Wednesday, January 25, 2012

UGLIFIED OR BEAUTIFIED


I rediscovered a pretty nifty word: Uglified, which obviously means to make ugly.

Triggered by its movie version which I watched recently on HBO, I re-read "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (the Chronicles of Narnia series), and got entranced once more by the magical places and characters created by C.S. Lewis.

One of the Narnian queens, Lucy, asks the Magician (about the Duffers he previously made invisible because they were foolish):

"And now that they are visible, are you going to let them off being ugly? Will you make them as they were before?"

"Well, that's rather a delicate question," replies the Magician. "You see, it's only they who think they were so nice to look at before. They say they've been uglified, but that isn't what I called it. Many people think the change was for the better."

Ugly. Beautiful. Who's to say we're one or the other? You'll hear conflicting voices.

White colored people say that black is beautiful. Darker ones would rather be white. Many Pinays dream of snaring Caucasians, to improve the race they say; and turn their backs on chocolatey males, even if they're hunks.

Those with button or flared breathers wouldn't mind going through the knife for a more aquiline nose. My very Asian-looking student intimated that her eyelids have been slit for a more deep-set effect.

Yahoo news recently showed a celebrity's daughter imploring her Mom, "Enough!" because she worried about the latter's incessant trips to the plastic surgeon.

Replied the famous Mom: "But my body is a temple and I need to maintain the beauty of this temple."

Looking at her unmade-up face, one would be quick to conclude that all those human interventions have desecrated her temple, turning her face from beautiful to pitifully awful. Enough already or the temple will crumble!

Besides, the temple she said she wanted to tend like a garden, is destined anyway to dehydrate, sag and shrink further---a sure uglification process.Who can escape that?
Forgive the cliche, but beauty is really in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder usually views others through his own biased or tinted lenses.

Jesus says that what comes from the inside is what makes people ugly.

Mark 15:18: But the things that come out from the mouth come from the heart, and these make the man unclean. Mark 7:21: For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery.

Such thoughts are the filters too through which we judge others, that's why we see ugly or beautiful, despicable or desirable.

God sees more than our exterior. He sees our hearts. That's what we should be more concerned about. Definitely beautify your veneer and upkeep your "temple" because it is the dwelling place of God.

But He alone can thoroughly give you a makeover within so that we can see others not with veiled eyes but through the eyes of Jesus. Then maybe, also, others would regard us differently.

"There's something different about you. You look so peaceful," a friend said to a long lost friend when they bumped into each other in the mall.

"It's all because of His grace," replied the latter, and informed her that her husband just passed away.

Moses spent precious time with God in the mountain. He came down full of His glory.

There's no mistaking the Holy Spirit's glow if you spend time with God. It's light and life radiating from inside and reaches out to others through mouths, eyes, hearts and hands of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness; so that those around you could not help but think:

"There's something about Mary, and whatever it is, I want that too."

That's what it means to be beautified. That's what it means to have the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus alone can transform ugly to lovely!

Monday, January 16, 2012

HEART BURN


(Image from curingheartburn.blogspot.com)

Apart from the added weight, someone I know has been suffering lately from heartburn even if the holiday season is over.

Heartburn is also commonly known as reflux, attributed mostly to stress. Certainly, the rushing to and fro in traffic-congested roads, all that shopping and partying, plus the motley of food and drinks imbibed---all these must be too much for our system to bear, so we turn acidic and "burn".

Our cells subsisting on acidic environment is a prescription for disease. Not a pretty picture, huh.

I'm praying for a heartburn of another kind.

Jesus' disciples experienced it after He rose from the dead. They were distraught when He died on the cross and was eventually buried. The one whom they believed would save Israel seemed to have been forever sealed in a tomb. Oh yes, Jesus told them in advance that on the third day, He would rise again. But that assurance seemed to have faded away as soon as they went their separate ways after His burial.

Their faith was at its lowest. Then on the road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared and explained God's plan. Later as they broke bread together, their eyes were opened as hey beheld Jesus the risen Lord.

After He left, they asked one another in Luke 24:32: "Were not our hearts burning within us when He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Does your heart still burn when you read the bible and discover something new even in the verses you may have read time and again before, and these words become so alive you can actually hold on to them like they were your sustenance for the day or the week even?

Does your heart still burn when you read of Christ's great love, His suffering on our behalf on the cross to ransom us from sin and death?

Does your heart still burn when you realize that this very life you're enjoying today is because of His amazing grace, translated: amazing love, amazing peace, amazing joy, amazing provisions, amazing victory over problems which may be besetting you today?

Does your heart still burn when in spite of discouragements and you being in the verge of giving up, you are bathed with His irresistible grace--so that you have no choice but to humble yourself before Him, cast your cares unto Him, and expect Him to either change your attitude or the situation?

Is your faith at its lowest today? Jesus the risen Lord caught the disciples just at the right time--when their faith was ebbing away.

Jesus caught me that way today, and He assured me, "Believe in me. I have everything under control. You are my child and I will never leave you or forsake you. The battle is not yours but mine."

Praise God for this heartburn.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Peace Treaty

(Wikipedia image) Jesus is referred to in the bible as the Rock of all ages.

Peace accords. Peace agreements. Peace pacts.

They come in many forms and sizes, and world leaders talk of peace negotiations like they're the next big breakthrough against global warming.

Yet we've all seen where these peace intentions ended. Wars within nations as what's happening today in Syria and Libya. Wars between nations, like when the US went after Saddam after 9/11. And lately, Egypt vowing to no longer negotiate any peace accord with Israel. None to follow, they say, after that landmark 1979 treaty brokered by Jimmy Carter between Israel's Menachem Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat.

We have our own share of failed peace talks between rebels and the government in our own corner of the world.

Don't get your hopes up on these. Jesus himself said in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 that before His coming, the earth will be in such turmoil: Wars and rumors of wars. But it's not just about broken peace pacts and civil discord, but the earth trembling at its core, bringing about volcanic eruptions, floods and earthquakes.

We're seeing all these right under our nose and magnified for greater fear by incessant newscasts on cable television.

Jesus said these are just the beginning of birth pains. More to come folks!

Where does one run for safety and protection? Because when it does happen, you will either die or your entire life swept away by the rampaging waters, the lava or the firepower. And if you remain the lone man standing in your clan, what's there to live for?

The blow by blow account of all these tragedies repeatedly pouring into our living rooms are enough to make you tremble.

"They have healed the brokenness of my people superficially, saying 'peace peace' but there is no peace." (Jeremiah 6:14. Message Bible)

If you expect any human institution or the government to engineer peace, you're in for a disappointment. Because the only peace that you could ever attain rests on the one upon whom governments should be depending on but refuse to heed till now.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Unless government leaders submit to the Lordship of Christ, nations will search for solutions in all the wrong places. Can you imagine what our government would be capable of doing if our leaders can just get a grip of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace? Changed hearts ripe for wisdom and righteous governing!

But Jesus says to those who believe and obey Him, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Our government may fail us. Nature may continuously be in uproar. But Jesus promises: peace that passes all understanding. That in spite of calamity, tremors, tsunamis, loss and even death, we can rest in the assurance that He is there to save and to strengthen.

And He will not allow you to be lost, even if you lose your life. He holds your life in the palm of His mighty hand.

That's the only peace treaty you can ever bank on---with your life. Trust in Jesus and you're insured for life. Eternal life. No tsunami, landslide or civil war can take that away from you.

That's a pact sealed forever in heaven.