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.


A Pilgrim's Progress

We are all travellers. But our travel does not always lead us to a better place. Unless we have an idea of where we are going, we can never experience the joy of walking, running and traversing the land. We can either pursue the adventure on our own strength and will, or we can let someone to lead us and show us the right path. I would rather have a GUIDE. I gave Him my life 10 years ago and He still leads me in the paths of righteousness and genuine peace.

I know Whom I have believed and I know that He will keep His promise. All things will fall on their proper place as long as I have Him and He holds me with His righteous Hand. This is the reason why I created this blog.

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...