Wednesday, August 28, 2013


ID-10022038To see is to believe. To believe is to see. On which side are you?

Did you shake hands with Wind today, or rub elbows with Thrust as it propelled a 560 ton plane forward? In your dream, perhaps.

"An airplane in flight is the center of a continuous tug of war between four forces: lift, gravity force or weight, thrust, and drag," says the Aeronautics Learning Laboratory for Science, Technology and Research Network, Florida International University.

Unseen winds and other atmospheric elements power typhoons and tornadoes. These and other natural disasters occuring in greater numbers have a lot to do with the thinning of the earth's ozone layer— invisible, yet there to protect us from the sun's powerful rays.

Forces—they're mostly unseen. Yet they're real, and oftentimes destructive.  They're in between, above, below or around those we see or touch.

Even light is unseen. But we know it's there when, in the morning, darkness retreats to make us see things clearly.

Many insist, "To see is to believe." But it is obvious even from our everyday experience that the obvious is but a fraction, perhaps just a tinge, of reality.

That's why Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” John 20:29.

Believing in Jesus makes it possible to behold and even appreciate the significance of the unseen.

Jesus, the Son of God, created the heavens and the earth—all things visible and invisible, including thrones and dominions and rulers and authorities. He is before all things and all things hold together because of Him! (Colossians 1:16-17)

Well, with scientists discovering more about the earth and our entire universe, the reality of intelligent design by our powerful, though unseen God, has become more compelling.

But you and I believe, not because we've seen first. God declared in the Bible everything He has done and will do; that's why we believe.
Our Creator knows His business! Exhibit numero uno? Our changed lives.

Having been transferred from the dominion of darkness to light, we are changed, not necessarily in the way we look, but inwardly—manifesting in our character.

That's the essence of faith—an inner assurance that in spite of physical circumstance, His promise will come to pass; and that we can count on Him to:

Heal our broken hearts and relationships, and all kinds of disease.

Provide, not just for our survival—but so that we can bless others.

Embrace us with His peace, grace and favor—even as the devil daily tempts us with fears, worries, doubts and the occasional slanders against us.

That's a lot of the unseen working behind the scenes in our favor.

Add to these His angels guarding us day and night so we can sleep or go about our day without fear of disaster.

So the next time you look up to heaven or hear the ocean roar or admire the mountains around you, watch out for unwatchables.

They're unseen, yet powerful; and they happen to be there because our Creator—who breathed His invisible Spirit into mortal man's body—wants to demonstrate His power in your behalf.

That's what the psalmist saw:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."  (Psalm 19:1-4)

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Monday, August 19, 2013


Webster defines courage as the quality of being brave.

It's not about being boastful or cocky, or maangas, in colorful Pinoy. Angas is hollow and intended for show.

Genuine courage compels one to risk his life and convenience, and to stand strong in spite of opposition.

It may be best to demonstrate the concept through characters familiar to us.

Ninoy Aquino manifested courage. He came back to his beloved Philippines—and from a life of comfort in his country of exile—though assassination and imprisonment loomed; as an autocratic regime shamelessly held on to power even if its mandate from the people had clearly expired.

Moses braved imprisonment and rejection by his own people. Notwithstanding his initial hesitation and inability to speak well, he squared off with Pharaoh as he demanded freedom for the Israelites.

In both of these cases, courage gave birth to both nations freeing themselves from abusive regimes.

But we realize too from these stories that the courage of one could not by itself carry a nation to total freedom.

You know the text:

The Philippines todate continues to grapple with corruption—in grander proportions, with the money trail being traced back to the highest corridors of power, Congress.

Moses’ Israel plunged even deeper, with idolatrous practices prevailing and the Jews yearning for the comforts of Egypt even if the land of milk and honey awaited them—guaranteed by the powerful God who protected and provided for them in spite of their insolence.

Euphoria led to discouragement to disillusionment. Back to square one.

Because courage is not for heroes alone. It’s part of God’s armor we individually clothe ourselves with daily.

If the devil could not scare us with diseases, loneliness or lack, he will attack us and will mostly be successful with keeping us discouraged, Pastor Robert Solijon taught us recently.

It is easy to be discouraged and fearful when the media daily dumps on us corruption, crime and calamity stories.

It is easy to come unhinged when you realize that because of your inadequate earnings, your daughter could not be enrolled next term; or when, in spite of your having taught him well, your son chooses to live with another guy.

But we know of no other option: To turn to the One who has won the victory for us more than  two thousand years ago.

Paul encourages us in Hebrews 12:2 to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus intercedes for us day and night, 24/7.

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart,” Hebrews 12:3.

“Pray and obey for there’s no other way,” should continue to resonate in our hearts. Pray and obey and see the impossible turn possible.

For our nation, it all comes down to this:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2Chronicles 7:14)

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Sunday, August 11, 2013


ID-10035368"Let's meet at 2 pm," you suggest to your friend. 

Oh yes, he gets all enthusiastic and agrees, "OK, see you at 2 pm!"

An hour passes; and still, no shadow of your friend.

Sounds familiar? One sets a meeting at a certain time. It's quite normal that at the appointed time, no one, not even the one who called for it, is present. 

It's prevalent---no, it's a norm in the Philippines. That's why it's called Filipino time. 

I'm pretty sure you're familiar with this: Your receive a formal invitation to a wedding. Clearly printed are the  date, time and place for the ceremony and reception. Whew, you make it exactly on time in spite of the traffic. Inside the church, you see just a handful of souls, so you ask yourself, "Did I get the date or time wrong?"

No, you didn't! You're in the Philippines! Where three o'clock may mean 3:15 or 4:00 pm. 

Volumes of articles must have been written about Filipino time and its negative effects; yet everyone seems to have cuddled it like some valuable heirloom. Pamana by our Spanish colonizers---but haven't we beaten the passed-on-by-our-colonial-masters excuse to death?   

Today's more convenient excuse? Ay, sobrang traffic! But how come others make it on time anyway? Many have plainly treated lateness as a cute Filipino thing. You can't lose your temper because of it, so why not just embrace it?

But doesn't lateness mirror character? Isn't punctuality synonymous with commitment and discipline? 

"I respect and esteem you, that's why I take the extra effort to make it on time." That's what we're really saying to someone if we come for an appointment on time. 

It goes back to character building 101: 

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master's happiness!" Matthew 25:21

Time is precious commodity. We've got only twelve hours in a day. No more, no less.

If you're an office worker: four hours more or less to commute to and from work (with traffic factored in); then eight hours to work plus a one-hour lunch break.

At home and elsewhere: seven hours for sleep;  two hours to bond with loved ones over breakfast and dinner; and maybe two hours for either household chores, exercise, shopping, or once in a while socializing with friends and other relatives.

That's why we can't squander time. Like seed or talent or any other object, time is a resource, and must be managed wisely. No wonder Jesus taught us to make use of our resources wisely. 

Whatever time spent must yield something. In modern or industrial parlance, that's productivity. 

Companies value their workers' ability to come to work on time and meet deadlines, along with their commitment to deliver excellent results. Promotions and salary increases are bundled with productivity, or producing more at the time allotted.

But more than solely aiming for promotion or hefty financial rewards, shouldn't we, being Christians, aim for His approval first and foremost? Don't forget your testimony! You are salt and light, even when it comes to time management.

Promotion comes from the Lord---He uses your boss to show you favor. 

Be on time, pretty please?

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Sunday, August 4, 2013


"Huwag!" "Bawal!" "Don’t to that!” 

Are your kids used to hearing these from you? How do they respond?

Two ways, probably: they'll obey; or do the exact opposite to test how far they could push their boundaries.

One school of thought cautions against too much "don'ts". Its proponents believe that imposing too much don'ts reinforces a fearful and over-cautious attitude, rendering a child averse to risk-taking and thinking outside the box. 

But good don'ts are necessary. We certainly don’t want our kids driving off the cliff just because we didn't warn them about the dangers of overspeeding or drunk driving. 

"Don't engage in promiscuity," should be said even if we encourage them to enjoy their youth. Because they should be aware of the boundaries.

Curiously, even God’s first ever written training manual highlighted eight don’ts. The only two affirmatives dealt with keeping the Sabbath holy and honoring one’s father and mother. 

A “don’t!" packs a wallop, doesn't it? "Don't play in the mud," certainly sounds more imposing than, "Keep off the mud and stay clean." 

When God says, "Don't," the red light flashes. He doesn’t mince words to make sure we don't veer to the left or to the right.

Consider His first and second commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

But He right away explains why...

“For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…” 

And finishes off with a revelation of His heart and His grace:

“… and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Those who heed His warnings get to experience His mercy and love! 

He has set the example. By all means warn, forbid. But don't end with that. Explain the consequence. Use the warning as an opportunity to reaffirm your love for your child, as well as the rewards that follow as a result of obedience. Fear will have no place in a home dwelt in by God's love and grace.  

A beautiful kind of fear will instead guide them:

"Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. The FEAR of the LORD is the beginning of WISDOM, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:9-10

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