Monday, August 15, 2016

OLYMPIC VICTORY FOR CHRIST

photo credit: pinterest.com
To honor the gods, particularly Zeus. This may have inspired the holding of the  ancient Olympics back in the 8th century BC.

Well, today's Olympic champions, thank God, are dedicating their victory to the true Master of the universe.  And why not?  These athletes have experienced HIs enabling power. In their weakness, they have learned to rely on the powerful God who is the source of all strength.  

Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) particularly features athletes who are unabashed in declaring their faith on Jesus.  Some of its recent stories:

"Ven Niekerk, track star, South Africa, smashes Michael Johnson's record; gives glory to God."

"The fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt is making headlines around the world, but reports say the God he worships is being ignored by the BBC."

"Olympic gold medalist Almaz Ayana tells the world how she was able to break a 23-year-old world record in the 10,000 meters track competition; she says it's because of Jesus. "   

"U.S. Track Star Allyson Felix, a devout Christian, told the Los Angeles Times that her Christian faith is the reason she runs."

Texas-native Simone Manuel, 19, "gives glory to God; took her place in Olympic history Thursday night, becoming the first African-American woman to win gold in swimming…"

"American Olympic divers David Boudia and Steele Johnson took silver in the men's synchronized 10-meter platform Monday night. They both have repeatedly shared how they find their identity in Jesus Christ."

"Five years ago 22-year-old Nigerian American Moralake Akinosun tweeted about her dream to compete in the Olympics. Today she is living her dream.  Akinosun, a Christian, said her faith inspires her to believe beyond the impossible."

These Olympic Games testimonies are just too many to mention here. From the most bemedalled Olympian, swim champ Michael Phelps, to gymnast "perfect 10" Simone Biles. All of them attest of THE God who repairs broken lives, empowers the weak and enables one to persevere despite the odds.

And that these feats are possible for those who are willing to be trained, to get back up when they fall, and to discipline themselves to master their skill even if it hurts―and to believe, really believe, that with God, nothing is impossible.

These bible verses must have taken life in the hearts of these champions:

"You thrill me, Lord, with all you've done for me. I sing for joy of what you have done," Psalm 92:4.

"When they call me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and HONOR them," Psalm 91:5.

By the way, haven't you noticed that the naysayers and faith-bashers have not said much to belittle these faith proclamations? They better not! Or they will be contending with adoring fans.  

Having honored God, these champions have brought glory to their countries as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

REVEAL TIME

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Hide and seek is fun. Finding that one playmate to replace you as tayรข is key:  

Is he behind the sofa, inside the closet or under the bed? Everyone screaming, laughing and scampering for home base all the more makes taguan exciting.

An aha! moment. That's what we experience when we uncover something hidden. No wonder  taguan delights kids.

Discovering God's truth gives you reason to rejoice too.

I've read the bible umpteenth times but I still break into "Wow!" moments. That's when fresh insights fly out of its pages to roost in the inner caverns of my heart. This happens too on certain Sundays when the preacher dives so deep into the Word (like searching for hidden treasures), enough to nourish my spirit days on end.  

So how could the devil snatch these words from me if they've securely burrowed into my heart? So when faced with temptations, I stand firm on the truth. Some of them:    

That I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.

He knows me and calls me by name. I'm His child.

My sufferings are just temporary and He will give me victory.

He has not given me the spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind.

I am saved in Christ! And because of that, I have His mindto think pleasant, good and admirable thoughts.

Just by watching news on TV nowadays, you'd sense a world in turmoil. People are harassed, petrified, worried, stressed. Jesus himself warned us of terrible times ahead.

John 16:33"I have told you those things so that in me, you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!"

The world needs to know! The truth could not be hid any longer.

In a Philippine barangay, a Juan or a Juanita may be caught in drug addiction but he/she does not know it's destroying him/her. And he/she's terrified of being caught.

Somewhere in a public school in America, a teenage boy may be attending the After School Club of Satan (CBNNews); or a young woman may be seeking  abortionconsequence of an anything-goes lifestyle.

An internet source reports  that  1.4 billion babies have been aborteda good percentage due to unwanted pregnanciesworldwide since 1980.

According to the Daily Mail, UK, site, the number of people killed worldwide through terrorism has soared by 80% in 2014. It wouldn't be surprising to see that percentage growing higher each year.

Generations of children have grown up without a sense of God and His righteousness. No wonder they live according to their own terms. And terror has abounded.  

The TRUTH must be revealed!

Everyone, especially the next generation, needs to know about the glorious deeds of the Lord, His power and mighty wonders (Psalms 78:4). That's the only way they could put their trust in the Word, and not in their gold or their little gods.

No hiding now. Let the WORD go, that they may cling to Jesus, their only source of hope and change.


Lord, give me the boldness to share and live your Word.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

LIE TO ME NOT

image credit:
http://bunow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/lying-1.jpg
"Lie through one's teeth."

This idiomatic expression, meaning to lie deliberately, even with a smile, dates back to the early 1300s per the English Language and Users website.

Lying through one's teeth implies a cold-blooded, deliberate attempt at truth-bending—"as if I never lied."

Who knows for sure when someone fakes it?

If you've watched the TV crime series, "Lie to Me," you'd soon find yourself inhabiting its main character's persona (Cal Lightman played by actor Tim Roth); and judging the criminal, "Yes, you're the culprit!" 

He sort of reads one's body language—from micro facial twitches to eye squints to finger tapping.

Wikipedia says that the show has been inspired by the work of Paul Ekmanpsychology professor emeritus at the University of California San Francisco University School of Medicine, world's foremost expert on facial expressions. He was the TV show's consultant.

"I will always know if you've plagiarized," I make it a point to tell new college students on first day of school. They almost always gasp in fear and disbelief. (It's nice to once in a while shock them, hehe!)

Not that I've all of a sudden developed a third eye or ESP (extra sensory perception). But I use an app which automatically scans and in seconds highlights plagiarized texts in a paper, directing me to the exact website it came from.  
image credit: http://watchdog.org/wp-content/
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Pity students whose papers go back to square one because they thought they could out-smart us. (Teachers are not smarter, of course, just forearmed with technology, thanks SISFU!)

Did Melania Trump think she could get away with her Republican convention speech which parroted  Michelle Obama's? Imagine that video going viral and she being vilified elsewhere as a copycat. Honestly, I sense sabotage or bad faith on the part of Mrs. Donald Trump's speech writer. Should have been subjected to a "Lie to Me" grilling!

But why fake or misrepresent it? The truth is the truth! 

"Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed," Prov. 12:19.  

More on point: There is nothing hidden that won't be revealed, and there is nothing secret that won't become known and come to light," Luke 8:17.

It’s cool to be a social media hit, with either your literary piece, music or design running viral. Please attribute, if you're not the original creator.  

Recall that furniture designer who won $100,000 in a popular design competition? His euphoria just as easily died when the TV show's organizers learned his design was copied.

What to do, what to do when the accolades die down, shame takes over and regret weighs you down?

The One who sees your innermost knows. Come clean! "Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord," Acts 3:19.


"O Lord, I sometimes can't help it. I lie! Forgive me. Change my cheating heart with a heart that wants to obey you. Make me brand new in Jesus."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

FLAWLESS FABULOUS DEAL

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To tattoo or not to tattoo? This was one of our recent topics in class.

"It's really about your convictions."  

"It disfigures."

"It depends on what the drawn image is all about. Skulls are pretty scary."

"Old testament prohibition; no longer applies."

There seems to be no end to the back and forth arguments about tattoos, is there?

My personal take on the topic? If God has made you and me wonderfully and fearfully, per Psalm 139:14, why indeed mess with it? Could anyone add or subtract to what God has done, when everything He created was "very good" according to Genesis 1?

Have you watched this TV show featuring two doctors reconstructing patients' noses, lips, necks, breasts, tummies, derrieresmind you even cheeks and absafter earlier plastic surgeries botched by other surgeons?

Note that quite a number of these patients believed they could look prettier, younger, sexier or more buffed if they bought more of the same. 

Per Children's Hospital (Philadelphia) plastic surgery division psychologist Canice E. Crerand, PhD, plastic surgery addiction is more psychological than physical.

image credit:
https://thegrandnarrative.files.wordpress.com
Called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), this addiction happens to one who's "preoccupied with a slight or imagined, defect (usually of the face); then obsessed with doing something about it. One study suggests that as many as one-third of nose-job patients exhibit BDD symptoms."

It's a different thing altogether if one goes under the knife because of health issues such as a breathing difficulty or obesity, or to remedy disfigurement.

Again, who's to judge? Cultural, family and many other factors contribute to individual choices. 

Today, however, we can consider a Hollywood-mass media-advertisers-internet confluence as having dictated this generation's concept of beautyone which hails physical looks plus blings as greater than integrity of character.

Numbers do not lie. Both the tattoo and cosmetic surgery industries have grown by leaps and bounds, with US tattoo jobs totalling $2.3 billion dollars and cosmetic surgeries reaching $13.5 billion in 2014.  That's equivalent to all our country's BPO (business process operations) transactions combined.

It's a blessing in disguise that I don't have money to spare for even a double chin lop-off or a botox.

Honestly, even if one of my body parts is fixed today, surely others (e.g. tummy, arms, buttocks, etc.) are bound to droop and sag and fold anyway. So why even consider a lift? 

And if my butt gets augmented todaya whooping $4,000Mama mia, I'd surely be in rigor mortis!  

I'd rather have this lift: Psalm 3:3 Jesus, my glory and the lifter of my head!

Moses knew how to get into that lift. He spent time with God, so much so that when he went down to face the Israelites, his face shone brightly.

That biblical account says too that God's presence remained with Moses wherever he wentsomething no gold or silver or the applause of menor any tummy tuck for that mattercould ever replace.


What a flawless, fabulous deal!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

NOT YOUR DREAM WEDDING

Image credit: www.freepik.com
I've attended quite a number of weddingssome a bit more memorable than the others for the parade of beautiful people and couture, glitzy amenities, even ritzy and unique venues.

But this one wedding stands out, for its simplicity: 

Family members and a few friends sat almost shoulder to shoulder in a small venue good for around 35 pax, max. Since everyone knew each other, lively chatter and laughter abounded.

(Bride's Lola and Tita "ganged up" on me to try the venue's popular halo-halo as we waited for the bride. It was sooo good I thought I wouldn't have any more appetite for the lechon and the chicharon. I was so wrong. And yes to chicharon! Told you, this was no ordinary wedding.)

Bride, arm in arm with teary-eyed dad, marched in a glitter-free but nonetheless elegant gown. Nothing could outshine her radiance anyway.

An intimate wedding: Best man Carl pokes fun at the new couple.
Her groom stood talland may I say lovelyin his white shirt and khaki pants.

She had instead a man of honor, her brother who happens to be her best buddy; so bakit nga naman hindi man of honor?

Bride's Lolo Benjie officiated and delivered what I believe is one of the most heart-warming wedding talks ever.

Bride and groom's wedding vows misted our eyes. 

The bride I write about is Carla, one of my former Marketing students. She's one of the few who made it a point to regularly keep in touch and invite this ancient soul for coffee and counselbe it about writing or living or loving.

Carla writes a regular column for the Manila Timesher recent piece being about her wedding with Anthony.

"Our wedding, just like life, was flawed and imperfect and yet we adored every minute of it. My husband and I understood that this was real life and we weren’t blinded by the preparations.

"We were reminded of what marriage is about and who should always take center stage: God and by taking away all the frills, we unintentionally made the day about Him.

"Today, as we look back on that special day, we are filled with awe at God’s grace and how He brought together two people from opposite ends of the world in the most unconventional way to show that truly with Him, nothing is impossible."

No frills, no beauty-salon looks, no bling-me-ons. A gentle reminder of what matters most in our materialistic world.   

Carla and Anthony, you've started spot on. May these words from Ecclesiases 4:9-12 resonate in your relationship:  

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."


May Jesus be your major strand. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

BULLY THOUGHTS

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A big bully is brought to his knees. Well, sort of. An international tribunal rules in favor of the Philippines," denying China's claim to the bulk of the South China Sea" (CNN News).

But the bully is still at it, accusing the tribunal of "professional incompetence" and "questionable integrity." 

A true-blue bully, don't you think?

Bullies are an interesting lot―be they nations or classmates or your next-door neighbors.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a bully as a "blustering browbeating person, especially one who is habitually cruel to others who are weaker."

In this case of course, "weaker" refers to us―100 million Pinoys; and "blusterer/browbeater" China's 1.40 billion-strong nation. Goodness, that's a no contest!

It's intriguing why a country this powerful and gigantic would even want to have a slice of an ocean pie so minute―unless of course they found that spot a strategic economic or warfare zone. And of course they did.

But could they just mind their own waters? Aren't they big and extensive enough to use their tentacles over their own gazillion mile-wide resources! Why be a bully?

Of course bullies meet their end. History informs us of once glorious kingdoms whose greatness―or notoriety―is now buried in our forgetfulness: Egypt, the Ottoman, Mongol and Roman empires, the Soviet Union, and Spain whose disdainful lordship over the Philippines still lingers in our collective memory as a nation because of Rizal's Noli and Fili.

One bully and his cohorts met their end not through military might, smart weaponry or negotiation. In 1 Samuel 17, Goliath, the Philistine, endlessly boasted of obliterating Saul's army; and yes, they trembled in fear.

Yet David finished Goliath with one stone from his slingshot. David said (v 37), "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."

David's confidence didn't come from his slingshot or himself. He relied on God, the Word. 

Facing Goliath, he said, "You come to me with a sword… spear… shield. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands; and I will smite you and take off your head…; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." (Verses 45-46)

Bullies, they abound. They're either your seatmate in class, officemate or boss, even your ka-beso-beso in church; worse, your ate or kuya or bunsong kapatid.

The bible says though that an even bigger bully is behind the one who bullies. Satan uses people to intimidate, enslave or coerce.

But we have a more powerful advocate than any earthly tribunal or army combined.

Jesus says that the thief (Satan) comes to steal to kill and to destroy, but He came that we may enjoy life to the full (John 10:10); and that in Him, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).

Bullies beware. No fear in Jesus!  


Saturday, July 9, 2016

YEAH FOR TEACHING!

Just when I feared my next three months would be blah, in came a twist to this teacher's term-in-term-out routine.

One of this author's constant refrains heaven-ward is, "Lord, give me more teaching and seminar opportunities so that those inspirational books you've enabled me to write would find their way into the hands of the youth and those in the marketplace."  

Back in 2003 when I started teaching at an international university, I developed this strong urge to write a book for my students. Having seen some of them struggling to get by, I desired to instil into their consciousness that God's plan for them is for success, not failure, but that they need the integrity of heart to do what is right by Him. 

So I started writing.

My late-in-life mission has been to excite young people about their Creator's wonderful purpose for their lives even as they succeed in their chosen careers.

The current school year came, but I received no teaching offer for term one. Of course there won't be first year college students! They've all been caught in the K to 12 program.

Then voila! My old friend and churchmate, Baby, messaged. "Could you teach Personal Development (the subject I usually taught first year students in college) in our school's K to 12 program?" she asked. Baby runs a Christian school whose students are children of bible-believing parents.

It dawned on me that this was God giving me a chance to connect with teenagers who are in the faith but nonetheless clueless of the world they'd soon be stepping into―secular educational institutions, and later, professions where they'd be locking horns with hyper-competitive types who will stop at nothing to be ahead of the pack, their ways dictated by a materialistic marketplace.  

As someone who'd been there, done that, and survived a dog-eat-dog world where sky-high egos ruled, I knew I could encourage them―to excel and persevere and go up the business ladder or whatever careers they've chosen, even as they remain steadfast in their faith.  

So I'm blessed to be involved nowadays with a bunch of 16 bright-eyed students eager to take on the world with their talents and dreams.

The best part about this assignment is my front seat view to my students' motivations and ambitions, even their heartaches and issues, as well as their astuteness at making things work in spite of relationship or personal dysfunctions.

Reading their assignments or hearing their workshop discussions and presentations, I'm repeatedly blown away by the maturity with which some of them have managed tricky situations. 

Their eureka moments in class have challenged this teacher to just press on for creative ways to keep them in the learning loop.

Wisdom comes from the Lord and He has constantly equipped me with that as I teach.

Laugh out loud moments and fun? We have a lot of those too. One student always regales us with his stand up comic act before his serious stuff.

And they're all looking forward to our talent day, physical fitness day, project runway day, career day, etc.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."


"Wow, I get to be youth pastor or Sunday school teacher twice a week," I very soon realized. How cool is that?