Sunday, October 29, 2006

Full-Packed October

My birthday month has brought me surprises of gigantic proportions. Indeed Psalm 37:4, made its way in my life. I have been seeking joy in the Lord’s vineyard, and He gave me the desires of my heart. The month’s extravaganza started with my birthday (October 3). There was nothing unusual about the event but it made me realize how blessed I am for having a faithful God and Lord, a wonderful wife, loving families (immediate and in-laws), a great student ministry, among others. I saw my life not as a career but as a mission. God has entrusted to me a ministry that could save millions of youth struggling with different life issues.

In the second week of the month, the Lord expanded the tents of Generation 3:16 Ministries by touching the hearts of six high school teachers of a very large public high school. They want us to minister to their students, majority of which, have been struggling with poverty, with their families, peers and self-esteem. As a result, for AY 2006-2007, we have a total of 800 students being ministered every week through our E.A.G.L.E.S (Enriching and Guiding the Life Experiences of Students) Program. Days after, my application for college teaching was finally approved. Starting the 2nd semester, AY 2006-2007, I will be teaching International Political Economy in one of the prestigious universities in the country.

I had a wonderful time in Zamboanga City where I attended the Philippine Political Science Association Conference (October 26-27). Aside from eenjoying academic discourses, me and my TWSC colleagues (Joel, Sharon and Zurds) visited some of the must-see spots in the city including the Fort Pilar Museums, the Yakan Village (where they weave nice handicrafts), Vista del Mar beach Resort (overlooking the Sta. Cruz and Basilan Islands) and the famous “barteran” tiangges.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Will Go, Send Me


INTRODUCTION

I learned about the Adopt-a-Campus (AAC) Project in April 2004 when I was praying and consulting with pastors and Christian friends regarding the establishment of the ministry the Lord has given me, the Generation 3:16 Ministries. I emailed Ptr. Jun Singson, AAC’s over-all Coordinator, signifying my interest to be part of the group. A year after, I accepted the challenge to be the AAC Coordinator of Pasig City. I believe the Lord desires His children to serve Him effectively in His vineyard. Getting involved in AAC is a great opportunity to take part in His work. I would like to share with you what the Lord has taught me when it comes to ministry service, as expressed in the amazing experience of prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6, GNB). Take note of the events leading to the prophet’s declaration that he must be commissioned to deliver the message to the Israelites. They reveal how we should respond to God’s invitation to work for Him and with Him in any endeavor.

THE NEED FOR MINISTERS

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…(Isaiah 6:1)

God showed himself to Isaiah the day King Uzziah died. Uzziah became the leader of Judah when he was 16 years old and reigned as king for 52 years. The fifth chapter of the book of 2nd Kings reveals that he did what was pleasing to the Lord. He became powerful with his fame spreading even to Egypt (2 Chronicles 26:8). Nevertheless, his leadership experienced a tragic ending due to his arrogance and disobedience (2 Chronicles 26:16). He failed to destroy the pagan places of worship thus the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense to various idols. He burned incense on the altar of incense of the Temple without a divine mandate. Consequently, he was stricken by God with a dreaded skin disease which stayed with him the rest of his life. He lived in a separate house, relieved of all his official duties, while his son, Jotham, governed the country (2 Kings 15:5). When he died, he was buried in the royal burial ground but was denied to be laid in the royal tombs (2 Chronicles 26:23).

God showed Himself because there was a pressing concern. Israelites did not know that God’s judgment was knocking on their doorstep. A man He had chosen to represent Him before Israel disappointed him and abandoned His cause. Serving as a historian for King Uzziah for several years (2 Chronicles 26:22), Isaiah may have been discouraged because of the demise of a great leader of Judah. Nonetheless, the Lord assured the prophet that the vacuum in the leadership will be short-lived because He shall choose another leader.

Similar to Isaiah’s time, many present leaders (Christians and non-Christians) of our country have disappointed God. Hence, there is a critical need for passionate Christian youth leaders who shall take the lead in proclaiming God’s glorious plan for this nation. Man-made solutions cannot address the basic heartfelt needs of the younger generation. It is only through Jesus that they can experience genuine peace and fulfillment. This can only be made possible through the active involvement of Christian youth leaders who can serve as God’s mouthpiece.

MINISTERS KNOW THE CHARACTER OF GOD

He was sitting on his throne, high and exalted, and his robe filled the whole Temple. Around him flaming creatures were standing, each of which had six wings. Each creature covered its face with two wings, and its body with two, and used the other two for flying. They were alling out to each other: "Holy, holy, holy! The LORD Almighty is holy! His glory fills the world." The sound of their voices made the foundation of the Temple shake, and the Temple itself became filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:1-4)

Isaiah witnessed God’s two major attributes: as the King of the universe (the One who sits on the throne) and as the Most Holy One (the object of angels’ worship). The Bible declares that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it; the world, and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1). Nothing is impossible with Him (Matthew 19:26) because He is the prime controller of human history. This character is complemented by His holiness which “overcomes any darkness” (James 1:17). As the angels declare God’s holiness, the foundations of the temple shook and the room was filled with smoke. Smoke has been identified with the glory of God which appears whenever people worship Him. Worship facilitates the relationship between God and man because it is only through genuine adoration that divine presence manifests (Psalm 22:3). As ministers, our main goal is to help the spiritually lost to become genuine worshippers of the living God.

Seraphims are “burning angels” who minister at God’s throne. They have six wings. The two cover their face; the other two conceal their body and the rest they use for flying. Notice the balance of the use of their wings. On one hand, they use their four wings to cover their face and their body as an act of humility. Further, as the scenario suggests, even angels cannot endure the brightness and majesty of God. On the other hand, they utilize their two wings to express their willingness and ability to serve God. Humility and service, these are the qualities that God requires from His ministers.

Our level of commitment to a ministry often hinges on our knowledge of God’s character. We can only comprehend the true value of our service if we can understand His two major character: the all-powerful One, who can make all things possible and the Most Holy One, who deserves to be praised and worshipped by the peoples of the world.

MINISTERS ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR WEAKNESSES

I said, "There is no hope for me! I am doomed because every word that passes my lips is sinful, and I live among a people whose every word is sinful. And yet, with my own eyes I have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." (Isaiah 6:5)

Isaiah saw his weaknesses when he heard the pure worship of angels and witnessed the majesty of God. We can only see our real spiritual condition if we experience a real encounter with God. God’s glory (shekinah) exposed Isaiah’s filthiness as a man of unclean lips. He realized the impending judgment for his sins. This is the same situation in Luke 18:13 where a publican was in the corner of the Temple beating on his breast crying, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" He did it because he has been exposed to the truth about his sin and had an experience of conviction. Unless we acknowledge our iniquities we can never appreciate the value of God’s forgiveness.

Our weaknesses should alert us to the truth that we can do nothing apart from our Creator (John 15:5). Our attitude should be attitude of our Lord who said, "I can do nothing of Myself" (John 8:28). God uses those who are meek and humble because at the end of any work, the full credit must be ascribed to Him alone. No person should glory in His work (Isaiah 42:8, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

When Isaiah saw the Lord, who did he see? He saw the pre-incarnate Jesus (John 12:41). God has revealed Himself through our Christ as the physical embodiment of His love for mankind (John 1:1-2). Anyone can be transformed by Christ’s love and compassion. We can always find mercy at the feet of the cross. The Bible declares that “no man can see the face of the Lord and live” (Exodus 33:20). God, in His sovereign will, protected Isaiah. This reinforces the truth that, in His presence, He preserves and protects His ministers (Psalm 32:7).

Our effectiveness as ministers is measured by how we acknowledge of our frailties and weaknesses. We must realize that we need’s God’s empowerment to accomplish His will. Ministers depend not on the strength of the flesh, but on the power of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). For it is God who is working in us to make us willing and able to obey him (Philippians 2:13). Consequently, we can have the confidence that God shall preserve us even in the most difficult part of our Christian walk.

MINISTERS ARE SANCTIFIED

Then one of the creatures flew down to me, carrying a burning coal that he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with the burning coal and said, "This has touched your lips, and now your guilt is gone, and your sins are forgiven. (Isaiah 66:6-7)

Isaiah’s “unclean lips” made him unfit for God’s ministry. But God provided the way for the prophet to become a qualified minister. He is the Lord who shows compassion and pity on those He chooses (Exodus 33:19). Remember that in the plan of salvation, it is God who made a way for man to be saved from His sins through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). The burning coals represent God’s cleansing power. The coals came from the altar, representing the place where God’s blessings and mercy emanate. Isaiah confessed his sins thus he was forgiven and cleansed (I John 1:9).

Isaiah’s commissioning was announced after his spiritual cleansing. Ministers need to be sanctified. As Christ’s ambassadors, we must maintain the righteousness that Christ has ascribed unto us. Sin is the major reason why ministries fail. Church programs cannot please a righteous God. They can become “filthy rags” if done with hands full of transgressions (Isaiah 64:6). All who serve the Lord must respect His holiness (Leviticus 10:3). Offering our lives as a “living sacrifice” is the least thing we can accomplish (Romans 12:1-2). As the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Let us rid ourselves of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1).


MINISTERS ARE READY TO SERVE

Then I heard the Lord say, "Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?" I answered, "I will go! Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

In this verse, God inquires who will go for him to the people, and bear his message. The prophet expresses his readiness to do it. What created this kind of heart in Isaiah? First, he had been immersed in the transforming presence of God. He had a heart that realized its sinfulness and had been washed by God. Most importantly, Isaiah absorbed God’s heart to reach the nations. He realized the spiritual needs of his people. God is searching for people who will stand in the gap between Him and the youth of this nation (Ezekiel 22:30). He needs leaders who will represent Him in different campuses. He is searching for “Isaiahs” who are always ready to proclaim the Gospel and stand firm in faith.

How can campuses in the country “call to Christ for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the message be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out? As the scripture says, "How wonderful is the coming of messengers who bring good news!" (Romans 10:14-15).

God’s call is not always dramatic. We may not fall off from a horse and be blinded by a bolt of lightning as experienced by Paul. We may not see God sitting in His throne as Isaiah witnessed. Many times we know God is calling, but we deny it, we ignore it, and we doubt it. Don’t wait for the gigantic display of God’s fireworks, expecting that the Lord will visit your room and hand over to you His invitation. As prophet Elijah had learned, God is not in always in the wind or the thunder, but in a still, small voice inside us (I Kings 19:12). He is calling us for a special assignment. That is, to actively take part in advancing His kingdom in campuses all-over the country through the AAC.

There are more than enough reasons to respond positively to God’s invitation to take an active part in the AAC campaign. "God Is Calling You. You must answer: “I Will Go Send Me!" If you hear His voice, harden not your hearts (Hebrews 4:7). Follow his will.

MINISTERS PROCLAIM GOD’S MESSAGE

So he told me to go and give the people this message: "No matter how much you listen, you will not understand. No matter how much you look, you will not know what is happening." Then he said to me, "Make the minds of these people dull, their ears deaf, and their eyes blind, so that they cannot see or hear or understand. If they did, they might turn to me and be healed." I asked, "How long will it be like this, Lord?" He answered, "Until the cities are ruined and empty---until the houses are uninhabited---until the land itself is a desolate wasteland. I will send the people far away and make the whole land desolate. Even if one person out of ten remains in the land, he too will be destroyed; he will be like the stump of an oak tree that has been cut down." (The stump represents a new beginning for God's people.)
(Isaiah 6:9-13)


Isaiah was sent to preach to a people who would not respond to God’s message. This is God’s strategy of making the guilt of the people certain. We are preaching to a generation which does not know the essence of Christ’s death on the cross. They do not recognize that sins lead to spiritual death. It is, therefore, our mission to show them what sin is, its consequences before declaring God’s way to solve the problem. Often, ministers lay down the solution without first explaining the root of the problem. We often over-emphasize God’s love that we ignore His holiness and righteousness. Our programs must be directed on making this lost generation acceptable to Christ and not the other way around. The Gospel may be a “bitter pill” for unbelievers to swallow, but it is still the medicine which can cure their spiritual disease. The following illustration reinforces this message:

Two men are seated in a plane. The first is given a parachute and told to put is on as it would improve his flight. He’s a little skeptical at first because he can’t see how wearing a parachute in a plane could possibly improve the flight. After a time he decides to experiment and see if the claim is true. As he puts it on he notices the weight of it upon his shoulders and he finds that he has difficulty in sitting upright. However, he consoles himself with the fact that he was told the parachute would improve the flight. So, he decides to give the thing a little time. As he waits he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing at him, because he’s wearing a parachute in a plane. He begins to feel somewhat humiliated. As they begin to point and laugh at him and he can stand it no longer, he slinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart, because, as far as he was concerned, he was told an outright lie.

The second man is given a parachute, but listens to what he’s told. He’s told to put it on because at any moment he’d be jumping 25,000 feet out of the plane. He gratefully puts the parachute on; he doesn’t notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor that he can’t sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without that parachute.

Let’s analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience. The first man’s motive for putting the parachute on was solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience was that he was humiliated by the passengers; he was disillusioned and somewhat embittered against those who gave him the parachute. As far as he’s concerned it’ll be a long time before anyone gets one of those things on his back again. The second man put the parachute on solely to escape the jump to come, and because of his knowledge of what would happen to him without it, he has a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart. (Ptr. Ray Comfort, Hell’s Best Kept Secret)
Isaiah was told how long he must prophecy this way. The Lord answered: "Until the cities are ruined and empty---until the houses are uninhabited---until the land itself is a desolate wasteland. In other words, preach until destruction comes. Our soul-winning efforts should never cease until our Lord tells us to stop. Our message is filled with hope. We must, therefore, not grow weary in spreading the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

Monday, July 24, 2006

Buddhism and Christianity


I recently made a 5-day trip to Bangkok for a research meeting with Chulalongkorn University professors and researchers. To maximize the trip, I and two of my friends went to the old capital of the country, Ayutthaya, to visit historic Buddhist temples. I had no idea what I was going to witness until I saw and touched the ruins of the former capital. Buddhist temples in Ayutthaya showcase the historical roots of the Thais. All of them house Buddha icons and, some, monks’ sculptures, which built the old structures. The capital of Thailand was transferred to Bangkok when Burmese intruders destroyed and desecrated Ayutthaya in 1800s.

Buddhism can be classified as a moral philosophy which its followers strictly adhere to. It teaches that man should not do evil, to cultivate good, and to purify one's mind. Many prominent personalities accepted Buddhism including the singer Tina Turner, Phil Jackson (coach of the Los Angeles Lakers), Richard Gere, and Steven Seagal. The Dalai Lama has become a prominent spiritual figure for many throughout the world. It has also influenced the lives of the Thais in many areas. Its teachings can be easily discerned from the values of the people. Bangkok has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. No doubt it has become a major tourist capital.

The Basics of Buddhism

Buddha was born Siddhartha Gautama, a prince of the Sakya tribe of Nepal, in approximately 566 BC. He left the comforts of his status when he was 29 years old, to seek answers about the nature of suffering in the world. He found the answer after 6 years of arduous yogic training. Siddharta Gautama became Buddha, the Enlightened One” under a bodhi tree on a full moon of May. He wandered the plains of northeastern India for 45 years more to teach the path he discovered, the Dharma. He sought to answer the question, "Why is there pain and suffering?" Buddhism teaches four noble truths: 1) Life is suffering; 2) Suffering is due to attachment to the things of the world; 3) Attachment can be overcome; and 4) There is a path for accomplishing this.


Buddhists’ concept of “duhkha” or suffering explains the imperfect, stressful and brutish world. For them, there is suffering in the world because of the uncontrollable cravings of man (e.g. sexual pleasures, gluttony, pride). This inevitable condition is exacerbated by the interconnected nature of things. Nothing has a separate existence. This is the reason why Buddhists cannot afford to act, think, speak or accomplish things in evil ways because they may affect the positive flow of things. Their concept of “karma” is so important that they are really cautious even the way they think about people. Buddhism teaches that attachment to the world can be overcome through rigorous self-discipline. Buddhist monks’ lifestyle is bound by many “Thou shall not…”. They have to adhere to over 225 regulations which forbid them to do many things. Thai monks are often seen in temples reading the teachings of Buddha. They are not allowed to have their own family (if they already have one, they must renounce their family relationships), not permitted to worldly entertainment, must not drink liquor, and even have a job that could be harmful to others (thus, many of them depend on dole-outs and alms given by the faithful in temples). The regulations are summarized in the Eightfold path which undeniably, privileges human agency:1) Right view is the true understanding of the four noble truths: 2) Right aspiration or true desire to free oneself from attachment, ignorance, and hatefulness; 3) Right speech involves abstaining from lying, gossiping, or hurtful talk; 4) Right action involves abstaining from hurtful behaviors, such as killing, stealing, and careless sex; 5) Right livelihood means making your living in such a way as to avoid dishonesty and hurting others, including animals; 6) Right effort is a matter of exerting oneself in regards to the content of one's mind: Bad qualities should be abandoned and prevented from arising again; Good qualities should be enacted and nurtured; 7) Right mindfulness is the focusing of one's attention on one's body, feelings, thoughts, and consciousness in such a way as to overcome craving, hatred, and ignorance; and 8)Right concentration is meditating in such a way as to progressively realize a true understanding of imperfection, impermanence, and non-separateness.



Buddha and Jesus Compared

Thais do not really consider Buddha as a god but rather as a great teacher. Buddhism does not believe in a personal God or a divine being. This is the reason why it does not have worship, praying to, or praising of a divine being. It does not believe in Christianity’s concept of sin, redemption, forgiveness, heavenly hope, resurrection, among others. If some Buddhist sects believe in a personal God, it is pantheistic in nature (the belief that God is an impersonal force keeping things in the world in order).

Many scholars have compared Buddha with Jesus in many ways. They claim that since Buddha was the Awakened One Jesus became Anointed One. Some even go further by saying that Buddhist teachings inspired the sermons of Jesus Christ. Hence, there are mechanisms that we can harmonize the teachings of both traditions. Some Christians even think that there is little difference between Christianity and Buddhism. I beg to disagree.

It must be noted that Buddha emerged during a time when the people were tired of Hindu sects, castes and teachings. He both promoted new teachings and discarding others. In contrast, Christ came in Israel’s history where the Jewish people were desperate for a Savior. But unlike, Buddha, Jesus only fulfilled what was already written in the Scriptures by confirming God’s prophecies and revelations.

Buddha focused on bringing about the best in him. His passive outlook of humanity is far different from Jesus’ active concern for mankind. Christ became the “friend of sinners” and epitomized a man full of love who has been touching the lives of many. Buddha died in the old age 80 while Christ was resurrected from the dead and continues to transform lives of many people around the globe.

Buddha tried to understand the sufferings of man by detaching himself from the world. On the contrary, Christ addressed the suffering of man, corrupted by sin, by offering Himself as a ransom for man’s sins (Romans 5:8). Buddha relied on his efforts to find answers to his perplexing inquiries. Jesus has made man realize that answers can only come from his Creator. Christ does not need to search for wisdom because He is the wisdom and power of God (2 Corinthians 2).

One major difference between Christianity and Buddhism is the acknowledgement of a divine being. On one hand, Thereavada, one of Buddhism’s sacred texts, says Buddha did not claim to have a special relationship with God. He was not divine. On the other hand, Christ does not only know the mind and nature of God, but He is God himself (John 1:14). He is a God who became man. (Phil. 2:5).

Buddhism directs people to Nirvana, an ultimate state in the afterlife, while Jesus offers eternal life which is a free gift for man. Buddha showed the way to nirvana, but it was up to each follower to find his or her own path. Christ did not come to show the way; He claimed to be the way (John 14:6). Also, Buddhists believe there are many ways to God. He must only follow the Dharma to find the real path. However, the Bible declares that Christ’s death on the cross has provided a way for man to be reconciled to God. Christianity declares, “It is done”, while Buddhism emphasizes, “You have to work for it.”

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What does it take to be a Christian Academic?

In a conference where I presented my paper on the role of academics in the development and outcomes of local social movements' actions, I was confronted with the question, how should a Christian academic respond to secular academic values and principles? This question appeared in my head during the conference's open forum when one of the panelists reacted to the statement of a participant regarding the need for public intellectuals to be more “assertive and bold” in addressing social problems. The man, who happens to be an staunch, principled activist professor, expressed a bad language (by cussing) in dramatizing his point, which the lady panelist quickly reacted to because it hurt her sensibilities. What happened next shall never be erased from the memory of those who witnessed the confrontation. The scenario highlighted the propensity of the so-called “intellectuals” to show their unpleasant side—“low emotional IQ”. Moeover, it made me realize how mainstream academics can be easily misled by their secular knowledge and values.

Being part of the academe is my unavoidable Christian calling. I finished my post-graduate degree because I believe that Christians should be a model of academic excellence. If others could finish multiple MAs and PhDs, why can’t Christians do the same? It is my firm belief that Christians should not only be concerned with the building of their “private stairways to heaven”, but it is also their responsibility to help others see the path to a God-pleasing life. A slogan in a high school where I graduated from reads, “The highest goal of learning is to know God”. The following neatly summarizes my convictions and beliefs on how a Christian must maneuver in the world of academe.

The Scriptures offer truths about the nature and purpose of acquiring knowledge. We must recognize that all wisdom (spiritual and secular) comes from God (James 1:5, Ephesians 1:17). For the Lord gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6). Psalm 111:10 declares that “ the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Any knowledge that is not anchored to a true relationship with Christ is useless. I believe that true, sensible knowledge can only be found in Christ. As Thomas a Kempis said: Without the way, there is no going; Without the truth, there is no knowing; And without the life, there is no living. That life is Jesus Christ (John 14:6)

Academic believers must not only be an exemplar of wisdom but also inspiring values and character. This is what James called as “truly pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17). Unbelievers are more prone to a character that is earthly, sensual, devilish (James 3:15) since they fail to recognize the real meaning of their vocation. If we are indeed wise, we should show it by works of good conduct with meekness of wisdom (James 3:13).

Maintaining an open mind is a sine qua non in any academic environment. No one has the monopoly of knowledge. You have to listen to others’ claims and propositions. It is the bastion of academic freedom. You question everything that exists in the world. But as a Christian, there are “non-negotiables” especially as far as my faith is concerned. I just cannot embrace any “ivory tower” ideas that challenge the core of my faith. Hence, I question my discipline based on my deeply-held Biblical and Christian convictions. I believe that “Christianity” is not a subjective term because it has a standard—the Bible. I cannot veer away from what God is saying through His Word.

The academe is a rendezvous of different faiths and persuasions. In university, one can say that anyone can choose whatever he/she desires without being told or pushed what to embrace. But for me, establishing your values on unstable foundations of academic learning is detrimental to the Christian faith. For one, God despises secular wisdom which desires to rise above His glory. St. Paul wrote, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written, "He takes the wise in their own craftiness." And again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." He can confound the wise (I Corinthians 3:18-19). A Christian must never compromise his/her convictions for the sake of academic objectivity. Objectivity is measured on rationale findings of research but many aspects of the Christian faith can never be measured by man-made academic instruments. Christians live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

To be a Christian academic means mastering a discipline and producing the first class scholarship that will inspire others to seek God and obey His commandments. Jesus commands all to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). This should be the “true north” of all believers who want to make a difference in the academe.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

If This World

Below is the song that made me dance for joy. Amidst the pain of going through life's trials and testings, God will always see us through. LET GO and LET GOD carry the burden. He shall never leave us nor forsake us.

--------

IF THIS WORLD
Jaci Velasquez

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Oh, yeah.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Oh, yeah.

Do you feel you've been disowned,
Left outside in the cold and without a home?
Do you think that no one cares
That you're lost and alone and without a prayer?
Don't give into the lie that there's no one you can turn to.
Don't lose heart, there is hope,
There is someone who will never desert you, oh.

If this world is a lonely place for you,
Fall into the arms of love.
If this world is a lonely place for you,
There's a God who you can trust,
Who'll comfort you and lift you up.

(Intro Music)

Are you looking for a friend
Who will stand by your side to the very end?
Someone who is always true to His word,
Be assured He won't turn from you.
Put your faith in the One who will never let you down.
He has proven His love.
Open up to all He has for you now, oh.

If this world is a lonely place for you,
Fall into the arms of love.
If this world is a lonely place for you,
There's a God who you can trust,
Who'll comfort you and lift you up.

He hears your cry, He sees your tears,
He knows your pain and all your fears.
He waits for you with open arms,
He longs to live inside your heart.
You'll never be alone again.

If this world is a lonely place for you,
Fall into the arms of love.
If this world is a lonely place for you,
There's a God who you can trust,
Who'll comfort you and lift you up.

(Intro Music)

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Da Vinci Code: A Fiction Masquerading as a Historical Fact

I watched the movie on the big screen, not for entertainment reasons but to discern the impact of the movies’ claims on the viewing public (thanks to my brother who gave me complimentary tickets). The visual media is the most effective instrument to entice people to embrace a position. What they see, they often believe. After watching the 2.5 hour movie, I can put forth two observations. First, the movie must not be interpreted and appreciated beyond its fictional character. Second, the movie’s presentation can never ruin the faith of even a nominal Christian.

I would like to scrutinize the film using two lenses: as a simple movie-goer and as a minister. The presentation of the long journey of Robert Langdon has made the movie a real yawner. I was expecting to see a fast-paced story and a good cinematography as Dan Brown presents the mystery in the written form. The long conversations on church controversies among Langdon, Teabing and Sophia, in one way or the other, did a great disservice to moviegoers who expect more adventures. The action scenes are confined to car chases and hide and seek scenarios. To the extreme, it would be better to just get a copy of the book which is more challenging to examine (although I won't endorse that...). However, I am with the view that banning the movie from many cinemas can only enflame the growing curiosity of the people. Let the adults see the film. I am confident that they shall treat the movie as another product of imagination.

As a minister of the Gospel, I can never succumb to the author’s flawed claims and misguided theories. The issues which he put forth in the novel have long been settled by the leaders of the universal Christian church. Topics of counterfeit gospels (i.e. Gospels of Judas and Philip) are never new and have been settled by various Bible scholars both in the Catholic and Protestant circles. Dan Brown succeeded in using these issues to arouse the interests of non-religious people whose minds have been blinded by many socio-political and religious persuasions. He, in fact, as his words in an interview revealed, is a man of many religions. When asked if he is a Christian, he answered:

Yes. Interestingly, if you ask three people what it means to be Christian, you will get three different answers. Some feel being baptized is sufficient. Others feel you must accept the Bible as absolute historical fact. Still others require a belief that all those who do not accept Christ as their personal savior are doomed to hell. Faith is a continuum, and we each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point where we entirely miss the obvious--that is, that we are all trying to decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each following our own paths of enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many religions. The more I learn, the more questions I have. For me, the spiritual quest will be a life-long work in progress. (http://www.danbrown.com/novels/davinci_code/faqs.html)

The movie posits (through Teabing and Langdon) that the nature of Christ should never be big deal. Divine or human, it does not make a difference. On the contrary, relegating Christ to a mere human being is a straightforward blasphemy. Apostle John warned everyone of Gnostic, anti-Christ teachings which explain that that Christ did not become human, hence can never be divine or a God. 2 John 1:7 states that, “ For many deceivers have entered into the world, who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the anti-christ.”

As Christian apologists CS Lewis wrote, Jesus can either be a liar, a lunatic or a real LORD. The truth is, He is Lord and God. The claims of the false gospels can never outweigh the claims of the canonized Gospels of the current Bible. God will always protect His word. He can never let a single novel destroy His name. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his Words shall remain forever (Mark 13:31). The Bible is still the best-selling book of all time. It continues to change lives because it is inspired by the Christ and His Holy Spirit. It does not take a complex code for a person to understand that truth.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Filipino Spirit and the Mighty Everest

Filipinos are known for their resiliency and perseverance. We are a race deeply accustomed to struggles and challenges. As my friendly socialists would explain, we were born not with silver spoon in our mouths but with hammer and scythe in our hands. This character was magnified when three of our kababayans reached the highest peak on earth. After a year of intense training and preparations, Oracion, Emmata and Garduce finally reached one of their highest dreams--to step on the summit of Mount Everest. This achievement reveals important things about the Filipino spirit.

First, with the power of will and faith in God, Filipinos can be at par with other nations. Everyone united in prayer for the safety of the three travelers. Second, we can never veer away from the concept of “camaraderie and cooperation cum humility” as the three mountaineers have expressed and shown in their interviews. No one dared to claim the honor of who’s the first one to reach the mountain's summit. For them, everything was a product of “team effort”. Third, the victory of our "kababayans” will always be considered as the victory of the Filipino people in general. We have tasted the glory of triumph through the achievements of our heroes, dead and living. Everyone rejoiced for the success of our three beloved mountaineers. A great heroes’ welcome was only appropriate.


Amidst the national celebration were sad observations that many people failed to notice. The Mt. Everest expedition did not escape the notoriety of the media in capitalizing on people’s achievements. Garduce was the one who was highly-profiled by the broadcast media, particularly GMA-7 (since the station was one of the major sponsors of the mountaineer). The people expected that Garduce was the one who would lead the Philippine team in climbing the Everest. His acclimatization adventures and interviews were constantly aired by GMA 7 and watched by many. Lo and behold, Leo Oracion and Pastour Emata, who lacked the glamour of publicity, were the first ones to reach the peak. Garduce’s mother was quite disappointed with the scenario since Garduce has been groomed as the one who has the most illustrious career as a mountaineer among the three. He has climbed some of the highest peaks in the world. The most recent of which was his exploits in the mountains of Alaska. Indeed, those who were first can be last and those who were last can be first.

Another mountaineer, Dale Abenojar, had been out of the radar of the public because he started his adventure without the full support and blessings of the Philippine government. He became a “lone ranger” mountaineer who chose to work with an international mountaineering agency than to join the Philippine team in its noble quest. His wife claimed that he was the first Filipino to reach the peak of Everest on May 15. But Abenojar has yet to convince the Filipino people that he was indeed the first Filipino who accomplished that feat. I could smell an issue waiting to be answered by all mountaineers when they come back from Nepal and begin to tell their various stories.

I believe that man’s achievements must always be ascribed to His creator. The Bible declares that in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). The strength of man emanates from the divine strength of God. All the greatest achievements in history were handiworks of God because He is the God of history (Isaiah 41:4).

In one scene of the Oscar award-winning film, Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddel quoted what he believed was the secret of his strength and success in running. He read Isaiah 40:28-310: Have you not known? Have you not heard, that the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not grow weak or weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the weary; and to him with no vigor; He increases strength. Even the young shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Words by prophet Jeremiah remind us that man must never glory in his wisdom and strength but rather always recognize the majesty and power of God: So says the Lord, Do not let the wise glory in his wisdom, nor let the mighty glory in his might; do not let the rich glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, doing kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these I delight, says Jehovah (Jeremiah
9:23-24).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Generation 3:16 Ministries Website

I have made a provisional website for the ministry God entrusted to me. Check this out: www.freewebs.com/generation316

The website contains some of the pictures of events in the last few months, the mission and vision of the ministry, some of the teachings I delivered for high school students, among others.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

EDSAs and the Filipino Nation

I was in Grade 2 when the first EDSA revolt transpired. I saw the huge crowd and the rallying nuns and soldiers on the TV screen. Totally clueless about the situation, I never had any hint what was happening in my country. I only had the chance to meditate on its message in UP when I received my “radical education”. It must be emphasized that EDSA 1 was a political revolution and not a social revolution. It was a change of political leaders. Nonetheless, this change in political leadership failed to permeate the social psyche of the Filipino people.

As the history of Latin American countries would show, it is very easy to topple a government but it is quite difficult to build a new one. The experience of the Nicaraguan revolution led by the Sandinistas in 1970s showcased the inherent weaknesses of the people who revolted to protect the gains of the political revolution. Similarly, while the EDSA Revolution is almost universally acknowledged as a great example of democracy at work, many political scientists and sociologists argue that it has failed to actualize the possible gains from a fresh change in government. Filipinos were applauded by the peoples of the world because of the peaceful revolution which toppled the Marcos administration. The example of EDSA was repeated in Eastern European Countries and many countries of Asia. The principles, however, it once bannered have become an old hat in the face of corruption and political bickering of traditional politicians. The nation, under the Arroyo administration, is currently on the rocks because of public’s lack of confidence to political leaders.

What has changed since EDSA 1? Not much. Twenty years is a long period. But as far as my reading of Philippine history tells me, that part of my nation’s history is much better to be reminisced than to be celebrated. We removed the dictator but we have retained the elite political system. The EDSA uprisings have only made Philippine democracy as the tyranny of the masses a.k.a. mob rule. The country’s volatile political situation has made economic growth unsustainable.

I participated in EDSA 2 because I fully believed that removing former president Estrada from office would resolve the socio-political impasse. I was wrong. There is more than to removing a corrupt leader. The masses must not be blamed for the rise to power of Erap. Estrada betrayed the confidence of his supporters by living an extravagant lifestyle while in office in parallel to numerous illicit affairs he maintained during his presidency. Public officials must serve as role models because they are the ones people look up for inspiration and guidance. Good government rests upon them because public confidence is imperative in the normal functioning of democracy.

As British historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee discovered, nations are often destroyed not by outside forces but by weaknesses within. The failure of a civilization to survive was the result of its inability to respond to moral and religious challenges, rather than to physical or environmental challenges. The Bible declares that "...Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.." (Matthew 12:25).

Saturday, February 18, 2006

God's Benevolence and Natural Disasters

Southern Leyte has been known to be a hotbed of natural disasters since the 1991 Ormoc flashflood tragedy which left more than 3,000 people dead. The early period of 2006 proves to be another disastrous period for the province. For the past two weeks, huge amount of rainfall (four times greater than the average annual rainfall of the province in normal weather patterns) has made mountain areas as danger zones. Series of landslides occurred within a week. The latest blow was the mudslide which caused the demise of at least a thousand residents of Bgy. Guinsaugon. The barrio was erased in the map of the province within five minutes. With the horrors of this event, many claim that natural disasters negate God’s love and benevolence to man. Others even argue that since these things happened, God must not exist. The grand question is: Why does God allow natural disasters to happen? The following thoughts could help resolve the inquiry.

First, disasters must be understood as God’s law of nature at work. The death of many people in Southern Leyte should not be misconstrued as an expression of
the “wrath of God”. Remember that God does not want people to perish but to have a life full of abundance (John 10:10b). Harold Kushner in his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, writes that God has ordained preset natural laws that man could not defy. For instance, there is a law of gravity that no one is exempt from. What comes up will always come down. Natural disasters are non-selective.

As a corollary to the first point, we must also understand that Jesus Christ has the authority over the forces of nature (Colossians 1:16-17). He can influence the weather (Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17, Numbers 16:30-34). As such, he can prevent natural disasters. As such, He could also use the force of nature to remind people of their shortcomings and sins against Him. Nonetheless, not every natural disaster should be perceived as a divine punishment. Third, some disasters may be a by-product of something that itself is good. Norman Geisler, Christian apologist and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina explained that the the physical world operates in ways that could be both beneficial and disastrous. For instance, the purpose of rain is not to flood or drown cities but it could result in disasters if there would heavy downpour. The discovery of fire by man has made things better for him. But the fire he discovered could also destroy forests.

Fourth, when God created the world, it was perfect (Genesis 1:31). But the fallen nature of man has destroyed God’s design for the management of His creations. Hence, the Earth was “cursed” (Genesis 3:17). Apostle Paul wrote that the entire creation was subjected to “vanity” and the “bondage of corruption” as a result of the sinful events that took place since the fall of man at Eden (Romans 8:19-20). We had a once perfect planet but now we live in a flawed and dangerous environment. The proliferation of environmental organizations prove that man has a dire need to protect his life by salvaging the deteriorating ecosystem.

Fifth, natural disasters should remind us that this world was never intended to be our final home (Hebrews 11:13-16). This is our temporal abode (James 4:14). Lastly, and I think the most important of all, we must perceive natural disasters as a wake-up call to everyone. We can escape from them but we can never be assured that they will never haunt us again. The state must ensure that people living in landslide-prone would be safe.Tragedies constantly knock on every household. Hence, we must be assured of the life beyond this earthly life. This assurance can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:35-39 states "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Let the Real Love Begin

I recently conducted a seminar on Love, Courtship and Dating among the students of Rizal High School-Pasig. Many of the students who attended were plain curious about the mechanics of courting and wanted to listen to “new truths” that could guide them to better relationships. Many young people often equate infatuation and romantic feelings with love. One of the main reasons for this scenario is the influence of mass media. Movie love teams have exalted hugs, kisses and mushy conversations to the detriment of young lovers. In effect, they mistake the "real love" for something else. I entitled my first seminar, “True Love moves in Mysterious Ways” (from a song by Julia Fordham). The aim of the seminar is to discuss the four types of human love for the students to recognize the true from the counterfeit. The Lord has put into my heart to discuss the difference between the human- and the God-kind of love (the "real love"). I elucidated the five Greek terms for the word "love".

The first word as used in the Scriptures is “Epithumia” which means “a strong desire of any kind, either positive or negative”. It is “passion” in general. For instance, a person may desire to become a showbiz star. Because of his/her love for this dream, she could beat all odds no matter what happens. The problem, though, is that this desire can be out of control and may trample upon the feelings and interest of others. This kind of love is rooted on emotions. Whenever emotions are high, the will to succeed is also at its peak. But if the emotion subsides, the interest may fade.

The second one is called “Eros” or love based on romance and physical attraction. It often connotes sexual love. Eros is the son of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Young people often have difficulty controlling their “hormones”. Adolescence brings with it the problem of changing emotions and feelings. Many of them claim that they are “in love” mainly because they are so enamored with the physical qualities of a person. Hence, physical attraction has become the barometer for the stability of the relationship. It is a fact that expression of love can make the relationship on fire. When physical beauty fades, problems set in. Moreover, sensual expression of love can be very dangerous outside the boundaries of marriage. Unwanted pregnancies could result in broken dreams.

Love based on affection and kindness is called “Storge”. It is the word for familial love as shown in the love of a mother to her child. Whenever a person receives storge, he/she feels secure and comfortable. Our relationship with our parents and loved-ones builds our confidence and personality. We can never survive without the guidance and care of our loved ones. Nonetheless, storge can evaporate in times of conflicts and bertrayal.

Love based on friendship and fraternal attraction is called “phileo”. Our loyalty to friends, family, organization and community reflect this kind of love. As the saying goes, “birds of the same feather flock together”. Commitment to each other is based on mutual interests, goals and thinking. However, phileo is motivated by practical reasons. One or both of the parties must benefit from the relationship. The favor being provided by one must be reciprocated by another. It needs continuous response for the relationship to be more dynamic and alive.

Epithumia, eros, storge and phileo are the kinds of love people often express to each other. But there is a kind of love that is far superior to these. The word is AGAPE--the pure, God-kind of love. 1Corinthians 13:4-7 summarizes its main characteristics: “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail”. The greatest expression of God’s love to mankind is summarized by the mission verse of Generation 3:16 Ministries: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God’s love is unconditional. It does not have strings attached. It does not require others to be good and acceptable for it to be enjoyed. It does not require reciprocation to be sustained. It is not based on the physical and lustful demands of man because it accepts everything. AGAPE sees everything but it does not mind. Unlike the human-kind of love, it is “others-centered” rather than “me-centered”.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Of Stampede, Power of Media, Human Error and Mendicancy

After the euphoria brought by Manny Pacquiao’s victory, the nation was shocked by a tragedy far worse than any typhoon which visited the country in 2005 in terms of human lives lost. A stampede caused the demise of more than 70 people and injured more than 600. It transpired in lieu of the first anniversary of the popular game show of ABS-CBN, Wowowee.

The disaster was a confluence of three major factors: the media promoting the culture of mendicancy, sheer human error and grave poverty of the people. Left-wing groups have ascribed the ULTRA tragedy to the worsening economic condition of the country. Opposition parties were easy to attribute the event to the shortcomings and weaknesses of the Gloria administration. The rampant graft and corruption, loss of confidence to the president and the increasing price of petroleum products and its domino effect to other commodities have exacerbated the depressing condition of the rural and urban poor. In times of poverty, game shows are a great relief for the ailing masses. But they carry a double-edged sword. Their objectives are indeed noble, that is, to alleviate the emotional and physical poverty of their televiewers. However, their strategy to provide instant money has its own demerits. Foremost, the mechanics of the gameshow make joining the contest more difficult. Unlike with other game show's strategy, Wowowee encouraged long queues outside their studios. This make things harder for aspiring contestants. Although Wowowowee promotes the concept of “bayanihan” or cooperation (e.g. The Filipino Channel (TFC) subscribers can freely give dole-outs and financial aid to studio contestants), it unconsciously stirs the collective pathos of the people and further enflame their need for money. No game show in the history of Philippine television has ever accomplished what Wowowowee has been doing. It reaches out a broader segment of the marginalized sectors by enjoining street sweepers, embalmers, janitors, security guards, firecracker victims, maids, among others to join its contests. The host, Willie Revillame, has been loved by many because of his biased toward indigent contestants.

Lack of coordination between the event organizers and the PNP made the matter worse. Many witnesses blame the security personnel guarding the gates leading to the stadium. The fact-finding committee would release its report on who were indeed responsible for the tragic event. The ABS-CBN management easily passed the buck to local police command for their failure to augment the crowd control force. But as far as the PNP protocols and leadership are concerned, event organizers have the primary responsibility to control the crowd if an occasion is a private affair. They are the ones who should pro-actively coordinate security concerns. It is a fact that the show’s organizers wrote to the city government to secure a permit and request for police assistance, but it was apparent that they fell short of requesting for more crowd-control teams when they witnessed how the mammoth crowd increased days before the anniversary celebration. There was a dearth of First-Aid Teams. Many would have been saved if there were only enough medical volunteers present. Organizers witnessed how the mammoth crowd increased days before the anniversary. The “washing of the hands” press statements of ABS-CBN only showed how desperate its executives are to get rid of any law suits. As the DOJ Secretary suggested, the only way out is to settle things with the families of the victims.


Game shows in the country are enticing because of the message they project—prospects for instant buck. Far worse, people take chances not with their money but with their lives. Many people stayed in their queue even after the stampede. This is because they were so seduced to the promise that the show would give prizes ranging from P20,000 to P50,000 for the first 300 people who can enter the football field outside the stadium. Many of them even slept outside the ULTRA premises for several days to secure their place. These events magnify man’s attitude toward money. The Bible declares that money is not an evil per se. It is the “love of money” that God despises (I Timothy 6:10). The people who went to ULTRA were not all financially-challenged.
Many of them were just lured by promises of event organizers. The writer of Hebrews wrote that "Let your way of life be without the love of money, and be content with such things as you have, for He has said, "Not at all I will leave you, not at all will I forsake you, never!" (Hebrews 13:5).

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Chronicles of Narnia's Biblical Allusions

When Walt Disney announced in 2005 the release of the movie version of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe), I saw the prospects for defeating the occult- and witchcraft- inspired Harry Potter series. The Chronicles, I believe, deserves greater attention and recognition. C.S. Lewis is considered by many as the one of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century. His book, Mere Christianity, intelligently examines the validity and integrity of the Christian faith. Not surprisingly, Lewis's convictions can be found in the pages of the a seven-volume saga of the Chronicles of Narnia. They depict a world populated by dwarves and talking animals, giants and merpeople, centaurs and fauns. Narnia is ruled by a kind but awesomely ferocious and gigantic lion named Aslan. Lewis combined the three passions of his life—classical mythology, medieval knowledge, and Christian-based convictions. Movie-goers can easily appreciate the first two, but the third component can be easily overlooked because they are expressed in allusions and allegories. Belows are some of the scenes in the movie which apparently reflect Biblical truths.

THE USE OF CHILDREN - Many Lewis biographers claim that the Pevensie siblings represent the children who Lewis welcomed in his home. During the Second World War, he took in a number of children who had been evacuated from their homes due to air raids on London. The author's use of children not only aims to attract young readers, but also to magnify their innocence to sin—a character that Christ desires among His children. Matthew 19:13- 14: “When the children were brought to Jesus, He put His hands on them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven”.

FAITH IN CHRIST - In one scene, the professor helps Peter and Susan examine whether Lucy’s testimony about Narnia is valid. Lucy is representative of Christ who needs to convince her siblings (the people) regarding her claims. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity presents a trilemma about Jesus: is He Lord, Liar, or Lunatic? Everyone has to make a choice.

WHITE WITCH AS satan– Obviously, the White Witch represents satan, who is the “Father of lies”, the “accuser” and the “adversary” (see John 8:44, Ezekiel 28:12–19, Job 1:7).

EDMUND AND THE NATURE OF SIN – Many people can sympathize with the character of Edmund who struggles with temptation throughout his time in Narnia. Edmund succumbs to what John states as the three major sins: lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life (I John 2:16). Edmund commits the lust of the flesh through the temptation of gluttony when the White Witch offers him enchanted Turkish Delights. them, Edmund conceives in his heart that he will be a prince or king of Narnia someday as promised by the White Witch. Jesus was similarly tempted by satan in the desert: "The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you bow down and worship me." (Matt 4:8-9). Edmund’s desire for power leads to his resolve that he shall not reveal his knowledge of the Witch to his siblings. The lust of the eyes follows when Edmund sees the glowing castle of the White Witch. He leaves the house of the Beavers secretly.

CHRIST AND ASLAN – Lewis’s use of Aslan, the King Lion of Narnia is a symbol of Christ—the Lion of Judah: "See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed." (Rev 5:5).

CHRIST’s DEATH AND THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS – These truths are revealed when Aslan forgives Edmund after rescuing him from the White Witch. The lion tells the other siblings that “what is done is done” to avoid further strife. Paul states: "If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently...Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal 6:1-2). When the White Witch meets Aslan for retribution, the lion king offers his own life in exchange for Edmund's. The act is symbolic of Christ dying for the sins of humanity: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:8).

RESURRECTION AND “DEEP MAGIC”- Since the Chronicles are intended for a young audience, it would have been easier for Lewis to get across his message by using “fairy tales” and “magic stories” than presenting the hard facts about Biblical resurrection.

THE DIVISION OF TEMPLE CURTAIN AND CRYING WOMEN - The breaking of the Stone Table is similar to the curtain of the temple being torn (Luke 23:45). Moreover, the agony expressed by Lucy and her sister over Aslan’s death is symbolic of women who went to Jesus's omb: "Very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." (Luke 24:1-3).

THE CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL WARFARE - Another significant parallel is this: Aslan's calls his followers to battle against the White Witch. Like Christ, Aslan becomes the commander in chief of the protracted war. Christians constantly engage in a spiritual war (see Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 1 Timothy 6:12; and 2 Timothy 4:7).

THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST – The last scene showing the conversation between Tumnus and Lucy and with Aslan going far away from the castle depicts the ascension of Christ on Mt. Olives and his promised second advent. Tumnus comforts Lucy with the words, “We will see him again.” (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-5), 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

Sunday, January 22, 2006

When A Boxer Unites a Nation

The Filipino nation suddenly paused during the Pacquia-Morales fight last January 22. Between 11AM-1PM, mall stores were half empty, while some cinemas of SM Megamall and Glorietta were filled with boxing fanatics cheering for the well-loved Pacquiao. People were glued to their television sets watching Solar Sports' coverage of the boxing event which was broadcasted locally through the ABS-CBN.

Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao indeed embodies the Filipino spirit. Amidst the political turmoil and social unrest caused by destabilization issues and threats of military uprisings, Pacquiao's triumph was warmly received by the nation. His victory has become the temporary panacea to the hurts and frustrations of the people. Even political squabblings suddenly ceased with administration and opposition political leaders embracing each other in jubilance when they witnessed how Morales surrendered after the 10th round. May we always have boxing champions who can unite the nation and ease socio-political tension.

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...