Ang Lumang Pluma

Date: 4 Days before the board exams

When I was young, the Sunday School song “I’ve got joy like a river” made me wonder why God’s peace is likened to a river. I often told my friends that it’d make more sense if peace was likened to a lake or a pond because those two bodies of water were silent. Rivers flowed.  They’re not quiet like lakes. Rivers are not still like ponds. They were constantly in motion. The water’s running and rivers babble and bubble because its waters flowed. Why is peace like a river?

1. Peace is not silent. ‘Peace and quiet’ is different from ‘Peace is quiet’. A person who is at peace is not necessarily quiet. People tend to snore louder when they are in deep sleep. Shy people talk more when they are at peace with the people around them. I know that sounds…

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It’s not that you can’t – you just don’t.

Joshua 17:14-18 is an interesting passage. In this passage, I realized that there are some blessings that we have to work for. It doesn’t mean that God’s unfair. It just means that God knows what we can accomplish and He trusts us enough. In this passage, The tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) were complaining to Joshua because they are numerous but they were only given one portion (v.14). Ironically, they were complaining about their share even though they weren’t able to utilize it because they failed to completely blot out the Canaanites who were living in their allotted land (Josh.16:10, 17:12). Instead of doing all they can to claim their land, they turned to Joshua to demand for a bigger share because they are numerous. There’s a tint of sarcasm in Joshua’s response in verse 15: “If you are so numerous and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

Their response revealed their lack of faith. They replied that the Canaanites had iron chariots. I can imagine Joshua saying, “You don’t say… (insert meme here)” Joshua knew how strong the Canaanites were. However, he also knew how strong God is and how He can defeat the Canaanites if the people obeyed His command. Joshua responded by reminding them that “…though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out. (v. 18b)”

In Luke 19:11-27, Jesus tells the parable of the ten minas. The plot was simple. The master gave three servants minas. To one he gave ten, to the other he gave five, and the last one got one. The master left them and when he came back, the first two servants were able to double what they received. However, the last one spitefully hid his one mina and did not use it. The master gave the one mina to the servant who had ten and so the third servant lost the little he had. We often end there, but there’s a detail that caught my attention. In verse 25, the people standing by complained because the master was giving one mina to the person who already has ten. The master replied, “…everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.”

We all have portions just like the Ephraimites, the Manassites, and the servants. To some God gave “big portions” – lots of talent, charisma, popularity, potential, possessions, etc. To some He gave “one portion” – one talent, one friend, one skill. We are gauged not by what we have. We are measured by how we use what we have. We may think God is unfair, but God is more than fair – He is JUST. God gives us what we can handle then He rewards us justly by how we handle it. God has allotted portions for all of us. We just have to trust Him and claim our inheritance.

I was talking to Brian and Stanley (two high school boys from church) yesterday. We were hanging out, playing Monopoly Deal, and eating pizza which my twin sis bought (coz it’s payday). I told them to pray that I pass the CPA board exams on October so I can treat them to lunch everyday. I was joking, but they looked at me like I said something wrong. Then Stanley said, “Kung yung mga walang Diyos nagt-top e. Kaw pa ate? (Unbelievers get top rank. Of course, you can do it too.)” I felt frozen. I’m sure Brian said something along that lines too, but my head was already spinning. These kids displayed the kind of faith I needed – the faith that will cause me to strive to do all I can because God can.

Strive to be the best “YOU” you can be. That’s all God wants from you. That’s all He expects from you. That’s all He asks of you.


Courage vs. Arrogance: When can we be confident?

Text: Joshua 1:1-9

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The picture above clearly illustrates the true meaning of courage. In the top pic, the small dog was very brave even though he was facing a bigger, more menacing dog, but the moment he realized that his master wasn’t holding his leash anymore, he lost his confidence. He went back to his master and regained confidence when his master held his leash again.

The passage above has always been a source of encouragement because of the wonderful promises that God gave to Joshua. To sum it up, God assured Joshua of these things: Property (vv.2-4), Protection (v.5), Prosperity (v. 8). However, the most overlooked, yet most important promise is His Presence (v.5,9).

When God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous (v. 6), He wasn’t asking Joshua to do a suicide mission. He was telling Joshua to be confident because He’s with him (v. 5). We often misinterpret courage and think that it’s all about doing the impossible even when victory is uncertain. That is wrong. Courage is an automatic reaction when we know that we are fully obeying God’s will. Much like the small dog, the moment we’re out of God’s leash, we’ll be overcome with fear, but when we’re doing what God is telling us to do, we can be courageous no matter what.

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

In Joshua 1:9, we learn that strength, courage, and fearlessness is caused by God’s presence. When God is with us, there is no room for discouragement and fear. That is because God is powerful and God is on our side.

Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

There are always two sides – two choices. As I have discussed in my previous post, God wants us to obey His every command and to fulfil His intended purpose for us. When we’re battling against sin and persecution, we’re assured that we have His whole armoury and store houses as resources. Courage is not measured by how hard your task at hand is. Courage is a mere by-product of obeying God. When we’re outside His will, we have no right to be courageous. When we’re doing stuff that He did not command us to do, we should start worrying because God’s presence is not with us. A false sense of confidence is nothing but plain arrogance when we’re confident that we’ll prosper and not fall even when we’re doing the wrong thing. Be confident if and only if God is with you.

If you’re sure that you’re following God’s direct orders and that He is with you, there is no room for fear and discouragement. However, if you’re not following His will to the dot, it’s time to stop, turn, and go back to Him. Move only when you’re sure that He’s holding your leash. That is what courage is all about.


Attention vs. Intention: What does God want from us?

 

Does God want to be the center of attention?

It is true that God desires to be worshipped. However, more than just the attention, God wants our intention. When you’re the center of attention, that means that all eyes are on you. God wants to be the center of our intention because he wants our hearts to be set on Him. There’s a big difference between the two. I don’t think all God wants is our attention because He gets full attention in heaven right now. The angels are already worshipping Him 24/7, and in the future, that’s what we’ll be doing.

We were created to worship God. How do we do that?

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

One thing is very clear in this verse. Worship is not just giving God your Sundays by giving your full attention to God for two hours each week in church. Worship is so much more than that. It is about giving God your full intention. In everything you do, you must intentionally glorify God.

Let’s face the facts. We can’t possibly give God our full attention all the time. Doing so will mean that we’ll neglect everything we have to do – our studies, work, family, and other chores. A life of worship is more than just listening to Christian music, reading Christian books, and surrounding yourself with Christian friends. It is about doing all things for God – with the sole intention of glorifying Him.

If you think God is a spoiled brat that demands our attention no matter what, we can’t be more wrong. God knows how we operate. He made us with unique intended purposes. We should intentionally do what we were intended to do.

God knows that we have the tendency to give Him our full attention when we’re in church and stop the moment we step out of the building. Needless to say, God fades into the background and we lose our focus. Truth is, the moment we shift our focus away from God, sin starts to creep in. However, if we intentionally live for God, it’s a done deal – all or nothing. All that we do must be for God, of God, and from God. With the sole purpose of pleasing Him, we gain a higher perspective and the right standard to live by. It causes us to seek God’s will and listen intently to His voice. A Christian should do what God wants him/her to do – nothing more, nothing less. That’s what we ought to do.

Do you enjoy giving God your full attention during worship, but still struggle with sin? Do you find it hard to see His will and decide to do the right thing? When you grab your phone to text your friend, is it because God wants you to do so? Do you spend time with a person because you want to or because God told you to?

Everything you do should be intentional. Without intention and God’s direction, it’s just a waste or time, resource, and emotion. A Christian who does things for no reason at all is wasting his/her life. In everything, ask God to show you His will. In everything, ask God to reveal His will for you. If there are things in your life that shouldn’t be there, you have to give it up right now. There is no reason to continue doing things that you need not and should not do. Before doing anything, ask yourself why you’re doing it. That’s the true test of worship.

I pray that we all decide to make God the center of our intention today.


Is God Selfish?

June 3, 2011(right after the Hillsong United concert)

I’m nursing a sore throat and crushed flat feet plus a sore back due to a disaligned spine. My hands hurt from clapping too much and my arms are heavy. Why? Cause I came from a Hillsong United concert. Araneta Coliseum was filled to the brim with thousands of people who were glorifying God by singing (or trying to) and dancing (or trying to). Soli Deo Gloria.
I remember the first time I watched a worship concert in Manila’s biggest concert venue. The popcorn and hotdog sandwich vendors were discussing midway through the concert. I heard them discussing that they can’t possibly sell food to preoccupied young people who’d rather scream their lungs out than fill their empty tummies. More so, they can’t believe why everybody’s standing and ignoring the seats. They marvel at how everyone sang with the band and knew all the songs. They cannot understand that we paid good money to glorify God as a congregation of believers.
There is no sweeter joy than to be given a chance to glorify God. Many people spend their life looking for purpose in life. They turn to self-help books, lofty dreams, ideal partners, and pleasure just to discover what they were meant to do and who they were meant to be. Truth is, our sole purpose is to glorify God.
During a discussion session in our recent youth camp, one young man asked me and my twin sister (we were facilitating) why God bad things to happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. I remember replying that God allows some things to happen because the chief end is for God to be glorified. That young man smirked and remarked bluntly, “Isn’t it weird that God wants to glorify Himself?” I asked him if he thinks it’s kind of selfish for God to glorify Himself with us being objects of His glorification and he nodded.
Is God selfish? Is God too demanding? Does God need our adoration? Is God a powerful spoiled brat who just wants to take all that we can give just because He can strike us dead if we refuse? Is God a glory-hungry tyrant?
NO.
God isn’t selfish. Think about it this way. God deserves glory.
“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.” (1 Chronicles 16:29)

Can we fault anyone who’s asking for anything he rightfully deserves? When a man walks up to you and asks for a million pesos, we’ll probably think that he’s a robber or some crazy selfish guy. However, if you are a bank teller and that same man asks for ten million pesos from his billion-peso account, it makes perfect sense. It’s not right to withhold his right. In the same way, when God asks us to glorify Him, we ought to give Him what is rightfully His. He is in no way selfish. We serve because He deserves it.
We tend to forget that God opened His account when He created the world and everything in it. Throughout history which is His story, He kept on adding to that account. The biggest deposit happened more than 2,000 years ago, when Jesus paid our debts with His blood.
When I took up Business Law, our professor told us that bank deposits are really loans. The bank owes us what we deposit. Banks do not have the option to withhold our money from us. In the same way, we have to give God what is God’s.
Giving glory to God isn’t a sacrifice. It’s simply giving God what is God’s.
Last night, the young people of Manila, Philippines led by a band from Australia did just that.
Soli Deo Gloria.

 

(this is a repost from my tumblr blog)


Luggage vs. Baggage: What are you carrying?

What are you carrying around? Is the burden too much to bear? This video has been going around the social networking sites (click here). I recommend that you watch it.

Baggage. Merriam-Webster (www.m-w.com) defines baggage as: “intangible things (as feelings, circumstances, or beliefs) that get in the way”. We have thoughts, worries, memories, and ideas that hamper our growth and slow down our progress. That’s what baggage is. The Skit Guys are right. We take on a lot of unnecessary weight and suffer the consequences.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

This verse is often used to assure people who are going through tough times about God’s love for them. I love this verse, but I think Jesus is not really talking about letting go of everything and dumping all our cares on God. Let’s continue reading up to verses 29-30.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:29-30)

He isn’t telling us about being perfectly free of everything. God wants us to cast our cares upon Him, but He does not guarantee a carefree, much less careless life. He is asking us to choose to carry His yoke instead of lugging around our own heavy weights.

Luggage. Luggage is synonymous to baggage. However, luggage is derived from the word “lug” which means: to carry laboriously with effort or to pull with effort by jerks (Jerks as in movement with interval not as in bad people, that’s another topic entirely).

Honestly, I think absolute freedom is a bad thing. My favorite teacher always tells us that freedom has limits. She says, “My freedom ends where your nose begins.” Trust me in this. A carefree man will lead a careless life.

When we are burdened by our cares and the load is too heavy to carry, the first impulse is to drop everything to the floor and refuse to take on any other load.

Baggage vs. Luggage. Can you imagine someone who goes on a hiking trip bringing ten sports bags filled with clothes? That’s someone with luggage. He’ll definitely lug those bags the whole time, huffing and puffing all the way. That’s just plain stupid. You’ll probably tell him that he should leave everything behind, right? Now imagine going on a month-long journey to cross a desert without any supplies. Isn’t that also stupid? I think that’s worse. Carrying too much will slow you down and tire you out, but carrying nothing at all may cost you your life. A life without cares is better than one that is full of them, but nothing can be worse than a life without Jesus. If you ask me, I believe that baggage is necessary as long as it’s HIS baggage and not our luggage. A lot of stuff you do not need is just a lot of junk, but having absolutely nothing will just make things worse and suck. *rap mode*

As we journey through life, I pray that we stop focusing on getting rid of our cares, problems, and worries. Instead, let’s start working to replace our cares with His commands, our problems with His promises, and our worries with His Word. Then and only then can we say that we find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29). As for mistakes, don’t erase them from your memory lest you fail to learn your lesson.

Check-in your luggage. Put it in the Christ cargo section. Hand carry your valuable baggage. Happy flying. 🙂

A/N: Thanks for reading. Sorry this entry’s not polished. I have to admit that dealing with numbers for most of my college life dulled my control of the English language. 🙂 God bless you.


What’s your Kryptonite?

What is your weakness? If there is one thing you can change about yourself, what would it be and why?

These questions are often heard in job interviews and beauty pageants. No one is perfect. This phrase is a fact. We each have our own weakness to overcome, a temptation to wrestle with, a vulnerable spot that we try to protect. Napoleon is to Waterloo as Achilles is to heel as Superman is to Kryptonite.

We cannot change the fact that we can never be perfect. What grieves me is that we might be raising up a generation that glorifies weaknesses instead of working on them. For the past century, the drive to strengthen the strengths is evident. This philosophy came about because of the principle of specialization. I have nothing against this. It’s true in business. It is futile to invest time, money, and effort for me to learn to sing because I’m not cut out for that. I should instead focus on harnessing my potential. I have nothing against specialization in terms of output. Tyra Banks always tells models to embrace what makes them odd and different because these things make them unique and special. This is true. God did not create us assembly-line style. He created unique individuals and we must embrace our individuality. I have nothing against being unique. However, we should draw the line somewhere. If and when we use our imperfections as excuses to avoid correction and improvement, we rob ourselves of growth.

Is someone struggling with kleptomania entitled to a right to steal? If I struggle with pride, am I to embrace this and be proud that I do not struggle with timidity? No. Sin is sin. We should overcome it.

Is it impossible to stay pure?

Matthew 26:41 – Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

The Bible confirms that we are weak, but note that the first part of the verse is a command to watch and pray. This verse is not a statement of fact. This verse is not an excuse. This verse is warning us to do our best because we are weak. It is not saying that it’s impossible to triumph over temptation. It’s merely saying that there is a tendency to fall into temptation. It is improbable but not impossible.

How do we stay pure?

Psalm 119:9,10 – How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

The psalmist asked God for help in obeying His commands. The only way to avoid sin is to be so close to God that sinning is no longer an option. Jesus exemplified this. His relationship with the Father was so intense. They were so connected that Jesus knew exactly what to do. A man filled with the Holy Spirit will not succumb to sin to be satisfied because he already is satisfied. Be saturated with God’s word. Leave no room for sin.

Why is it so hard to stay pure?

Someone asked me before as to why God created us with imperfections. I remember responding that a perfect God cannot create an imperfect being. However, He designed us for a purpose and our weaknesses are not dead ends but mere tendencies that we should master in order to triumph.

My twin sister and I purchased the same type of laptop, same brand, same unit type, same specs. After three months of use, it became evident that my laptop’s body was weak. The hinge was loose. I felt disappointed because hers was okay and I felt like I got a defective unit. After a few more weeks, her battery life decreased significantly while my laptop’s battery life was good as new. The same is true for us. Honestly, I find it weird when people struggle about love matters. I do not fantasize about my dream guy or crush on guys around me. I do not waste time thinking about crushes or guys who like me. I’m not tempted to enter a compromising relationship or flirt with a guy I like. People tell me I’m strong because a lot of girls my age wrestle with this. However, I am weak in another aspect.  Paul struggled as much as we do. That’s why he said, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:27) You know what your tendencies are. You can choose to veer away from sin. You can beat your body and train it to handle temptation. If you are able to develop a CIA-proof system to keep your secret sins hidden, I’m sure you can develop a strict training regimen to sin-proof your life.

Mark Lowry once joked about Christians who care about others’ sins. He said, “I shouldn’t care about your sin. I’m too busy dealing with my own sin.” That statement nailed it. The body of Christ’s war against sin is decided by each individual’s battle with his/her own sin.

Aim for purity. Work towards it. You’ve got God on your side. The instant you stop struggling to stay pure is the instant you let go of God’s hand. In this war, the lines are drawn. You’re either for God or against Him.

Superman is weakened by kryptonite. Kryptonite won’t work when it’s covered by lead. Let God lead and your kryptonite won’t cripple you.

Purity vs. Perfection: Purity is improbable. Perfection is impossible. Purity is required as a response to salvation. Perfection is acquired through Jesus’ blood.