Friday, August 26, 2011

Seeking Shelter

I hang on to every word, every promise, as we pored over Psalm 91.

This I did (with our bible study group of nine) while Jack painted metaphors of Jesus being our fortress and our place of safety in our prayer meeting last night.

And this while typhoon Mina---said to linger for about a week and therefore cause more damage---threatened to batter northern Luzon; and hurricane Irene endlessly analyzed by CNN to bring havoc in New York and neighboring cities just like Hollywood would portray it in a disaster movie.

Psalm 91 is such a shelter for hearts constantly battered by fear. But to experience peace in the middle of the storm is not as easy as psyching yourself to stay calm, "Peace, all will be well."

Experiencing peace is a big IF. The key is not our prayer or trusting that prayer can move mountains. (But yes, we must pray because He desires humility, signifying our faith and dependence on Him.)

The answer is: Jesus, Lord of all creation.

"If you make the most high your dwelling---even the Lord who is my refuge---then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." (Psalm 91:9-11)

For He is the most High (v. 1)! The most high God is our creator, the great God, the Almighty!

So if Jesus is our dwelling place and shelter, we can rest under His shadow.

"I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust (v. 2).' "

Dengue, HIV, H1N1, cancer, diabetes, coronary disease. You name it! If it's not dreaded disease, it's earthquake or hurricane or tsunami. Or drought and famine, like those decimating Africa where thousands die of hunger and malnutrition daily.

Add to that the wars and rumors of wars experienced right now in Syria, Libya and other middle east countries; and shades of those as Israel and more developed nations contend with almost invisible terrorists from the left and right of the political spectrum---those who inflict damage and sow terror with their lightning speed bombings or killings in seemingly well-guarded or policed urban areas.

Because of these, people's hearts are fainting! Panic pervades though unseen.

"Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

"You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday." (v. 3-6)

If we love Him, promised the Lord, He will rescue us.

"I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my SALVATION." (v.14-16)

How is this so? The lyricists of this song assure us:

"You are God alone
From before time began
You were on your throne
You are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on your throne
You are God alone

That's what You are!"

Jesus. Who can come against Him?

If God spared nothing to save us---to the point of Jesus dying on the cross to give us eternal life and reconcile us to the Father---will He not freely give us all things including the safety and peace we so crave for everyday?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flaunt the Truth

"If it doesn't bother them, why should it bother us?" Commented a talk show host on the topic of having not just one but more housewives or partners.

Backtrack to Genesis when the world was still young. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Shot back Cain when the Lord inquired about his brother Abel whom he murdered.

The shrug. The cold shoulder. The "I don't care, it's none of my business!" routine.

That's how we normally respond even if we sense a wrong or when someone is in hot water. Because we'd rather not be involved. Their life is their business, we reason out.

It's as if the whole world's become a stage and we're content to be an audience, a bystander or one who gawks, amused at how people are able to entertain us with their multi-season soap operas.

Of course we couldn't meddle in other people's lives. "Pakialamera" is how we usually label those who stick their nose into other people's affairs. I couldn't tell my neighbor how to live his or her life. Judge not so you will not be judged.

But we must certainly be uneasy and speak out if the lie is flaunted as the truth, or the wrong declared right.

Why has the truth been muffled in the hoopla about same-sex marriage or relationships outside of the sanctity of marriage?

Can it be that more and more young people are believing what they're believing now because right-believers' voices have been stymied by this overpowering truth-is-relative tidal wave---that truth is what one makes it?

For example, in more advanced nations like Australia, it's no longer politically correct to say "husband" or "wife." Use "partner" because live-in couples must not be offended.

It helps, of course, that popular gay celebrities have a long time ago come out of the closet. Elton John proudly announced recently that he and his husband, er, wife(?) are now proud parents of a cute baby.

The same-sex-marriage movement has been rumbling across the USA like the deadly tsunami, pressuring more and more state legislatures to enact laws favoring gay relationships and families. Politicians, eager to please their constituents (read voters) have no choice but to give in to popular thinking.

Hollywood purveys sexual promiscuity like a casual "hi!" and "hello!" handshake. Our own TV celebrities openly talk of their fleeting relationships which sometimes result in babies out of wedlock.

How can we afford to keep quiet when the truth as we know it is now talked about as archaic and jurassic, with no use in our modern techie world?

The truth, as revealed by God all over the bible, and very specifically in the ten commandments, has not changed, and will not change in spite of our grumblings.

"Too old-fashioned!" "Very severe!" "Encroaches on my freedom!" "I have a right to choose and if I suffer, I suffer!"

Suffer hell? Frankly, yes. Disobedience---the bible calls it rebellion---merits nothing less than this.

And those who insist on following their own "truth," are unwittingly taking a roller-coaster dive to that place of eternal fiery punishment. Unless!

God is not willing for any one to perish or be in a constant state of waywardness! That's why He gave us Jesus.

He loves (Yes, His love goes on and will never be diminished in spite of our continuing rebellion!) us all so much that He was willing to send His Son to take the penalty of our sins. Only the saving grace and love of Jesus can open our eyes to the monstrosity of sin and our sinful nature, and enable us to walk obediently.

So in the same way that God was motivated by love, may His love also motivate us to speak out against sin and its eternal consequence for those who continue to scoff at truth as we know it.

I write not as one without sin. I too am a sinner saved by His grace. I once believed my life was my own and that I was accountable to no one. Jesus reoriented my confused mind and gave me a new heart to believe that His was the only way, and His way would lead to life, not condemnation or hell. Someone loved me enough to pray for me and let me know Jesus cared.

We are to be our brothers' keepers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Polaroid Eyes

My heart raced a bit when I saw those blooms.

Blue-violet, bright blue and blue-green flowerettes crowned some shrubs and bushes as I drove home from school yesterday.

"I never saw that before," I mused.

So I did a double take, lifting my sunglasses, and stopping for a while to soak in this rare sight and double-check if my eyes saw what they really saw. "Hey, where did the flowers go?" I thought.

Putting my shades back on and looking at the trees again, those shooting buds were back! And the bigger trees had their leaves in varying shades of deepest greens and blue green. Were my eyes playing a trick on me?

Then I realized: my new polaroid glasses!

I remember the SM saleslady salestalking me into it, "Use this ordinary sunglasses," she insructs. "Now, with these polaroids, look at that same object." I got hooked. The colors behind those polaroids really seemed different and easier on the eyes.

Those "flowers" were in fact just leaves trumpeting their loudest and deepest hues under the sun. Passing by more shrubs and trees, I was a kid again, reveling in the beauty of creation.

But it was not just my polaroids. The sun had a lot to do with this most unusual exprience. Without the bright rays seeping through the atmosphere and highlighting those trees, I wouldn't have seen the hidden colors.

It must have been a million-fold breathtaking when Jesus created the world and He commanded His Alpha and Omega palette of colors to permeate every tree, every grass, every flower and every bit of His creation!

Recall that it was with His own burst of heavenly colors that God promised He would never send the great flood again to destroy the earth. The rainbow sealed that covenant of His grace.

Oh, that we would view everything not just with polaroid lens but with His eyes.

More than this, I pray that we would understand the things happening around us with His wisdom and treat one another with His love and compassion.

Because God didn't stop with just giving us this earth. Jesus himself came down from His exalted place in heaven, became man, died on behalf of sinful humanity, "that those who would believe in Him may have everlasting life and have life to the full."

Now, that's seeing things through His heart!

(Photo credit:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Words to Sink a Ship

"Words! Words! Words! I'm so sick of words! I get words all day through; first from him, now from you. Is that all you blighters can do?"

I'f you've seen the Broadway musical, "My Fair Lady," eons past (some of you may just have been a figment of your mom or dad's imagination then, circa 1960s), you'll recall the main character, Eliza Doolittle, played by legendary actress Audrey Hepburn, ranting about her male admirers' propensity for talking and not acting.

That's what we all are--- talkers first, performers second.

Because words come easy. You can promise, you can wax romantic or poetic, and tickle one's ears with words. But sometimes we spill out words in the same way we burp or pass air or yawn or let out a sigh.

We go careless with words like, "You're stupid!" "What a jerk!" "Oh, s__t!"

We most of the time don't mean it, but words like these can mince and dice and cut through our core, enough to separate one's juice from his pulp.

"My son will not amount to anything," I heard a father speak of his son in the presence of guests, and in the hearing of his son.

"As a man thinks, so is he," says the bible.

I wonder how the father's careless words were reinforced many times over in this young man's mind. I'm not surprised at all that he turned to drugs, never finished his education and led a wayward life.

Words are powerful. God used words to speak the universe into being. "Let there be light, and there was light."

So it is a choice---to use life words that will either build up and bring light to a situation, or killer words which can cut one's spirit to shreds.

And it is words we use everyday to put our country down. I'm guilty of that too.

"Wala nang mangyayari sa bansa natin, hindi na tayo magbabago." "We don't see change happening. Our country will continue to be like this because of graft and corruption." We hear this like a song's constant refrain, during breaktimes, in our tete-a-tete with friends. As a nation thinks, so it is!

If words could kill, and our nation were a boat, then we are now shipwrecked and at the bottom of the ocean because of the killer words we've spoken about our nation and our situation.

We're commanded to pray and speak only of what is noble, true, kind, just, uplifting. Nowhere in the bible are we told to complain. In fact, God hated complainers so much, He caused an entire generation of Jews to die in the desert, letting them go round and round and round in the wilderness for 40 years. And they were His chosen people!

But what about the shenanigans, the corruption? Should we just keep quiet and let the law-breakers do their own thing?

God has appointed leaders and governments to enforce the law. We need to pray for them, and definitely expose corruption and help bring the guilty to task.

Let's pray for our president, our lawmakers and those who need to enforce the law and prosecute the guilty.

But let's cease complaining and let's start obeying the rules which we ourselves are guilty of breaking: bribing municipal officials because we could not wait for our papers to be processed (padulas), crossing the street where we shouldn't, driving through a red light or counter-flow, cutting through a queue, etc., etc!

All of us, not just our government officials, need a change of heart. Unless we all realize this, we will continue to point fingers and complain and be fearful of our children's future in this country.

The people groan if their leaders are corrupt, says the Book of books. So instead of complaining, let's be down on our knees praying, and obeying the law as well.

Blight---anything which destroys, frustrates or causes anything to wither, like a plant.

Eliza Doolittle chirped that those who use, "words, words, words," are blighters. It's a choice we need to make daily to destroy or build up, speak life or death.

If we believe that God is in control, then He is in control. If we believe---especially collectively believe (evidenced by our complaining)---that He isn't, then He'll withhold action.

Come to think of it, our prayers get cancelled out because of our complaining. Faith and fear are like water and oil. They can never mix.

So let's act as if He is in control. Let's be careful with our words and obey His Word.