Monday, December 26, 2011


Every year, it’s the same boring news towards the end of the year:

Health authorities and the police warning the public to go easy on firecrackers and the firing of guns.

Hospitals getting ready for firecracker victims.

Yet, they still come in droves---adults and young alike rushed to hospitals for firecracker burns, mangled hands or legs, or because houses were burned, due to their fondness for fireworks.

The media will of course exploit these incidents in their usual soap-operatic fashion, getting these boys and so-called men on camera as they wail in pain and promise to no longer have anything to do with these stuff. Of course they’ve learned their lesson.

Orthopedic surgeons, trauma teams and TV audiences could only shake their heads in dismay or amazement.

Aren’t we just one big nation of revel-seekers who will risk everything for a few minutes of entertainment and fun. Mga pasaway! We know how bad it is yet we persist in doing it because it feels good.

Let’s pray everyone heeds our authorities’ appeals: Be content with the fireworks displays by your municipalities or the big malls. Besides, you can put your money to better use by donating to organizations doing relief work for victims of typhoon Sendong.

But here’s my personal challenge to you: Instead of being out there singing Auld Lang Syne and making noise as you count down the minutes to end the year, be alone or invite like-minded individuals to join you in a room.

Praise and worship God and pray for the Greater Fire to rain down on you.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Act 2:1-4)

The only fire that works, which doesn’t mangle or destroy, will surely put you on track for the bigger challenges of 2012.

Stop putting your trust on firecrackers to ward off evil, or round fruits and coins or polka-dotted dresses to usher in your good fortune.

God is the giver of every good thing! He will bless and make your life abound if you put your trust in Him. Trusting Him means doing things by the Book. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to give us His wisdom in time of need.

Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The disciples’ lives were never the same after Pentecost day.

Now that’s the only Fire we need to keep us going and going and going in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


photo from
The unthinkable happened again in Mindanao. This time, in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, flash floods recently devastated whole communities, leaving almost a thousand dead and hundreds missing.

Seen at the scene: Logs washed off by unrelenting rainfall.

Hold it right there. Didn't the President's EO 23 declare a total log ban February this year, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the helm of a multi-departmental task force---with muscle from the Department of National Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police---to stamp out illegal logging?

One of the Executive Order's objectives is to suspend the harvesting of trees in natural and residual forests, including those of legal tenure holders.

It sounds eerie and ironic then, when DENR reported after the Mindanao tragedies, that people died and infrastructures were damaged because of flashfloods bringing down logs---attributed to illegal logging.

Let's get the facts straight: If our forests are severely guarded, why the cut logs? For 20 years now, no natural and residual forest logging should have been happening in Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon. DENR even reports massive reforestation programs in the area. Where are the trees and where has all the funding gone?

This brings us back to the main issue: Is total log ban the solution? Or did the total log ban open the floodgates for more illegal loggers and kaingeros (the biggest culprits, by the way, for the disappearance of our forests) to have their field day in our once fully-protected and scientifically-managed legal tenure forests? Why this in spite of supposed efforts to guard our forests?

Mr. President, we once had robust and productive forests, at least those under the care of legitimate investors. These forests will soon be gone too if EO 23 is not amended to distinguish between legal and illegal forestry---since these parties and their partners-in-crime are loyal only to their pocketbooks.

On the other hand, legitimate foresters invest and provide employment in the countryside, pay their taxes, replenish their cuttings and ensure the sustainability of forests under their care, and abide by DENR regulations. This kind of arrangement has worked well in many countries which apply scientific forestry---the route we must seek now to avert the massive degradation of Philippine forests.

It's funny that while legitimate forestry is banned, the Philippines continues to import wood from other countries. That gives you an idea that they're managing and we're not. Faithful stewardship is the key!

Illegal logging must be stopped by all means. At its helm is the Big C. Corruption involves collusion. We recall this administration promising to put the brakes on this national malady.

It is pretty clear when God commanded Adam (Gen 2:28b) to "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it," He meant for man to manage and not let God's creation be subject to abuse or irresponsible use. Global warming has been one of its increasingly worrying consequences (la nina and el nino)---one which must be addressed too by all governments.

But in the case of taking care of our forests, let the facts be now separated from fiction. Let the noise of debates and blame-throwing give way now to sober consultations based on scientific and real evidence, and not emotional, deceitful and one-sided arguments.

Without WISE leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers. Prov 11:14

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Let's eavesdrop on this conversation between the creators of "Superman," "The Twilight" saga, and "Batman:"

"Superman is the greatest of all superheroes. He's super strong, cuts through air as a bullet and pierces one's being with laser eyes," says Jerry Siegel, echoing his partner Joe Shuster's argument.

"He may be that, but he's far from possessing the charisma and powers of my immortal vampire," counters Stephenie Meyer.

Bob Kane remarks, "But your characters are not human. Batman is flesh and blood, yet he triumphs over evil because of his passion for justice, sheer intelligence and because he is rich and tinkers with technology."

Which super person appeals to you?

I once swooned over Superman because his movie persona in Christopher Reeve simply behaved heroic. I hate vampire stories so I've never attempted to read them. Batman seemed human and vulnerable, yes; but he just had an ax to grind for the murder of his parents.

Well, we view these super beings for their entertainment value, a temporary escape from the conundrum of our earthly woes.

But come to think of it, we too identify with them in a big way---this need to be needed, validated, elevated, exalted, immortalized. That's why Hollywood has flooded us with sequels and prequels of the same. Why do millions of young people all over the world clamor for more of Robert Pattinson's vampire or Harry Potter's Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?

Could it be because it is in our nature to crave power and soar where no one has gone before? To want to be in control and have no one lording it over us?

Very reminiscent of this garden scene: Eve biting into the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She didn't do it because the fruit seemed yummy, but because she imagined she could be as wise as God.

"For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5), Satan tempted.

It does sound like: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." (Famous words from William Ernest Henley's "Invictus"); or Frank Sinatra's "My Way." Precisely my motto in my younger days when I didn't have Jesus in my life.

I felt I didn't need to answer to anybody or needed help from any one. "
Kaya ng powers ko, kasi magaling ako!" So much like Eve, aspiring to be like God.

It's that "SUPER" in me! Super-sized ego says, "I have to fight my way to get what I want. I am my own man."

How many of us have sung "May Way," only to discover that motto was leading us to hell? Jesus is the Way!

"Apart from me, you can do nothing," Jesus says in John 15:5. "I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit."

Either He is Lord or you are Lord. He is Il Divo, the Mega Star; and we're just the back-up singers.

It's sobering to be reminded that we're not the main act. More to the point, we are but dust.

"The Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into His nostrils the breath of life, and man became a human being" (Genesis 2:7).

I've very recently witnessed the remains of a loved one cremated in just more than an hour, his ashes packed in a bag no larger than a purse which then went into an urn, the ashes' permanent resting place.

Our cemeteries prove that once robust, healthy and strong individuals meet their end somehow; and what remains testify to their mortality. Life is a breath, here today and gone tomorrow.

A dictator, once powerful and feared, met his end while as a rat he hid in a foul sewer---hunted down by mobs.

What's sobering too is, in spite of us being dust, He breathed His life unto us. We are alive only by the grace of God. The Great Potter is everything; Harry Potter is nothing.

So even if our dusty being returns to earth, we are assured of one thing: our spirit, made alive through our faith in Christ, goes back to Him---for the super (note, in lower case) in man to dwell with his Creator forever and ever.

Power? That's the least of our concerns. Part of believing in Jesus comes empowerment anyway. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." David and Joseph and Peter and Paul, as well as those who follow the Way today, have proven this to be true in their lives.

That's power greater than any human power combined!

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15: 7-9)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Tragedy of Form

"I look so nifty and shiny," Ms. Wrapper said one day.

"Oh, yes you do," replied Mr. Ribbon. "Wouldn't it be lovely if we joined forces? We could make so many people happy!"

"But first we should have a box," continued Mr. Ribbon. "And the gift to fill the box, of course."

"Na-ah, why do we need a content for? We'd look just as lovely by ourselves," replied Ms. Wrapper.

And so Ms. Wrapper and Mr. Ribbon became one, to the delight of many. Of course no one knew their secret.

Form. That's how a lot of people in the world celebrate Christmas year in and year out.

It feels good to see all the giant Christmas trees, bedecked with lights and ribbons---and Christmas carols playing in the background for the intended emotional high, befitting the season.

But even as we speak, "Christmas" is being taken off Christmas by those concerned with political correctness---so others would not be offended.

Christmas, as I've originally been taught since childhood is about Jesus. I for one had been clueless about Him for years, but since that fateful night that I confessed Him as my Savior and Lord, he became more real to me on a daily basis. Christ has been my daily bread.

And I look forward to Christmas as Jesus' big birthday bash. A birthday celebration like that could not help but attract attention, as it should. So flaunt it, all of you who confess that Jesus is Savior and Lord of all! That's the reason we celebrate Christmas, nothing more!

It's about shouting from the housetops that Jesus was born that first Christmas day to seek and save the lost. It's about God's love for sinners like you and me who could not save ourselves by our own good works. It's about His grace demonstrated when Christ hang on the cross for the sin of mankind, saying: "All is finished."

Jesus paid for everything, all we need to do is believe and obey. Christmas is all about Jesus!

That's why I'm offended that the big party's original intent is waylaid by party-poopers dictating that the Christmas tree should from now on be called a holiday tree, or that the correct greeting should be "Happy holidays!"

Or that the spirit of the season comes from the putting up of trees and tinsels and twinkles; or the indulgence in food and booze and lewd presentations in supposed "Christmas parties."

The Christmas Spirit is the Spirit of God who for the joy set before Him (our salvation) sacrificed His Son for our lifetime of Christmas.

But I don't want to be a party-pooper either. Go ahead. Buy your gifts, prepare a feast, enjoy your family reunion. Jesus wants us to enjoy His party.

Just don't forget that in His party, Ms. Wrapper and Mr. Ribbon should not have their way. It would be a complete tragedy to celebrate Christmas without unwrapping the gift, beholding the best gift ever, and enjoying a lifetime of Grace.

The only gift that matters this Christmas is Christ.

If Jesus has just been a name to you (as He was in my head for many years), the gift He offers you this Christmas is Christ in you! A personal relationship with Father God through His first born.

Have you received this gift yet?

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion---to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness, instead of mourning, and a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair... (Isaiah 61:1-3a).