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.

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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).

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