Saturday, December 17, 2005

All for Love



















All For Love
(Hillsongs-United Live- More Than Life Album)

All for love a father gave
For only love could make a way
All for love the heavens cried
For love was crucified

Oh how many times have I broken Your heart
But still You forgive if only I ask
And how many times have You heard me pray
Draw near to me

CHORUS:

Everything I need is You
My beginning my forever
Everything I need is You
Let me sing all for love
I will join the angel song
Ever holy is the Lord
King of glory King of all

All for love a Saviour prayed
Abba Father have Your way

Though they know not what they do

Let the cross draw man to You

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Truth about Sin and Condemnation

I read an email story about an American pastor, Minister Joe Wright, describing how he said his prayers for the opening session of the Kansas House of Representatives. The following were Rev. Wright's words:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called
it building self esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography
and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our
forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse
us from every sin and set us free. Amen!"

After delivering the prayer, one Democrat walked out in protest, three others gave speeches critical of Wright's statements. In an interview Rev. Wright said, "I certainly did not mean to be offensive to individuals, but I don't apologize for the truth."

Wright’s prayer touched the issue of sin, which people are not always comfortable with. There has been a tense debate about whether an action could be considered as always right or always wrong. Many people are irritated when they are described as “sinful”. The truth remains. The Bible declares that all people are sinful and fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

The crucial part is how people respond to this truth. Many shrug the thing off their shoulders while others cannot live with the notion that they are “dirty” and unworthy of God’s love. Consider the vast difference between a cat and a pig. Take both and throw them into a muddy pool. The pig rolls over and enjoys the dirt while the cat immediately removes the dirt from itself.

There has been a solution to the sin problem. Forgiveness is always available for those who seek it. I John 1:9 states that “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Generations are for Christ

The Generation 3:16 Ministries is a non-profit, non-sectarian, full-gospel Christian ministry which aims to reach out the youth for Christ ( in- and out- of school youth, working and with special needs). The Rizal High School campus in Pasig serves as the launching pad of the ministry. With the assistance of my wife and two youth leaders, outreach Bible studies were formally started on July 2, 2005. From 12 students, the GEN316 Ministries currently gathers an average of 40 students every Friday at tambayan near the RHS Campus. Lives are being changed. Young people are given the opportunity to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal and biblical way. It is only through Him that we can know the fullness and character of God because He is the only way to heaven (John 14:6).

GEN316 Ministries carries the heart of the gospel: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life". (John 3:16). The FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS state:

[LAW ONE] God LOVES you and offers a wonderful PLAN for your life.

(References contained on this Home Page are linked to the actual verses from the Bible and should be read in context wherever possible.)

God's Love
"God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NIV).

God's Plan
[Christ speaking] "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" [that it might be full and meaningful] (John 10:10).

Why is it that most people are not experiencing the abundant life?
Because...


[LAW TWO] Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.

Man Is Sinful
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way, and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

Man Is Separated
"The wages of sin is death" [spiritual separation from God] (Romans 6:23).

[LAW 2 DIAGRAM]

This diagram illustrates that God is holy and man is sinful. A great gulf separates the two. The arrows illustrate that man is continually trying to reach God and the abundant life through his own efforts, such as a good life, philosophy, or religion - but he inevitably fails.

The third law explains the only way to bridge this gulf...


[LAW THREE] Jesus Christ is God's ONLY provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life.

He Died in Our Place
"God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

He Rose From the Dead
"Christ died for our sins...He was buried...He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures...He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred..." (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

He Is the Only Way to God
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me'" (John 14:6).

[LAW 3 DIAGRAM]

This diagram illustrates that God has bridged the gulf which separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

It is not enough just to know these three laws...


[LAW FOUR] We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.

We Must Receive Christ
"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12)

We Receive Christ Through Faith
"By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9).

When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth
(Read John 3:1-8.)

We Receive Christ by Personal Invitation
[Christ speaking] "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20).

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us what He wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.

(Source: Campus Crusade for Christ: http://www.greatcom.org/laws/)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Chacha and the Debate between Agency and Structure

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s proposals to change the Constitution and adopt the federal-type, parliamentary system were vehemently opposed by the Senate the first day it was raised and deliberated in the chamber. This only means that the president's strategy is ineffective and inappropriate for the current situation. This can be said, for several reasons. First, the president implies that the Gloriagate scandal should be swept under the rug and go on with politics as usual. Arroyo not only lost her moral ascendancy to govern the country but also diminished the prospects for governing the country effectively. It is expected that Malacanang’s apologists will face more issues and accusations
in the coming months. This, in turn, could further dissipate the Arroyo administration’s energy hence weakening the president’s competence.
Second, the president presumed that as long as she has a grip on the majority of the Lower House representatives, she could determine the political trajectory of the Senate. This proved to be false. Dead on arrival was the fate of her Charter change proposal when 14 Senators opposed the idea. This scenario magnifies the struggling government who has been having difficulty soliciting the support of both Houses.
Third, furthering a Constituent Assembly instead of a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution only magnifies Malacanang’s desperation to railroad another political agenda with serious national implications. President Arroyo thought that she could accomplish this since she did it when the Congress passed the six major tax measures she proposed, including the E-VAT which is currently under fire. Arroyo even maintained that Charter Change "is the exclusive prerogative of Congress," and the constituent assembly "may well give our people the quickest reforms." This makes the democratic character of the process as another major question to be straightforwardly resolved. Malacanang must convince the public that our “honorable” senators and representatives are worthy to take the cudgels to change the ultimate law of the land.
Taking the Con-Ass (Constitutional Assembly) path reinforces the notion that the president is planning for a graceful exit. She just cannot afford to follow the fate of his predecessor, former president Estrada, who was removed from power through People Power 2. Hence, Charter Change can pave the way for a so-called acceptable and “sacrificial lamb mode” of stepping down from the presidency. The shift from the presidential to the parliamentary form of governance is envisioned to address the need to empower the local governments. The president’s SONA received a long applause when she said that “"perhaps it's time to take the power from the center to the countryside." The call for a federal Philippines appears to have greatly reverberated over the gridlocks of the presidential system which caused the political distribution of power to be skewed to urban centers. This is contrary to the fact that the president received more support from the rural areas during the 2004 elections.
Senate President Drilon has been arguing that as long as the agents inside the political system continue with their traditional and entrenched way of doing governance, no amount of Charter amendments can put an end to the current socio-politico-economic crisis. On one hand, one of my feisty Political Science professors once argued that structure can greatly influence the behavior of the actors inside the system. People just need to be constrained and be shaped according to preset “rules of the game”. And the greatest rule of the land is the Constitution.
God’s Word is also clear on how people should perceive the government. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Governments must be patterned after God’s standards and righteousness. This implies that any government institution must reflect the nature of its real Creator. But this can only transpire if men and women of integrity, righteousness and justice reign in the government.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Divided and Fragmented Nation

The past few weeks saw the usual political brouhaha between the Arroyo administration and opposition parties. The admission of Arroyo that she was the one speaking with Commissioner Garcillano in the tapes was just an episode of an unpredictable political telenovela. Just like “Annaluna”, the drama series depicting the plight of an abused and martyr child, which I used to patronize during my elementary years, this political crisis has no definite ending. Annaluna’s long plot which spanned for five years irritated its avid viewers. It jumped from one TV station to another and went around circles. It followed the tradition of Voltes V series which often fails to broadcast the culminating episode. In the same vein the Gloriagate scandal is a deep, long tunnel, with no expected light at its end. It will continue to irritate its spectators and sow discomfort to the people.

Eighteen years ago, an American “parachutist” chanced upon the Philippines and dubbed our society as a damaged culture. During that time, Atlantic Monthly writer James Fallows was perceived as a jeering and arrogant observer who deserved to be lynched. Now, eighteen years later, amidst the political scandal the Arroyo administration is facing, his thesis proves to be instructive. Indeed, we exhibit a fractured notion of national unity. The controversy revealed that Filipinos are not only divided, but moreso, fragmented. So far, the following options are presented.

  1. Voluntary resignation of GMA
  2. Impeachment
  3. Truth Commission
  4. Snap Election
  5. Interim Caretaker government

The divided opposition provides more ammunition to the Arroyo administration’s case. The Estrada-led party wants a caretaker government, the CBCP endorses a Truth Commission, Brother Eddie wants a transition, revolutionary government to be elected by the people, other parties desire to pursue a snap election, while opposition Representatives are gravitated towards an impeachment proceedings. Overall, percolating these proposals to provide a good mix is a tall order. The difficulty of arriving at a consensus is the major factor why the middle class and the general public are resistant to change. No amount of protest rallies or cabinet member resignation can entice the people to repeat the EDSA revolution scenarios. As former Senator Jovito Salonga intelligently stated, “the time is not yet ripe for another serious uprising.” People Power does not happen by accident but reinforced by amalgam of social, economic, cultural and political factors.

The voluntary resignation of GMA is now considered just “one of the options.” Although 80% of the people think that GMA rigged the elections, the Filipinos’ forgiving culture frustrates any attempt to forcefully evict a cheating president. It appears that the status quo is still the best option for the present situation, until the divided opposition arrived at a popular and acceptable consensus. Christ’s words remain true: “..every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand'. (Matthew 12:25).

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Drawing Wisdom from Nixon's Resignation

Below are some excerpts of President Nixon's resignation speech delivered on August 8, 1974 at the White House. I highlighted the portions I think revealed the sincerity of the president's apologies.

----
Good evening.

This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.

In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.

In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.

I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interests of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.

From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.

To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.

As I recall the high hopes for America with which we began this second term, I feel a great sadness that I will not be here in this office working on your behalf to achieve those hopes in the next 2 1/2 years. But in turning over direction of the Government to Vice President Ford, I know, as I told the Nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of America will be in good hands.

In passing this office to the Vice President, I also do so with the profound sense of the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders tomorrow and, therefore, of the understanding, the patience, the cooperation he will need from all Americans.

As he assumes that responsibility, he will deserve the help and the support of all of us. As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this Nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us, and to rediscover those shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.

By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.

I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.

To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.

And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.

So, let us all now join together in affirming that common commitment and in helping our new President succeed for the benefit of all Americans.

I shall leave this office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as your President for the past 5 1/2 years. These years have been a momentous time in the history of our Nation and the world. They have been a time of achievement in which we can all be proud, achievements that represent the shared efforts of the Administration, the Congress, and the people.

(...)

There is one cause above all to which I have been devoted and to which I shall always be devoted for as long as I live.

When I first took the oath of office as President 5 1/2 years ago, I made this sacred commitment, to "consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can summon to the cause of peace among nations."

I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge. As a result of these efforts, I am confident that the world is a safer place today, not only for the people of America but for the people of all nations, and that all of our children have a better chance than before of living in peace rather than dying in war.

This, more than anything, is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the Presidency. This, more than anything, is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the Presidency.

To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God's grace be with you in all the days ahead.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

People Power Fatigue or Middle Class Ignorance?

Recent attempts by various social movements to gather support for the quick resignation of President Arroyo seem to receive cold responses from the public. Is it an instance of People Power fatigue or just a pure case of middle class apathy due to ignorance? I maintain that the latter is the more plausible explanation.

It must be noted that the middle class sector was the primary initiator of the two EDSA uprisings (note: they were not revolutions as the people were made to believe, but rather only a political change). Currently, this segment of Philippine society has yet to hear the “Gloriagate tapes” in full detail. The sector’s ambivalence toward the Gloriagate can be ascribed to its ignorance of the contents of the audio conversations. Many students and professionals are still clueless regarding the implications of the conversations between GMA and Garcillano. It is very difficult to believe on something you never experienced. If the people could only hear the exchange of words among First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, former senator Barbers and Garcillano, on how the three desired to sabotage the election results, they could also sense the outrage that leftist groups have been exhibiting since the emergence of the scandal.

A PACIFIST STATEMENT

I find the pastoral statement of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales instructive. For the Archbishop, five guidelines must be followed to peacefully resolve the current socio-political impasse.

First, “the offended cannot simply be consoled by expressions of regret. Forgiveness does not eliminate the need for justice, nor should it block the search for truth”.

Second, “the pursuit of truth regarding the grave charges against leaders and officials should be conducted within the provisions of our Constitution and should respect the laws of the land. Any proposition that disregards our constitutional and legal systems weakens our institutions and paves the way for a graver instability that can cause more profound suffering to our people.”

Third, “any proposed solution to our present situation that relies on or leads to violence is unacceptable.”

Fourth, “leaders must give people hope, by giving immediate attention to authentic reform.”

Finally, “in these confusing times when people are easily swayed by emotions and led astray by quick-fix solutions, may cooler heads prevail. Let true lovers of the Filipino people come together to discern carefully before God, what is truly for the immediate and long-run good of our country.”

It is my position that the public must listen and given access to to the audio recordings for them to appropriately discern the truth. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has the audio files which can be downloaded from their blogspot http://www.pcij.org/blog. The president has admitted the wrongdoing. It means that she validated the truth behind the tape conversations. Even if the tapes were illegally acquired and recorded, the fact does not change---Mrs. Arroyo attempted to influence the results of the elections.

The truth will always set us free (John 8:32).

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Should we forgive the president?

After three weeks, President Arroyo broke her silence regarding the controversial wiretapped tapes containing her conversations with COMELEC Commissioner Garcillano. In a televised speech, she beseeched the country’s forgiveness. The opposition party was not convinced about the sincerity of the president. The Filipino people are polarized about the question, Should Arroyo be given another chance to prove her worth as the highest official of the land? First, let's start with what Jesus teaches about forgiveness.

Matthew 18 contains the parable of the unforgiving servant and the great encounter of an apostle with the Messiah. Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). The apostle's question reflected his limited notion of forgiveness. As if, Peter is saying to the Lord, "You don't expect me to always forgive a habitual sinner and offender, do you?" Peter's inquiry is revealing since forgiveness is indeed an issue of the heart. When we ask, how many times? it means we posses a notion of limited love and mercy. When we ask, Should I? We hold the idea that withholding forgiveness is an option. Peter was a Jew who knew the rabbinical teaching on forgiveness. It was a cardinal rule that it should not be extended more than three times. But this law had become like a religious ritual, a legalist activity which does not please God---an act out of compliance to rule. Consequently, self-righteousness becomes the breeding ground for pride.

When Jesus replied, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. The Lord is basically saying that forgiveness should not have a boundary. It does not keep a record of wrongdoings (I Corinthians 13). A heart that forgives is a heart that is always ready to reconcile.

I remember the case of President Clinton when he confessed to the American people his breaking of the seventh (adultery) and ninth (false witness) commandments of the Bible. Likewise, it took him more time to apologize. That’s understandable since a public confession could have serious ramifications to his credibility as a president and the integrity of his office. The same case applies to Mrs. Arroyo.

Overall, should we forgive the President? In a word, yes. Biblical principles call for it. If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us (Matt. 6:14- 15). We must even forgive our enemies (Luke 11:4; 23:34). What if there are doubts about the sincerity of someone's apology? We should still forgive. The Lord does not provide us a right or the ability to judge whether an apology is genuine or not. That is God's business because he is the only one who searches the deepest parts of a person’s heart (Jeremiah 17:10).

Nonetheless, Mrs. Arroyo has to suffer the consequences of her so-called “lapses in judgment”. The president may be fully forgiven for her sins but may still have to face the consequences for them. I think that would be the “make or break” situation for the Arroyo administration. Remember David’s sins against the Lord and Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. He orchestrated the murder of Uriah to get the attractive woman. It was not until David was rebuked by prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12:13a) and confessed his sins that God forgave him. Nathan said to him, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die” (v. 13b). But the judgment was coupled with a consequence. His first son with Bathsheba died. Even fasting and public expression of repentance became insignificant.

Receiving forgiveness for sin and facing the consequences of sin are two different matters. But those us who have received forgiveness for all our sins through Jesus Christ should exhibit the most forgiving attitude of all (Matt. 18:23-35).



Billy and His Last Crusade

A great man of God. I can say above reproach. Billy was able to focus his eyes on the author and finisher of his faith. He never swayed from his real calling to be a great evangelist. Kathryn Kuhlman, another woman of God, even declared that no person should touch this anointed servant of God, else he/she is antagonizing God himself. Dr. Graham is known to be a man of one book--the Bible. He just doesn't quote the Word when he is on the pulpit, but more importantly, he lives it. He gains strength from and for Christ, and he will give his last breath for the One Who is the giver of true life (John 10:10b). Dr. Graham has fought the good fight of faith. Indeed, one of the great Christians who revealed to nations how to know and live for the Savior.

----
NEW YORK (AFP) - Tens of thousands of evangelical Christians gathered in New York for what the country's best-known preacher, Billy Graham, said would be his final "crusade" for souls in the United States.

Some 70,000 seats were laid out for the event in Corona Park, Queens, with room for thousands more in dedicated overflow sections.

Spanning three-days, the mass prayer meeting was free to everyone, with local churches, individual donors and on-the-spot offerings helping to meet the estimated 6.8 million dollar staging costs.

Attendance was expected to be especially high after Graham, now 86 and in failing health, confirmed that his latest soul-saving mission would also be his last in this country.

The man once described by former president George H.W. Bush as "America's pastor" has preached the gospel to more than 200 million people in 180 countries and territories.

In recent years, however, the globetrotting preacher has been curtailed by declining physical health. Graham suffers from Parkinson's disease, fluid on the brain and prostate cancer, and uses a walker following a pelvic fracture in 2004.

Graham was scheduled to deliver three, 35-minute sermons on each evening of the crusade in Queens, although his son Franklin was standing by as a substitute preacher if needed.

Franklin, 52, is his father's designated successor, having already taken over as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Thousands of volunteers from more than 1,300 New York area churches have helped in organising the event.

Reflecting New York's ethnic diversity, headsets were made available providing simultaneous translations in 20 languages from Hungarian to Hindi.

More than 250,000 people turned out for Graham's last New York crusade in Manhattan's Central Park in 1991.

Born in 1918 in North Carolina, Graham was ordained in 1939.

He established his preaching credentials at a rally in Los Angeles in 1949, but really rose to national prominence with a 1957 crusade at New York's Madison Square Garden, which was scheduled for six weeks but lasted four months.

Asked why he chose New York -- often seen as a symbol of secular America -- for his last US crusade, Graham cited the ethnic diversity of the city as well as the need for spiritual healing in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Graham has been invited to the White House by every president since Harry Truman and has prayed at eight presidential inaugurals. He even managed two visits in 1992 and 1994 to the isolated Stalinist state of North Korea.

His enduring popularity at home is partly attributable to his avoidance of any of the sexual or financial scandals that afflicted a number of the evangelists he inspired.

In his later years, he has also kept away from hot-button political issues like homosexual rights that have become a favoured battleground for many on the evangelical right.

"There are many times I went too far in talking about those issues. I think this time, I want to stick only to the Gospel," he told a press conference ahead of the New York crusade.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Decade after High School


Sampung taon na pala matapos ko lisanin ang haiskul. Parang kailan lang. Posted here are our first and fourth year class photos. Nagsimula kami sa 50, pagdating ng second year, mga 30+ na lang. Nang mag-third year at fourth year, 28 na lang kami. I am proud to be a Rizalian! My alma mater used to be the largest high school in the world in terms of population (it may be a function of poor education system, with the SEDP curriculum admit all policy). Hindi ako Sharonian, pero I like the song below which reminds me of fond memories of and my foolishness during my high school years...
HIGH SCHOOL LIFE
High school life, on my high school life
Ev'ry memory, kay ganda
High school days, oh my high school days
Are exciting, kay saya

There are times, may problema ka
Kung ang homework, left undone
Pray ka lang, 'wag tawagin ka
Upang di pagtawanan

High school love my one high school love
Not infatuation or crush
Tunay 'to s'ya ang buhay ko
Di n'yo lang alam ako'y nagba-blush

Bakit nga ba ang first love ko
Ay di serious, so it seems
Kung alam lang ng first love ko
He is always in my dreams

Ang saya ng high school
Same in yours and my school
Di na mapapantayan
T'yak ganyan ang buhay na sadyang makulay
Alaala kaylan man

High school life, on my high school life
Ev'ry memory, kay ganda
High school days, oh my high school days
Are exciting, kay saya

High school life, ba't ang high school life
Ay walang kasing saya?
Bakit kung Graduation na'y
Luluha kang talaga?

High school life, ba't ang high school life
Ay walang kasing saya?
Bakit kung Graduation na'y
Luluha kang talaga?

Ang saya ng high school
Same in yours and my school
Di na mapapantayan
T'yak ganyan ang buhay na sadyang makulay
Alaala kaylan man

High school life, on my high school life
Ev'ry memory, kay ganda
High school days, oh my high school days
Are exciting, kay saya

High school life, ba't ang high school life
Ay walang kasing saya?
Bakit kung Graduation na'y
Luluha kang talaga?
(REPEAT 2 MORE TIMES)


Nakita na ninyo ako sa litrato?

revisiting my old article about brother eddie

After two months of hiatus, I updated my blog. Mainly because of liberation theology. I am currently finishing an article about Bangon Pilipinas' politicization. I am posting here the article I circulated days before the elections supporting Brother Eddie's candidacy. But many things have changed since May 2004---from Bangon's spiritual platform to apparent social activism after the elections. This article maybe a good starting point to open the discussion about the theology of struggle in the Philippines and maintaining a good distance from the complex and messy world of governance.

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WHEN GOD AND POLITICS MIX: ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY AND BRO. EDDIE

When Bishop Brother Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord Church formally filed in COMELEC his Certificate of Candidacy for the 2004 presidential race, he did not only represent the cause of God for the Philippines but he likewise awakened the senses of the ‘Body of Christ’ in the country. Bishop Villanueva calls his mission as a “prophetic gesture to redeem the Philippines from political and social scoundrels”. His decision prompted many believers to rethink their religious and political values. Philippine history dictates that Evangelical Christians [The term ‘evangelical Christians’ and ‘born-again Christians’ are used interchangeably in this paper. They are interdenominational in nature. A Christian is defined as a ‘person who has a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.’] in the country have been alienated from the political process for a long period. Protestant and the so-called ‘Born-Again Christian’ Churches underwent episodes of political indifference which was compounded by their preservation of an apolitical culture. It is anticipated that Brother Eddie’s decision could elicit philosophical and even theological challenges from both Christians and non-Christians.

The Body of Christ in the Philippines is in its defining moment. This could be a make or break situation for all Christians who profess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and confess their primary allegiance to Him. Several issues surface which require immediate and convincing responses. What are the responsibilities of Christians in government? How should the Church respond to the challenges posed by politics? And most importantly, what does the Bible say about Christianity and politics?

Several people (including church leaders and ministers) have depicted politics as the ‘territory of the unbelievers’. This paper debunks that notion. It is necessary for Christians not to distance themselves from the affairs of the government. Christian Churches should maintain a pro-active role in advancing God’s mandate for the Philippines.

TO PARTICIPATE OR NOT TO PARTICIPATE

Governments are not workings of power-hungry politicians. As the Psalmist wrote, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (Psalm 24:1). God initiated all world governments (Colossians 1:16) and has ordained them to control evil activities (Rom. 13:4), preserve social order and regulate the behavior of the people (1 Tim. 2:2). Accordingly, God institutes civil rulers, good or evil, according to his purpose and plans (Romans 13, Daniel 2:12).

The Church was called to accomplish three purposes: 1) fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19) 2) Minister to believers and 3) reach out the society as a fulfillment of the Great Commandment (Matt.22:37-39). The Church’s primary mission is to be a witness to the nations through the proclamation of the Gospel and introduce Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. As Apostle Paul reiterated in 2 Christians are the representatives or ambassadors of Christ on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20). Secondly, the Church serves as the spiritual family of all believers. Christians are considered children of God because of faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12, Eph. 1:5). All believers are being discipled, nurtured for God’s service and bonded with one Spirit within the context of the Church.

Thirdly, Christians are members of the kingdom of God as well as the social order of this world. We are commanded to act as responsible citizens of our country, abide by the civil laws, respect and pray for our leaders, participate in community and governmental activities, exercise our voting rights, pay our taxes and voice out our public concerns especially on moral issues (Mk 12:13-17; Rom. 13:1-7; 1Pe. 2:13-17). Nevertheless, Christians’ adherence to civil laws ends when they are anathema to the laws of God (Acts 5:29).

Should Christians, therefore, be entangled with politics? First, we must recognize the two opposite dangers. The first pitfall is the politicization of the Gospel of many churches, treating the Bible as a political manifesto. Also, there is a danger of over-spiritualizing the Gospel as though it had nothing to claim about the political, social and economic implications of the State. Views on Christian involvement in political exercises can be divided into three schools:
Many liberal churches belong to the Activist School who values the direct involvement of the Church in addressing people’s poverty, especially their physical needs. Christian activists, as they are described, posit that the shortcoming of the governments must be complemented by the intervention of the Church. They believe that the so-called Christian nations like the Philippines should have a Christian government. This principle was intensified during the 1960s with the emergence of the liberation theology espoused by South American evangelical Churches. On other hand, these liberal churches are criticized for abandoning its responsibility to proclaim the real Gospel because of their preoccupation to the "social gospel."

The Separationist School posits that Christians should totally veer away from the affairs of the state. They see the civil government as part and parcel of Satan’s mechanisms to extend his influence. Hence, Christians should never take part of it and instead focus their energy on fulfilling the Great Commission through various evangelism, discipleship and missionary projects. Further, separationists see political solutions as temporal solutions. Involvement in politics should be done on individual basis because it is not the duty of the Church corporately to alter governmental institutions. We must always come back to the God who transforms things for better. As such, the concepts of earthly and heavenly kingdoms must be put in their proper contexts. Spiritual results can only be achieved through spiritual means. Genuine and lasting moral reform can only be realized not by changing laws, but by changing the hearts and minds of people. Since the power of persuasion lies in the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit to convince and convict humans (John 16:Cool, Christians should abandon protest rallies and demonstrations. Nazi propagandist Joseph Gobbles said, "Churchmen dabbling in politics should take note that their only task is to prepare for the world hereafter." The Anabaptist of the sixteenth century was known for this philosophy.

The Strategist school firmly believes that the Church must always be faithful to fulfill the Great Commission. In addition, as a Bride of Christ, she must also exercise strategic involvement in the political process as a springboard for the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth. There is a consensus in the Christian world that this is the most balanced and biblical position. Quoting Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, “Politics is not the Church's first calling. Evangelism, . . . providing discipleship, fellowship, teaching the Word . . . are the heartbeat of the Church. When it addresses political issues, the Church must not do so at the risk of weakening its primary mission."

The Bible introduces many political and/or government figures: Melchizedek (priest and king of Salem, Gen. 14:18), Daniel (governor during the time of King Darius) and Nehemiah (political butler in king’s court). Some Bible scholars interpret "Caesar's household" (Phil. 4:22) as the converted civil servants; "Erastus the chamberlain" (Rom. 16:23) was probably a Corinthian treasurer; Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were members of the Jewish Sanhedrin. There is no verse in the Bible that prohibits God’s children from engaging public affairs. All Christians are part of the city-state and have the same civic duties as others. The main argument is: If we can be soldiers, judges and government workers, why can’t we become national leaders?

It is imperative for Christians to get involved in Government. To abandon the idea is to miss the mandate of God to the Church as a whole. Many Christians are very quick to recognize the dirt and filth of politics, saying that it is impossible to engage in it without staining one’s hands; without compromising the faith; without exercising dishonest back room deals. Further, to enter into politics is to be sidetracked and distracted from the real calling of Christians—the Great Commission. One might conclude that any Christian serving in the government will either be forced to compromise or just give up out of great discouragement.

The State has its inherent weaknesses. Politicians can legislate laws for the common good of the people but they cannot abolish evil and change the inner beings of men. The transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ was given to the Church to accomplish this task. The implications of Bro. Eddie’s candidacy are akin to the propositions of the Vatican II Council of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s. Indeed, it is impractical to separate the ‘secular’ from the ‘sacred’. The involvement of the religious people is crucial in the resolution of social injustices and conflicts.

WHEN A CLERGYMAN ENTERS POLITICS

Matthew 5:16 says that Christians should be the light and salt of the world. How can we magnify the name of the One who have redeemed us from our sins if we will veer away from the affairs of the State? Redeeming the government for Christ is the will of God for his people. The political sphere is a good venue for Christians to proclaim the glory and goodness of God. World history is summoned to show that societies are prone to social decay. Moreover, transformation of societies cannot happen in a moral vacuum. Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke once said, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

When Christians abandon their moral responsibility to influence society with their values, other influences will fill the gap. This has happened in the Philippines. The most fundamental Christians in the Body of Christ have left the political arena, considering it inherently evil and outside the legitimate realm of Christian influence. In one of his interreligious dialogues, Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, an ordained Lutheran minister, states: “Clergymen do not usually become politicians. I believe, however, that theology can be a rich and powerful source of responsible policymaking…Faith in God gives life meaning and direction for millions and millions of people.”

Non-entity in politics such as Bro. Eddie is being attacked in three major fronts: 1) competence issues; 2) religious biases and 3) legal questions. Brother Eddie is being typecast as a novice and inexperienced in politics. He is judged as an ineffectual minister who knows nothing of the ‘realpolitik’ since he is more concerned with heavenly things rather than the things of this world. The media projects that Filipino voters require more evidence about his capacity to be a political leader from being a Church minister. Philippine presidents from Aguinaldo to Arroyo were educated with ‘ivory tower’ ideas. They had crawled up the political ladder with no non-sense performances. Bishop Villanueva neither have the military background to solicit the sympathy of the AFP and the police force nor he carries a showbiz career which can entice the votes of the masses. Bishop Villanueva wants to be known as an educator, as an economist and as an evangelist.

Amidst the collision of curriculum vitaes, we should bear in mind that our votes for 2004 elections must be premised on God’s standards and guidelines. The public often look at the outward appearance of the candidates. They can be easily swayed by image-building ploy of the presidentiables’ campaign managers. BUT GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART (I Samuel 16:7). David defeated Goliath not with strong military experience but with a burning desire to protect the name of the God of Israel (I Samuel 17). Gideon and his people were delivered from the hands of Midianites, not with legion of army but with the wisdom and provisions of the God of Israel (Judges 6). Joshua defeated Amalek and his soldiers when God’s presence consumed their enemies (Exodus 17). David, Joshua and Gideon first found favor in God’s eyes before their victory. As John Maxwell puts it, leadership is all about influence and respect. If Brother Eddie has commanded respect from the Body of Christ and managed the 5 million members of Jesus is Lord Church for the past 25 years, he should be considered as an specialist in administration and management. If Fernando Poe Jr. boasts of his movie career as a pretext for his candidacy, Brother Eddie’s track record likewise provides justification for his presidential bid.

Many Filipinos perceive the president as the Chief Executive Officer of the country and not its Chief High Priest. People are afraid to go back to the period of Middle Age crusades. They misinterpret the current vigorous role of the Evangelical Church leaders as the return of messianic zealots of old and Cromwellian Puritans of 17th-century England. They perceive Church personalities as people who will hastily ‘judge the heathen land’. For them church leaders can be poor political leaders because of their zeal to forward their religious biases that might go against their mission to unify the country. Apprehensions can be felt regarding Bro. Eddie’s identity as a Church leader which can easily translate into a religious war with other Church denominations just like what happened in Nicaragua where the Evangelical Alliance of Nicaragua declared its war against the Catholic politicians during the 2000 elections. In 1992, some religious camps watched over former President Ramos because of his Protestant background. Likewise, Protestants were amazed when John F. Kennedy won as the first ‘Catholic president’ of US. US President George Bush, Jr., a Methodist, has been vocal about his faith and his stance about the continuous struggle between the forces of ‘good and evil’. People who are not adept to understanding the ‘spiritual truths’ behind the Bush doctrine can only blindly question the Washington’s decision to wage war in Iraq.

The greater challenge facing the political party of Brother Eddie is how to translate Christian spiritual principles into programs which can be easily absorbed by the common people. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says that “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”. Unbelievers cannot easily grasp the rationale behind the utopian attitudes of many Christians. They cannot fathom the concept of a "Christian nation" or an "evangelical Philippines”. Paul Freston, one of the leading Christian politics researcher in the Third World, can only observe the following: “There is one tendency [among several evangelical political tendencies] we have termed "triumphalism." This is the Third World futurist equivalent of nostalgia for "Christian Europe" or "Protestant America," but goes beyond. It is predicated on a reading of the bible rare now in traditionally Protestant countries which have been through wars of religion and the Enlightenment…this is usually combined with the ritualistic and mystical approach to social blessing characteristic of newer concepts of macro-level spiritual warfare.” Now is the time that Christians open the eyes of the people about the rationale behind the involvement of Christians in politics.

Many non-Christians are threatened by openly Christians who stand their ground and make noise for their convictions. Bro. Eddie’s activist background easily conflates with his evangelistic spirit. His statement that the ‘world is too poor to buy his convictions’ is a pronouncement that if he will ever be elected into the highest position in the government, it will signal the progressive demise of illegal and immoral projects in the government and in society as a whole. Consequently, people’s cynicism can be discerned with their disapproval of Bishop Villanueva’s Malacanang dream which they call as another attempt to establish a political dynasty. His sons, Jonjon and Joel, are currently serving as mayor of a Bulacan town and as a Congress party-list representative, respectively. Bishop Villanueva has argued again and again that he has no grandiose plan to establish a political family. His candidacy, with the confirmation of the Churches in the Body of Christ, is an unexpected ‘call to duty’ which was never planned.

Bishop Villanueva wields power over his 5 million Church members including the coalition of Churches under the Philippine for Jesus Movement (PJM) which he also spearheads. Some Church leaders and legal experts have been invoking the ambiguous concept of the separation of the Church and state as a counter-attack to Brother Eddie’s ticket. The dichotomy of the Church and the State requires serious analysis. Article 2, Sec. 6 of the Philippine Constitution states that the separation of the Church and the State should be inviolable. The classic Jeffersonian doctrine of separation of Church and the State means freedom from religion and not freedom of religion. Freedom from religion stress that the state should not demonstrate preferential treatment to any religious denomination. It was originally written to exclude the formation of a state church or religion. The Philippine Constitution was not framed with a view toward excluding Christians from civil affairs. The Preamble of our Constitution even invokes and implores the ‘aid of Almighty God’. How can we now claim that we can detach God from the affairs of the state? Jesus in Matt. 22:21 declared that there are things that are reserved for the government (Caesar’s) and the Church (God’s). He also stressed that government’s policies are only valid as long as they do not contradict Biblical principles. The goal to follow God’s laws must rise above obedience to civil laws.

WHY VOTE FOR A CHRISTIAN PRESIDENT?

Psalm 33:12 says that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; the people He has chosen for His inheritance.” The Body of Christ in the Philippines has been praying for a righteous president that will rescue the country from the vicious cycle of political, economic and social turmoil. We have witnessed God’s workings before and after the 1992 elections when Fidel V. Ramos, the first Protestant president of the Philippines, was ordained by God to lead the 75M Filipinos. His openness to the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ boosted his performance as a leader. His legacies are noteworthy and left an indelible mark in the history of the country. During his term, the Philippines achieved the ‘new economic tiger in Asia’ status.

The stories of Israel’s leadership in 1 and 2 Kings of the Bible reverberate a common theme: without God’s blessing and favor on leadership, social and political stability and success are far-fetched. The principles of Biblical Christianity are the best alternative to the existing political ideologies of our time. Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was catapulted into power after tumultuous years of national crises. When he was elected into office, he committed his country to God with a mission to establish a ‘Christian’ nation. Fiji is now beginning to recover from its social, political and economic setbacks. In one of his speeches before Church leaders, he declared: “As I get deeper into politics I can observe some of the least attractive of human instincts at work. Politics is a strange business - ego, naked ambition, power for power's sake….. all these things come into play. I remind myself constantly about the way Jesus Christ would want me to conduct myself…. Jesus Christ, then, is my guiding influence in the mission I have undertaken through the new political organisation I have just launched…”

I believe that while many Christians are commissioned by God to accomplish spiritual works reserved for the Church, relatively few Christians are called by God to political work. Brother Eddie is one of them. Genuine Christian political work necessitates an extremely strong personal foundation, which must be first strengthened before entering the political arena. Integrity and an unblemished name are the core pillars of a Christian presidential candidate. Brother Eddie meets these criteria.

Many political spectators ask, How can Brother Eddie win the elections if he does not have a dependable political machinery? Realize this: a good political machinery does not necessarily guarantee political victory. Former administration presidential candidate Ramon Mitra had the finest political machinery during the 1992 elections but he landed fourth in the presidential race. His defeat even caused his political allies to betray him. Brother Eddie’s candidacy warps a new teaching in an old political paradigm. The old paradigm follows the Goons, Guns and Gold strategy to win the elections. The prevailing political strategy requires the operation of “money politics”. An ordinary councilor spends at least P2M, a congressman, 40M and a senator, P300M to secure a seat in the government.

The Bangon Pilipinas National Renewal Movement’s new paradigm gives credence to clean and righteous governance. The movement relies on the sincere and voluntary support of the so-called ‘silent majority’, the God-fearing people and the nation-loving Filipinos. Underground money does not deserve a niche in Christian political campaigns. Christians should realize that only God can install leaders and establish governments (Daniel 2:21). Mudslinging and money politics cannot thwart God’s agenda for the Philippines.

Brother Eddie is an alternative to "politics as usual." Trapo politics characterized by warlordism, bossism and kinship politics have submerged the whole nation to a quagmire. The Bangon Pilipinas National Renewal Movement offers the option of a clean and righteous leadership devoid of corruption and injustices. The agenda to establish a ‘clean government’ is not a utopian project but a declaration of faith. The core mission of the Body of Christ is to pull up and destroy the root causes of social evils. I believe that the current efforts of the Movement are paving the way for the institution of a Nationwide Coalition for righteous governance akin to US’s Christian Coalition.

Several pitfalls must be recognized in this Christian crusade for Malacanang’s power. To quote Charles Colson, "The everyday business of politics is power." Personal ambition is the most powerful temptation facing servants of God in politics. The personality-focused public prominence can lead a Christian politician’s attention away from pleasing Christ. However, it is possible for Christians to be both faithful and effective as God's servants in politics. The Body of Christ should pray that Christian politicians could stand the pressures that come along with their calling. The Christian politician is, first and foremost, accountable to God who installed him/her and to the members of the Body of Christ which supported his/her political calling. Godly political philosophy among Christians in the government must never be compromised with the tenets of different ideologies or simple pragmatism.

Brother Eddie’s current predicaments can be likened to the struggles of William Wilberforce, one of the finest Christian politicians in English history. Wilberforce was known for its successful campaign against the British slave trade. When Wilberforce was converted to Christianity, his political motivation was changed. Instead of pursuing an alluring parliamentary career, he devoted the rest of his life to promote the good of the Church and the good of the nation. He distanced himself from the machinations of party politics which further gave him more opportunities in the House of Commons to speak freely on any issue. He declined all offers of cabinet positions since membership in the cabinet requires adherence to party policy even to the violation of the conscience of the cabinet member. Bishop Brother Eddie Villanueva is an epitome of man of God who wants to redeem the country’s leadership from political mess. This is the identity of the leader that all Christians must support in the coming elections.

There is a trumpet call for all Christians to stand for truth, righteousness and justice. This is not the fight of Brother Eddie alone but of the whole Body of Christ in the Philippines. If we want to offer a good future for our children, let us unite for the cause of God for our generation. Reverend John Stott, the Founder and Honorary President of the London Institute for Christianity states: “Christians have been blaming the meat of society for going rotten when the preserving salt has been taken out of it, and the house for getting darker when the light has been removed. It is time for Christians to recognise their responsibility to be salt and light in society."
When God’s people intervene in national politics, the country will never be the same again.

CHRISTIANS OF THE PHILIPPINES UNITE! WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR SHAME!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mary and Biblical Christianity

Below is Pope Benedict XVI's first address as pontiff from the balcony of St Peter's Basilica in Rome."Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyard. The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the resurrected Lord, we go on with his help. He is going to help us and Mary will be on our side. Thank you."

Who is really the Mary of the Bible? Everyone knows that she conceived our Lord Jesus Christ as a virgin and became part of the Lord's ministry. She is present at almost every major event in the life of Christ: from womb to tomb (Luke 1:2, 43, 2:7, 22-38; John 2:3, 19:26, Acts 1:4). I can say that Mary was a "born-again Christian" who received the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost.

Sadly, many people have exalted her above Jesus Christ which should not be the case. One of the major doctrinal divergences between evangelicals and Catholics involves Mary. The Roman Catholic Church believes that she is the "mediatrix" of original sin (Gen 3:3-24). Conversely, she is God's agent to redeem mankind. This is further established when Jesus, the God-man, came from the body of Mary. This view was originally put forth by St. Justin who lived from about 110 to 165 A.D.

Mary should be highly-esteemed for her great ministry and service to our Lord Jesus Christ. However, people should never offer her the devotion that only Christ deserves. As the Lord declares, we should only worship God and no one else (Matt. 4). Although Mary is an epitome of a true servant, Christ became the greatest servant of all when He died for us at the Cross. Mary was only human but Christ is the God who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). If we will consider Mary as greater than her son, Jesus, we are contradicting what Christ himself declared in Mark 3:33-36 and John 19:26, which obviously identify Mary as a normal human being, to the extent that Christ never called her as his mother:

"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."


"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."

It should be noted that Mary was only human, an ordinary mother, but a woman of faith (Lk 2:19, 51). Absolutely, she was not GOD, Christ is. She is the mother of Christ in flesh, but not the Mother of God, because God is a spirit and does not have a beginning or an end. Mary died as a normal human being. Mary clearly spells out her role in Luke 1:46-49. "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of his maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed"

Mary needed a Savior because she, a sinful being, cannot saved herself from the curse of sin. Sshe humbled herself to receive God's favor. And she was indeed blessed.

The purpose of this message is not to demean the example of Mary both in evangelical and Catholic traditions. Rather, this is to clearly situate her in an appropriate position based on Biblical truths. We should emulate her example. Nonetheless, we should never venerate a human being because that would be a sin of idolatry.

As the author of Hebrews states (12:2), we must focus on JESUS CHRIST as the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith. The heart of our worship should be Jesus. We should pray to JESUS who is the way to the Father. We should love God by loving Jesus. We should strive to follow the examples of Jesus.




Wednesday, April 13, 2005

An Inspirational Story (Author Unknown)

As a caveat, this story is a hoax. Nonetheless, this allegory represents the real condition of Man and his propensity to be transformed from good to evil. Read on...

THE STORY BEHIND THE LAST SUPPER PAINTING


Leonardo DaVinci, a noted Italian artist, painted the Last Supper, and the time engaged for its completion was seven years. The figures representing the twelve Apostles and Christ himself were painted from living persons. The life-model for the painting of the figure of Jesus was chosen first.

When it was decided that DaVinci would paint this great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality exhibiting innocence and beauty, free from the scars and signs of dissipation caused by sin. Finally, after weeks of laborious search, a young man nineteen years of age was selected as a model for the portrayal of Christ. For six months DaVinci worked on the production of this leading character of his famous painting.

During the next six years, DaVinci continued his labors on this sublime work of art. One by one, fitting persons were chosen to represent each of the eleven Apostles, with space being left for the painting of the figure representing Judas Iscariot as the final task of this masterpiece. This was the Apostle, you remember, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces of silver. For weeks, DaVinci searched for a man with a hard, callous face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, hypocrisy, and crime, a face that would delineate a character who would betray his best friend. After many discouraging experiences in searching for the type of person required to represent Judas, word came to DaVinci that a man whose appearance fully met his requirements had been found in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder.

DaVinci made the trip to Rome at once, and this man was brought out from his imprisonment in the dungeon and led out into the light of the sun. There DaVinci saw before him a dark, swarthy man, his long, shaggy and unkempt hair sprawled over his face, which betrayed a character of viciousness and complete ruin. At last the famous painter had found the person he wanted to represent the character of Judas in his painting.

By special permission from the king, this prisoner was carried to Milan where the picture was being painted. For months he sat before DaVinci at appointed hours each day, as the gifted artist diligently continued his task of transmitting, to his painting, this base character representing the traitor and betrayer of our Savior. As he finished his last stroke, he turned to the guards and said, "I have finished. You may take the prisoner away."

As the guards were leading their prisoner away, he suddenly broke loose from their control and rushed up to DaVinci, crying as he did so, "DaVinci, look at me. Do you not know who I am?" DaVinci, with the trained eyes of a great character student, carefully scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six months and replied, "No, I have never seen you in my life until you were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome." Then, lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner said, "Oh God, have I fallen so low?"

Then turning his face to the painter he cried, "Leonardo DaVinci, look at me again, for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ."

This is is the TRUE story of the painting of The Last Supper. It teaches so strongly the lesson of the effects of right or wrong on the life of an individual. Here was a young man whose character was so pure, unspoiled by the sins of the world, that he represented a countenance of innocence and beauty fit to be used for the painting of a representation of Christ. But within seven years, following sin and a life of crime, he was changed into a perfect picture of the most traitorous character ever known in the history of the world.

Christians and the Hitman

I was shocked by the news that our city's former solon was gunned down at the restaurant where I and Gie exchanged our marriage vows (memorable, isn't it?). Politics in the Philippines has been a tug-of war of glory, gold and guns between the incumbent and the major loser. But the cardinal rule is, one must control the political apparatuses to ensure political mileage. In this case, the congressman was assasinated at gunpoint (right ear) and died 2 hours later. There were speculations that the killing was politically-motivated since Congressman Lanot has been pursuing the disqualification case against the incumbent Eusebio (who is reportedly abroad when the incident happened) who was accused of vote-buying and rent-seeking during the 2004 election campaign period. The Supreme Court was about to release its final decision on the case.

Again, the Spirit reminded me of some Biblical texts which describe the nature of our primary hitman--our adversary, satan. He can also easily gun down unsuspecting children of God in many ways. Apostle Peter likened him to a lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8-9); John identified him as the dragon and the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:4, 7); prophet Zechacariah and our Lord Jesus Christ tagged him as the false shepherd (Zecariah 14 , John 10); prophet Ezekiel branded him as the fallen anointed cherub (Ezekiel 32); the book of Job identifies him as the source of curses and sufferings, among others. One can read Isaiah 14 for the complete revelation about his fall from being an angel of glory to a son of perdition.I can't find a verse in the Bible which states otherwise or satan said to any person, God bless you.

Our adversary's character necessitates the serious re-examination of our Christian walk. His cunning attitude and ability to wear sheep's clothing can deceive many. He can make one comfortable with sinning, can mislead many to justify their wrongdoings and can destroy Christians' relationship with their Savior. These are the reasons why we should not be caught flat-footed when it comes to our spiritual warfare. satan does not rest for even a second because he kn0ws that his day in the Lord's court is fast approaching. Hence, as Christians, we should always be cognizant of the Scout's motto -- We should always be prepared.

Although war is not fun, the Good News is that the Christian War is ultimately won by Jesus Christ at the Cross of Calvary (Romans 8:37, I Corinthians 15:57). We must likewise realize that our weapons are not carnal but spiritual. We are not battling against flesh and blood but against principalities and spiritual strongholds (Eph. 6). These truths remain.






Is the Pope already in heaven? (Grace and Salvation)

After one week of collective sorrow, especially among Roman Catholics, many evangelical Christians ask the question, Is the Pope already in heaven? Answers to this question do not come easily. Why? Because only God knows the heart of Pope John Paul 2. Often, the heart of the question is the question of the heart.

Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. The verse conveys that man's way of salvation is very much different from God's way of redeeming the world. I am worried about the so-called confessing Christians who are ignorant of the real meaning of following Christ. Many people call themselves Christians, but fail to meet the Biblical requirement for God's sonship and daughtership. Majority are nominal rather than practicing ones. For them, doing good works is enough to earn heaven. But Biblically-speaking, it is not the case.

The verse above simply tells that YOU CANNOT EARN HEAVEN THROUGH GOOD WORKS but only through FAITH IN CHRIST who always gives His grace to all. Sounds mind-boggling, but it is the truth. Nonetheless, the passage does not claim that everyone should stop doing good. The main issue is that man, with his sinful nature, has been falling short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). His works are like filthy rags in front of a glorious and holy God (Isaiah 62). This is the reason why everyone must be "born-again" or "born from above" (John 3:3). Only God can transform a habitual sinner into a holy and righteous person. It is only through Christ that a person can do good works that are acceptable to God (Phil 2:13).

Let's go back to the question, Is the Pope already in heaven? The answer can be both Yes and No (yes, it could be no...). Although the more plausible answer is the former, the latter can be possible if the Pope failed to recognize the Lordship of Christ in his life (which, I think, is a remote possibility given his 26-year ministry). If he served as if he was adding and subtracting the good works he had done with the notion that if he dies, God will let him enter heaven because of his human works, the Pope surely missed the amazing truth between grace and salvation. But if he indeed lived for Christ, dying will surely be a gain.

On a positive note, the Pope's death brought many lessons both for Catholics and evangelicals. It evoked serious re-examination of various faiths. His legacy as an initiator of religious dialogue toward peace inspired many evangelists and evangelical ministers like Billy Graham and Benny Hinn to reach out more the lost. Second, the pain of his earthly departure among the Catholics, is a manifestation of the people's hunger for God. Pope John Paul 2 became the epitome of a holy disciple of the Lord who stood up for his conservative convictions and as a one who never grew weary of travelling to feel the spread of Catholic faith around the world.


Monday, April 11, 2005

THE SPANKING DEBATE

I had a nice conversation with my office colleagues this morning. Many are confused about the right attitude toward spanking children. Honestly, I am with the view that spanking does not diminish the human dignity of the child, but rather reinforces and strengthens the moral, ethical and spiritual foundations of young people. It is not an act of violence but of conscious love. It is never meant to punish things out of retributive considerations but as a form of corrective measure. We can cite several reasons for these.

First, the child must know whom he/she should honor and respect within the context of the family. Signs of rebellion and insubordination among children must be quelled immediately lest they fall to the trap of immature independence. Hence, children must learn to recognize the authority of their parents. Second, as the Bible declares, "Train up the children the way they should go, so that when they grow old, they will not depart from it" (Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14). Spanking, as a form of corrective discipline will surely deliver the objectives of this principle. As a fact of the matter, the Bible does more than allow spanking, it teaches that the true love involves spanking. It is a tool to inculcate in the child the virtue of righteousness. Unless the child recognizes his/her wrongdoing, he/she could never appreciate the beauty of his/her parents' love and concern.

Even God, who is Love himself (I John 4:8), never let any wrongdoings by His children uncorrected. Hebrews 12:5-9 states, "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives.If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father does not chasten? But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are bastards and not sons..."

Nonetheless, every parent must understand that discipline is the end, not spanking. Discipline is the whole process; spanking is merely a means. As the child grows older, spanking may be inappropriate and must be surely dropped off, not becauseit is wrong but because there are more appropriate means to achieve the purpose (Imagine a 16-year old being scolded by his/her parent using a bamboo rod). It is recommended that spanking must constitute the following: consistency in applying it (to get rid of the idea that parents are not serious in their actions), explanation regarding the action (for the child to comprehend the grand purpose of the action) and exercise of genuine love (spanking should be done out of true love and concern and not as a punishment).

Why am I saying all of these? Because I am a living testimony of this mode of discipline. I will never regret those periods of temporal pains and discomfort. They taught me valuable lessons. Salamat kay Nanay at kay Lola.

101 BEST ONE-LINERS

1. Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
2. Borrow money from a pessimist -- they don't expect it back.
3. Time is what keeps things from happening all at once.
4. Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.
5. I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.
6. Never answer an anonymous letter.
7. It's lonely at the top; but you do eat better.
8. I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
9. Always go to other people’s funerals, or they won’t go to yours.
10. Few women admit their age; few men act it.
11. If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made with meat?
12. No one is listening until you make a mistake.
13. Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
14. We have enough youth. How about a fountain of "Smart"?
15. He who laughs last thinks slowest.
16. Campers: Nature’s way of feeding mosquitoes.
17. Always remember that you are unique; just like everyone else.
18. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
19. There are three kinds of people: Those who can count and those who can't.
20. Why is "abbreviation" such a long word?
21. Nuke the Whales.
22. I started out with nothing and I still have most of it.
23. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
24. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
25. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
26. As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.
27. Laugh alone and the world thinks you're an idiot.
28. Sometimes I wake up grumpy; other times I let her sleep.
29. The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the ability to reach it.
30. You can't have everything; where would you put it?
31. I took an IQ test and the results were negative.
32. Okay, who stopped the payment on my reality check?

33. We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse.

34. Be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home.
35. DNA: National Dyslexic Association.
36. If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
37. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
38. Eat right. Stay fit. Die anyway.
39. DARE to keep cops off donuts.
40. Nothing is fool proof to a sufficiently talented fool.
41. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
42. Dyslexics of the world, untie!
43. God made mankind. Sin made him evil.
44. I don't find it hard to meet expenses. They're everywhere.
45. I just let my mind wander, and it didn't come back.
46. Don't steal. The government hates competition.
47. Humpty Dumpty was pushed.
48. National Atheist's Day April 1st.
49. All generalizations are false.
50. The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.
51. Work is for people who don't know how to fish.
52. If you don't like the news, go out and make some.
53. For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism.
54. IRS: We've got what it takes to take what you have got.
55. I'm out of bed and dressed. What more do you want?
56. I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not too sure.
57. I can handle pain until it hurts.
58. No matter where you go, you're there.
59. If everything is coming your way, then you're in the wrong lane.
60. It's been Monday all week.
61. Gravity always gets me down.
62. This statement is false.
63. Eschew obfuscation.
64. They told me I was gullible...and I believed them.
65. It's bad luck to be superstitious.
66. According to my best recollection, I don't remember.
67. The word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary.
68. Honk if you like peace and quiet.
69. The Big Bang Theory: God Spoke and BANG! it happened.
70. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
71. Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how it remains so popular?
72. Save the whales. Collect the whole set.
73. A day without sunshine is like, night.
74. The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
75. Corduroy pillows: They're making headlines!
76. Gravity- It's not just a good idea, it's the LAW!
77. Life is too complicated in the morning.
78. We are all part of the ultimate statistic—ten out of ten die.
79. Nobody's perfect. I'm a Nobody.
80. Ask me about my vow of silence.
81. The hardness of butter is directly proportional to the softness of the bread.
82. The last thing on earth you want to do will be the last thing you do.
83. Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else get your way.
84. If ignorance is bliss, then tourists are in a constant state of euphoria.
85. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try skydiving.
86. If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
87. Stop repeat offenders. Don't re-elect them!
88. I intend to live forever. So far so good.
89. Who is "General Failure" and why is he reading my hard disk?
90. What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
91. I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out.
92. Energizer Bunny arrested; charged with battery.
93. I didn’t use to finish sentences, but now I
94. I’ve had amnesia as long as I can remember.
95. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
96. Vacation begins when Dad says, "I know a short cut."
97. Evolution: True science fiction.
98. What's another word for Thesaurus?
99. Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
100. A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.
101. I went to the fights, and a hockey game broke out.


ANO BA TALAGA ANG "CALLING" KO?

Lagi kong naririnig iyan sa mga kabataang kaga-graduate lang sa kolehiyo at mga young professionals na nababagot sa buhay. Nagtatanong si...