trying to know which activity I need to pursue or not like if it is better to do this now or do that later.. It is not a matter of time, but rather a matter of choice, making the good one, that which is most beneficial… you see, I am trying to live by the principle that everything is permissible but not beneficial… like I could choose to go for a movie marathon tonight, sleep at like 3 in the morning and that would be very possible on my part, knowing that no one will really stop me from doing that but then the question is, what good would it do to me? Would that be the best thing I could do on a Thursday night?

 
I could even choose to continue to watch a series of video clips of debates on Youtube. I just attempted to watch one awhile back, but then again, is having my brains, my HOTS stimulated beneficial for me at this hour? With my brains having just awaken from a 4 hour, deep sleep…? And with novels, reports, term papers waiting for me to devour… ? Many things seem interesting, like perhaps writing lots and lots of essays such as this, or reading tons and tons of books, specially those I have been trying hard to catch up on. With all the many things I could do in one day, I can only choose one that is the most beneficial, sometimes one that which will make good use of my time. Life perhaps is not just about doing the “right” things, but doing them “at the right time”. Maybe, just maybe, this is purpose-driven living which makes the most of this short thing called Life.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Father's Heart



On a nephew’s birthday, I was in a room full of kids including my niece Theara. Theara left the room leaving me thinking someone will watch for her outside. Little did I know that she got inside their room. A couple of minutes later, commotion broke in the house. Theara had accidentally locked herself inside alone. We heard her frantically crying while telling her how to get out. My heart would skip a beat every time she led out a deep cry of frustration. I was so worried myself, all I could say was, “Don’t cry baby! It’s going to be okay!”

Then his dad came to the scene – my younger brother: concerned yet calm. He tried pushing the door so hard with his arms but it just made Theara cry all the more. She was screaming, “No! Stop it!”

My heart was crushed.

We tried breaking into the windows which seemed impossible. We thought of calling the carpenter neighbour who might just break the door knob.

Then just before we fell for more silly things like get a backhoe, his dad lowered himself and started speaking to her through the door – telling her he’s got a lollipop and she'd better get out of their soon to get it. All she needed to do was follow his instructions. My brother calmly told her two year old daughter to hover towards the lock, lift it and push it to the left.

A few minutes later, the door opened. Dad and daughter embraced – tears streaming down her cheeks.

And it dawned on me how powerful the words of a father are and how crucial it is to follow his instructions.

Looking at my brother’s effort, I knew he was the most desperate to get her daughter out.  He didn’t care about the door, his arms, the doorknob, the windows. Her freedom is everything to her.

Equally important is Theara’s part in breaking herself free. She wanted freedom and she knew her father was doing his best but she had a role to play – trust in him and follow every bit of his instructions. 


So it is in our relationship with God. It's when we trust in Him, surrender completely and listen to what He says that we have just set ourselves free.
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"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Uncomfortable with Jesus


Having Jesus around Jerusalem was the most uncomfortable thing that happened to the lives both of the Pharisees and the common people. Jesus’ coming was like a stone thrown into a still pound, a loud trumpet in a quiet afternoon or a wayward entering the President’s banquet. He disturbed the status quo – people were shocked, amazed and angry everywhere. A man born blind could now see. A woman bleeding for many years is now healed. Water is turned into wine. Evil spirits entered pigs’ bodies -throwing them off a cliff. A dead man is brought to life.  If that wasn’t enough – He forgave man’s sin and said that He and the father are one.

The Jews only had two options – to believe in Him completely or to get rid of Him – but with everything He had already done, they couldn’t simply brush it off.

So despite everything good Jesus did – He was killed - because it was uncomfortable having him around. After all, “if they allowed him to go on like that, soon everyone would believe in him. Then the Roman army would come and destroy both their temple and their nation.” (John 11:48) Apparently, man’s nature to preserve himself is evident in this reason. They could not see the work of God because they are blinded by worldly matters.

Self-preservation in this context was the attempt of man to get rid of what he deemed a challenge to his comfortable state.

“WE WERE FINE WITHOUT JESUS. AND WE WILL BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT HIM SO LET’S JUST GET RID OFF HIM ONCE AND FOR ALL.”

Even those who experienced Jesus’ love and compassion – those who witnessed the five loaves and two fish multiplied to feed them five thousand, those who drank the wine that Jesus made from water, those whose husbands, wives, children experienced healing – were all helpless in trying to stop the Pharisees.

In unison, they cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Got rid of him once and for all.

Little did the Jews know that at Jesus’ expense, He was using their self-preservation for their ultimate good. God chose from the very beginning to redeem the fallen mankind at the expense of Himself. He looked past their spits, their whips, their crowning him with thorns and their nailing him on the cross so that He could ultimately save them. While He was suffering, He had these people in mind – and the rest of us today. The cross is a reminder of that pursuit – the weight Jesus chose to carry, the instrument of His death so that He could save the lives of those who plotted it.

We are often blind to our weaknesses and we are finite beings who make mistakes. We are often like the Jews who were blind to what Jesus was trying to do. But every turn of events in our lives – be it a joyful, a sad, a painful one is God’s way of pursuing us - of making us know Him as He really is. He can turn everything around and make us a new person. What he did around 2000 years ago should impact our lives today. We can either reject Him or accept Him completely – but we can never ignore Him.

If we accept Him into our lives as Savior and Lord – yes our lives will never be the same – he can make us stop our vices and addictions, he can relocate us, will break our relationships, take away our jobs but we will experience a new one that will be far beyond our wildest imagination. If we reject or ignore Him, however, He will also reject and ignore us when judgment day comes.

If you want to accept Jesus into your life, pray this simple prayer of faith (it’s not the prayer that saves you; it is your faith – the prayer is just a guide)

“Dear Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and I receive you as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person that you want me to be.”
Amen