Tuesday, July 10, 2018

DUST AND GOD


Image result for michelangelo art images"Prove to me that there is a God and I will resign," said the President. 

We don't know God's "how" and "when" but he's in for a knee-shattering response —  if he has not gotten it yet. 

A humbling fact: He's but dirt. You and I are. We need to be reminded of that.

Think you're scrubbing scum from your body at bath-time? Partly yes, but mainly because you're shedding off a bit of your original component---D.U.S.T.  

Wait till your remains are cremated and/or buried in the cemetery. Your original form revealed.  Totally!

But I'll say it here again, as I've written and talked about in my books and seminars. You're wonderful dust. 

Psalm 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."

We are numero uno evidence that there's a God. How could one even imagine that a thinking and analyzing being such as yourself be dust? 

Consider yourself. Are you an inventor or engineer? A strategist? An artist? Man, we're way above chimpanzees or any other created being! 

Man can design systems, manufacture goods, even channel our intelligence through computers and machines.

Think of the authors and artists who have inspired you breathless. Shakespeare. Van Gogh. Michelangelo. Your teacher who motivated you to dream and excel. Your parents who loved and nurtured you in spite of your sometimes sour attitude. 

Why is man a cut above the rest? This God  who's been dismissed by many as just a figment of our imagination — designed us in His likeness. 

"Genesis 1:27 "So God created man in His OWN image..." And breathed His Spirit in us. Genesis 2:7 "Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

That's why man is so smart. So smart that he imagines himself to be God!

God gave us free will, but within rules if we want to enjoy peace and prosperity,  cautioning that out of bounds, we face consequences.

And to make sure we don't get lost or have an excuse for gallivanting, we've been handed an instruction manual, the bible —  much like Enzo Ferrari giving his customers an owner's manual so they can savor the full benefits of his built-to-win-the-race cars.

It's about His grace! He didn't want man to perish using his free will as an excuse for foolishness and misadventure so God synthesized His manual into one simple faith-path. His Son Jesus Christ, Himself co-Maker of heaven and earth, revealed God's fullness to all mankind when He came in human form.

God even gifted us with a planet perfectly endowed for human life, giving us front row seat to the heavens and a limitless universe. Scientists and NASA itself have proven that this still expanding universe exists because of intelligent design. 

Yet millions all over the world dismiss the concept of God.

Dust shaking its fist at God? Who do you think wins in the end?

"The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled)," Isaiah 3:12

A natural father knows when to make his child face the wall —  or whack his behind —  if he misbehaves. Couldn't He who created and breathed life unto dusty us do the same? 

He craves our repentance. James 4:6 "But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."

Something to think about: Will His grace run out?

Friday, June 29, 2018

THE POWER OF WORDS


Image credit: Second Life Marketplace
We get inundated daily by a torrent of words some plain gibberish, others informative or inspiring, a lot of them we wished we never heard because of their crassness or irreverence.

Words it seems have life. 

Because their meanings or implications fuel our imaginations and emotions, words can send relationships down slippery slopes. Just look around us. Broken marriages. A divided nation. Because of hurtful, stinging words.

As a bible-believing Christian and as someone who's built her career on disciplines (broadcast, advertising, public relations and marketing) requiring sound communication strategies, may I offer my two-cents worth on the business of words words and concepts being the foundation of any sound communication:

1. Words are powerful because they come from the Creator Himself.

Genesis 1 tells us how God spoke creation into being. "Let there be light," were just the first of these words.  

Jesus Himself is the Word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:1-3)

It's interesting how many businesses and products built their successes on words or principles which  marketing and advertising people refer to as business strategies or unique selling propositions like Disneyland building itself to be "The Happiest Place on Earth", Nike inspiring ordinary athletes to "Just Do It", or Apple following its "Think Different" philosophy, be it in company culture or product design.  

2. The higher the authority of the one speaking, the weightier the words.

God used words and still uses the Word the bible and Jesus per se to teach us how to live; with millions of lives transformed by the truths they've started to believe.

"The Filipinos are worth dying for," spoken by the exiled Ninoy Aquino who challenged the Marcos dictatorship, has continued to reverberate through several generations of patriotic Filipinos.

Martin Luther King, Jr., champion of Negro emancipation in the 1960s, still inspires Americans today with "I Have a Dream".

In his 1961 inaugural speech, John F. Kennedy exhorted his fellow Americans, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."  

How weighty indeed were Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and his fiery speeches which inspired an entire nation to say yes to the annihilation of the Jews!  

Which brings us to the last point…

3. Words spoken by those in authority or positions of power take a life of their own.

Especially nowadays when information is quickly accessible with just a push of your smart-phone app,  politicians and celebrities' words get uploaded or broadcast in real time without much chance to edit or window-dress their carelessly-uttered thoughts.

Words build up. They also destroy. So those in leadership positions must be extra careful of their words and actions. Those on top of the totem pole speak louder than anyone's words or actions.

My main point: As audiences and responsible citizens, how should we respond to the words and behavior of our leaders especially when they wantonly lie, curse, take pride of their shenanigans, or use their power for their own ends?

"Pray for them," says the bible, even as we obey the laws. They too are our duly-elected representatives, so they are accountable to both God and the citizenry. They need to be warned if they exceed their bounds, for they certainly face God's wrath.  

"But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul, Ezekiel 3:19.

God's Word is powerful. He does not lie. He is God and is in control.

We are Filipinos. We have a soul. Just giving up and allowing someone to abuse and divide us is a disservice to our nation and our God.  

Sunday, June 24, 2018

HOY, PINOY

Pilipino ka ba?
Magluksa, lumuhod, umiyak
Magdasal nang may pagsisisi
Nakapanlulumo Pilipinas na  mahal
Biglang nahulog sa mabahong burak
Watak-watak, warak-warak

Lideratong sinungaling
Nangako, napako
Paulit-ulit, paulit-ulit, sablay naman
Bulag na tagasunod parang mga tuod
Nagmana sa mapanlinlang na amo
Tila may panggayuma, siguro nga

Malinaw na ebidensya huwag bale-walain
Baksak na ekonomiya, mga pekeng balita
Patayang kahina-hinala, bagsak na hustisya
Kahiya-hiyang imahe sa mga tagalabas
Insulto dito, umaatitabong mura na parang may tama
Kinatutuwaan, pinapalakpakan, di ko maintindihan

Pati yamang-dagat, islang atin naman
Tipong hinayaang maangkin ng Tsina
Malaking palaisipan, may kapalit kaya?
United Nations kakampi't sang-ayon
Pero tayo natameme, parang naengkanto
Hoy Pinoy, iginisa ka na sa sariling mantika

Kawawang kabataan
Sinong magtuturo kung baluktot si tatay?
Kung ganyan umunlad, gayahin na lang
Mangako, magsinungaling, magkengkoy
Ikaw'y papalakpakan
Mapagtatakpan mga kapalpakan

'Yan ang akala niya kaya nagpipiyesta
Hindi natutulog Diyos na minura
Sino ba ang tao at kapangyarihan nya
Kung walang basbas ng gumawa sa kanya
Lakas ng apog maaagnas, matutunaw
Pag si Lord hinamon lalo ng mayabang
Subsob, sadsad, kangkungan katapat nya

Mga kababayan, dumilat, gumising
Kusutin ang mata, mag-isip
Tayo ang Pinoy, isang bansa
Hindi lang isang tao at alipores nya
Humingi ng galing mula sa pinakamagaling
Kahit among baluktot, maitutuwid o mapapalitan din
Balon mang malalim ang kinasadlakan
May makakapitan, makakaahon din

Sunday, June 3, 2018

HEART CHIPS


When was the last time you said, "I can do this, I'm in control;" then you come crashing down, embarrassed that you bungled it?

All because you depended entirely on yourself. Oh yes, I have a lot of these faux pas. Had one recently. Trite, really, but humbling nonetheless.

This teacher who's so used to speaking before large audiences struggled with her words and totally lost them in front of a few people. 

Irritating for someone who takes pride in her gift of gab.

Pride! Aye, there's the rub.

Seemingly insignificant mistakes expose the chips of our hearts. When we're so sure of ourselves—self-sufficient, that's when we realize we can't do things on our own.

We are by nature control  freaks, in varying degrees, right?

"I'll prove to them who's right."

"I'm way smarter."

"If only I could..."

We fail nonetheless and oftentimes hurt the people we love—even ourselves.

Failed relationships, disastrous careers, even national disasters—caused by politically-motivated decisions resulting in economic and social dysfunction—can be traced back to what we may term here as "Me-tology" or "I-cology".

Me-tology/I-cology 101 is easy to master. No need to enroll.

We've had it within us since birth—our sinful nature passed on to us by our first parents since they decided they had the wherewithal to do things on their own.

Me-tology is all about flaunting carnal-minded me-me-me, my desires, my plans, my rights, my innate ability to produce results. Wonder why children fight?

Our day-to-day stresses stem from our I-centered hearts: being unmindful of others' point of view, judging people based on your limited perspective, always thinking you're right or better, taking vengeance. Quite a list.

It's not so much the enormity of our challenges, but the state of our hearts, which the Lord cautions us about. Have we yielded all of our hearts' cavities to Him?

This heart of mine can be pretty deceitful and cold, making me veer as far away from God, especially when I don't pray and read His Word. Yes, even if you're a Christian!

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it," cautions Proverbs 4:23.

The moment I start thinking "I can do it," the sooner I realize I can't—on my own.

"I can do all things through Him (Christ) who gives me strength," Philippians 4:13. With Jesus, I can!

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

The "doing" is still mine; the wisdom and direction all His. My Creator knows how and where I should point my nose. I just need to follow His lead.

And our big God is not just concerned with the big things. He's interested in our littlest concerns—yes, even in simple matters like opening your mouth.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my self-sufficiency. You created me. You've deposited your abilities in me. Help me to realize that apart from you, I am mere dust and can't do anything by myself. I declare my dependence on you. Help me Holy Spirit, in Jesus' name.







Tuesday, May 1, 2018

INTEXTICATED

No automatic alt text available.Intexticated. Anyone been diagnosed as such?

I hope you're not one of them―perpetually romancing your smart phone, turning catatonic once the gadget slips from your grasp.  

Some say it's a social malady, just like alcohol addiction; so is it possible that some enterprising folks may already have rehab centers for the intexticated?

"Intexicated" refers to someone who is distracted by texting or composing an email on a handheld device while walking or driving, thus unaware of his surroundings.

So serious is this epidemic that the Automotive Club (AAA) of  Southern California has, in its recently launched road safety campaign, lumped drinking and texting as the major causes of fatal road accidents; "with nine people killed and 1,000 injured daily in America," notes the advert.

I wonder if the message's target audience even noticed, or if they even care―because serious and fatal car crashes attributed to cellphone use continue to daily hog the headlines in these parts.

Intextication is not just a road safety concern. It is a serious problem pervading mostly young people and a lot of social media-enamored adults.

Experts report that since the advent of the smart phone, hordes of youngsters are sleeping less, hardly socializing and are depression and suicide-prone.

This teacher has seen this trend first-hand among students. With less sleep, they find it hard to concentrate and do their course works. It's as if knowledge enters their heads in a flash, then exits as soon as it’s been discussed, reported or written about. Ask about the topic the week after and it seems to have been erased from their memory.

Because if they fiddle with hordes of texts, sites and apps day and night, all they really catch are soundbites or snapshots of informationtoo flimsy to even make sense of. That's poor substitute for disciplined thinking or analysis.

A flooded mind is like a river cluttered with debrismurky and unable to freely flow. No wonder youngsters or the intexticated lack focus, get into accidents easily, struggle with process and systematic thinking, or fail to even carry decent conversations.  

College Student Asleep in Class
image credit: http://collegetidbits.com
Sometimes I think some of my students have already turned into zombies. Imagine them sleep-deprived, mind foggy and numbed because of their incessant net surfing. Yes, they raise their hands at roll call.

But come discussion time, they simply turn ghost-like―unresponsive, or simply asleep, but with eyes wide open. Some make you feel they're focused on what's on the table while their fingers are busy with their cellphones under their desks.

Technology is a blessing, but abused can be a vexation, and therefore deadly.

Intextication, like intoxication, has its consequences. Ask recovering alcoholics. The road back is bumpy, but not impossible, by God's grace.

That's why this warning: Luke 21:34 34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life…"

Ephesians 5:18 "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."

Be intexticated instead with the Word, which leads to life, wisdom and sobriety.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

A PLEASANT AND PURE OFFERING




Our granddaughter Coleen was one of
the nine kids dedicated.
Babies! Aren't they the cutest?

Walk through your most pleasant thoughts and the road will lead you back to little children, babies particularly. They are the cuddliest, funniest, sweetest, and most amazing, huggable, kissable, lovable, charming, melt-your-heart cutie-pies. One just runs out of words! 

(Ask me, I'm one of those lolas. As far as we're concerned, our grandkids are the best.)

And each one is specialperfectly knit together by God in his mothers' womb, fearfully and wonderfully made, says David in Psalms 139:14.

Victory San Diego* (VSD) became some sort of goo-goo center recently as nine childrenfive of them babieswere dedicated to the Lord.

The entire VSD family came in full force, these kids' parents and  ministry volunteers putting on their snappy shoes to ensure the entire celebration went without a hitchfrom the fast, orderly and baby-fied set-up of the venue, the mouth-watering feast (Kids' mommies, you're the best!), to the baby dedication rites per se.

Pretty much in keeping with Jesus' (Luke 18:16) teaching his disciples: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
New-born Paul, dedicated by his parents Anne and Philip.

"It is not about committing a child to a religion," Pastor Robert Hern explained to the gathered VSD family, the children's sponsors and other guests. "A child is offered to the Lord so that when he is old, he will not depart from his Christian upbringing." 

Baby dedication takes its roots from biblical times.

Hanna, the prophet Samuel's mother, for example, offered baby Sam to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:27-28 "So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord."

The Lord Jesus Himself was presented and dedicated to the Lord by Mary and Joseph (Luke 2) in Jerusalem.

              Victory San Diego's Pastor Robert Hern                  
encourages the children's parents and sponsors.
Psalm 127: 3-5 "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them..."

Pastor Robert underscored how the Lord treasures children, that they are rewards from Him, and as such, must be valuedloved, prayed for, and provided direction, significance and material needsby their parents. "They are like arrows that must be released, so that they might hit their mark someday, because the Lord's purpose has been built into each life."

Blessed are these children indeed!

Kudos to the Victory San Diego family for laboring with their parents as well.

All glory to Him who directs everything for His own good pleasure.

Prayer: O Lord, thank you for little children. You treasure them, so help us to value them too by leading them to You as their Way, their Truth and their Life. Amen.  


*Please like the Victory San Diego Facebook page. 
Website: http://victorysandiego.org/victorysandiego/ 
Address: 11010 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, California (858) 800-4792

More prayers and laying on of hands
Two-some offering: LA and Jai's children, Eli and Emma
The venue prettified with baby photos and balloons
And of course, loved ones from San Diego came.
(This photo and below)


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

ANCHORS AWEIGH

Image result for popeye
Image credit:
http://www.imdb.com/
Mention "anchor" and the first image in my mind is that of cartoon character Popeye the sailor man with his anchor-tattooed arm―created by artist Elzie Crisler Segar in 1929.

I remember being fascinated by this character even when I was a teener in the 60s (Yes, I'm a baby-boomer!) craning my neck to catch this animated cartoon from outside our richer neighbor's window.

Each episode's wow! moment? When Popeye rapidly chomps on spinach and pouncesPOW!on his nemesis Bluto with his paddle-like arm.

The anchor is a popular maritime symbol―declaring, "I've been toughened, having braved the cruel seas," if a sailor sports one.

Real anchors are massive metal structures lowered into ocean beds to secure ships especially from strong ocean currents. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Holly Herline writes (http://www.navy.mil's) that the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz once had a 60,000-lb. anchor with a 90 foot chain totalling 20,500 lbs. All of 30 tons! That's roughly equivalent to a one tractor-trailer.

File:US Navy 040116-N-7278A-003 Sailors prepare to paint the ship's anchor.jpg
Image credit:
http://www.submarinerdiving.com/
More than two thousand years ago, the greatest of all anchors dug in. "Anchor aweigh," must have been His Father's instruction, translated in sailor-speak.

Hebrews 6:19 describes Jesus as our soul's anchor, firm and secure. When life's turbulences or tsunamis threaten to wreck your family, finances or whatever you've depended on to survive, He assures:

"I am the Rock on which you stand. I will hide you and keep you. Never fear or be discouraged." Our mighty God who created this awesome universe has everything under control.

Returning to our beach front from our island hopping when my siblings, with our husbands, vacationed at El Nido, I was amazed to see so many unmanned boats probably a mile or more before the beach.

It was a pretty yet intriguing sightcolorful boats dancing with the wind and the waves, but with no boatmen, and not bumping into each other. "The boats have been anchored and parked for the night," our utterly suntanned boatman (We called him Apl.de.ap.) educated us.

Free-floating, happy and dancing boats, cool!

That's like the freedom we have in Jesus. Once He becomes your anchor, He takes your hand, lets your feet settle on His, and makes you dancewith Him directing your every step and body English.

Center of the Universe. Me-Moi and Myself. Lust Galore. Money-Money-Money. Pride of Life. This once used to be our song list. And we loved to sing their refrains. The more we sang them, the heavier they feltto the point where sinking into the miry depths was the only option.

You and I know of some who've been anchorless and ended it all.

Sufficiency apart from God is a no brainer. The stuff of Titanic tragedies.

Who is your anchor?

Boatmen soon call it a night.  

Jesus offers Himself to both be our boatman and anchor, through stormy nights and even on sunny days. Would you let Him?


Prayer: Jesus, be my Anchor. I struggle navigating through life. Be my Rock, my Refuge. I repent of my sins, entrust my life to You, and cast all my cares unto You. Be my Savior and Lord.