Archive for the ‘FAITH’ Category

My 10 months in Thailand proved to be more than just learning and sharing in terms of  my work and personal growth. As I’m going through the last few months of my posting, I realized that it was also a spiritual journey that made me see a new reality and live that reality.

At the start of my posting, I was so pumped up from our FK prep course. My battle cry is “CHANGE” be an agent of it. But as my posting here progressed, that drive slowly went downhill since the change that I hoped I can contribute were not going on a pace that I envisioned it to be. I was disappointed but I continued on and went even as far as planning on the things that I will do when I go back to the Philippines. I scribbled on my notebook about my plans. I was hyped again from envisioning ways on how I can affect change in the society.

Little did I know that I was going into dangerous grounds. I was blinded by the things that I already did and what I can still do. I prided myself with my accomplishments. I celebrate when people tell me how pleased they are with what I have accomplished. I was ecstatic when people approved my ideas.

Given with much time to reflect, I eventually saw the lies. It was a humbling experience and a liberating one to strip myself off from those lies and accepted the truth that my life is NOT about me and what I have done. My life is about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for me through the way of the cross. This is my new reality. It even redefined my view of success – success that is not based on finances, positions, or other measures that Forbes Magazine would use to measure the wealthiest people in the world. A journey with Christ is wealth in itself.

Therefore, I do not seek approval from others because God already approved me through Christ. I do not pride myself with what I can do but rather on what Jesus Christ can do through me. I am not here to please others but (in the words of CS Lewis) please the One whom I am created to please – and what would please Him is following His commands of loving God above all and love others as I love myself. Loving others in this new reality has taken me into a new level of trying to see God’s image in them despite our differences – which really stretched my understanding and patience (but I still pray for more understanding and patience!). Truly, I could not have done it by myself but by the grace of Jesus, I now can!

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. ~ Colossians 3:17 NLT

I represent! 🙂

I now leave you with this song… definitely, there is a new way to be human!

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CS Lewis’ BBC Radio Address

Posted: May 6, 2011 in FAITH

Broadcast 21 March 1944, BBC Home Service Radio

Part 1

Part 2

Transcription:

In these talks, I’ve had to say a good deal about prayer. And before going on to my main subject tonight, I’d like to deal with a difficulty some people find about the whole idea of prayer. Somebody put it to me by saying: “I can believe in God alright, but what I can’t swallow is this idea of Him listening to several hundred million human beings who are all addressing Him at the same moment.”

And I find quite a lot of people feel that difficulty.

Well, the first thing to notice is that the whole sting of it comes in the words “at the same moment.” Most of us can imagine a God attending to any number of claimants if only they come one by one and He has an endless time to do it in. So what’s really at the back of the difficulty is this idea of God having to fit too many things into one moment of time.

Well that, of course, is what happens to us. Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along, and there’s room for precious little in each. That’s what Time is like. And, of course, you and I tend to take it for granted that this Time series — this arrangement of past, present and future — isn’t simply the way life comes to us but is the way all things really exist. We tend to assume that the whole universe and God Himself are always moving on from a past to a future just as we are. But many learned men don’t agree with that. I think it was the Theologians who first started the idea that some things are not in Time at all. Later, the Philosophers took it over. And now some of the scientists are doing the same.

Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life doesn’t consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He hasn’t got to listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call “ten-thirty.” Ten-thirty, and every other moment from the beginning to the end of the world, is always the Present for Him. If you like to put it that way, He has infinity in which to listen to the split second of prayer put up by a pilot as his plane crashes in flames.

That’s difficult, I know. Can I try to give something, not the same, but a bit like it. Suppose I’m writing a novel. I write “Mary laid down her book; next moment came a knock at the door.” For Mary, who’s got to live in the imaginary time of the story, there’s no interval between putting down the book and hearing the knock. But I, her creator, between writing the first part of that sentence and the second, may have gone out for an hour’s walk and spent the whole hour thinking about Mary. I know that’s not a perfect example, but it may just give a glimpse of what I mean. The point I want to drive home is that God has infinite attention, infinite leisure to spare for each one of us. He doesn’t have to take us in the line. You’re as much alone with Him as if you were the only thing He’d ever created.

When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you’d been the only man in the world.

Now, I’ll get back to my main subject.

I was pointing out last time that the Christian life is simply a process of having your natural self changed into a Christ self, and that this process goes on very far inside. One’s most private wishes, one’s point of view, are the things that have to be changed. That’s why unbelievers complain that Christianity’s a very selfish religion. “Isn’t it very selfish, even morbid,” they say, “to be always bothering about the inside of your own soul instead of thinking of humanity?”

Now, what would an NCO say to a soldier who had a dirty rifle and when told to clean it replied, “But sergeant, isn’t it very selfish, even morbid, to be always bothering about the inside of your own rifle instead of thinking of the United Nations?” Well, we needn’t bother about what the NCO would actually say. You see the point. The man is not going to be of much use to the United Nations if his rifle isn’t fit to shoot quickly. In the same way, people who are still acting from their old natural selves won’t do much real permanent good to other people.

Let me explain that.

History isn’t just the story of bad people doing bad things. It’s quite as much a story of people trying to do good things. But somehow, something goes wrong. Take the common expression: “cold as charity.” How’d we come to say that? From experience. We’ve learned how unsympathetic and patronizing and conceited charitable people often are. And yet hundreds and thousands of them started out really anxious to do good, and when they’d done it, somehow it just wasn’t as good as it ought to have been.

The old story: What you are comes out in what you do. A crabapple tree can’t produce eating apples. As long as the old self is there its taint will be over all we do. We try to be religious and become Pharisees. We try to be kind and become patronizing. Social service ends in red tape of officialdom. Unselfishness becomes a form of showing off.

I don’t mean of course that we’re to stop trying to be good. We’ve got to do the best we can. If the soul’s just fool enough to go into battle with a dirty rifle he mustn’t run away. But I do mean that the real cure lies far deeper. Out of our self and into Christ we must go.

The change won’t for most of us happen suddenly. And I must admit that for most Christians it will only be beginning to the very end of our present lives. But there are some in whom it goes further, even before death, far enough for you to see it. There very faces and voices are different. When you meet them, you know you’re up against something which, so to speak, begins where you leave off; something stronger, quieter, happier, more alive than ordinary humanity.

Now that’s just where Christianity, as I think, has the real answer to a question a lot of modern people are asking. Everyone’s heard of evolution, how man evolved from lower types of life. And people often ask, “What’s the next step?” “When is the thing beyond man going to appear?” Some imaginative writers even try to picture what the next step will be like, but they usually end in nonsense about men with six arms or wings or something of that type.

But the Christians think those people are on the wrong tack. The next step has already appeared. The next step is from being mere creatures to being sons of God. The new kind of man appeared in Christ, and other new men, little “christs,” already to be found sorted here and there about the earth.

We Christians don’t call it “evolution” because we believe it isn’t something coming up out of blind Nature but something coming down from the world of light and power and knowledge beyond all Nature. But if you like to call it “evolution,” do. The next step is here. You can become one of the new men in Christ if you like. Or, if you prefer, you can refuse the step and sink back.

Now if we take the step, it involves losing what we now call our “selves.” That doesn’t mean that all people who accept Christ are going to be exactly like one another. I know it sounds as if it did. If there’s one Christ, and He’s to be in us all, actually replacing our personalities with His own, what difference will there be between us?

Now here I’ve got a rather difficult thing to say. On the one hand, it isn’t true that we shall lose our personal differences by letting Christ take us over. On the other hand, I don’t think Christ can take us over as long as we’re bothering about what will happen to our personality. Let’s take the first point first.

If a person didn’t know about salt, wouldn’t he think that anything with such a strong taste would kill the taste of all the other things in any dish you put it into? We know, as a matter of fact, it brings out the real taste.

Well, it’s rather like that with Christ. When you’ve completely given up your-self to His personality you will then, for the first time in your life, be developing into a real person. He made the whole world. He invented it as an author invents characters in a book, all different men that you and I were intended to be.

Our real selves are, so to speak, all waiting for us in Him. What I call my “self” now is hardly a person at all. It’s mainly a meeting place for various natural forces, desires, and fears, etcetera, some of which come from my ancestors, and some from my education, some perhaps from devils. The self you were really intended to be is something that lives not from nature but from God.

At the beginning of these talks, I said there were personalities in God. Well, I go further now: There are no real personalities anywhere else — I mean no full, complete personalities. It’s only when you allow yourself to be drawn into His life that you turn into a true person.

But on the other hand, it’s just no good at all going to Christ for the sake of divinity or for a personality. As long as that’s what you’re bothering about you haven’t begun, because the very first step towards getting a real self is to forget about the self. It will come only if you’re looking for something else. That holds, you know, even for earthly matters: Even in literature or art, no man who cares about originality will ever be original. It’s the man who’s only thinking about doing a good job or telling the truth who becomes really original — and doesn’t notice it. Even in social life you’ll never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking what sort of impression you make.

That principle runs all through life from the top to the bottom: Give up yourself and you’ll find your real self. Lose your life and you’ll save it. Submit to death, submit with every fiber of your Being and you’ll find eternal life. Look for Christ and you’ll get Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in. Look for yourself and you’ll get only hatred, loneliness, despair, and ruin. Source: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/cslewisbeyondpersonality.htm

The Judas in Me

Posted: April 22, 2011 in FAITH
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Judas believed and followed Jesus, he saw Jesus performing miracles from feeding thousands, to driving out demons, to healing the sick and disabled and even raising the dead. He was there when Jesus preached parables that speaks of God’s Kingdom, of how man should live their lives. Judas shared treasured moments with the Son of God, physically! But after everything that he had seen and experienced, he still betrayed him in exchange for 30 silver coins.

Tonight, I wailed upon my realization that just like Judas, I, too, betrayed Jesus despite experiencing His presence in my life.

It has been 8 years since I accepted and begun my personal journey with Jesus. But those 8 years were also marred with my Judas episodes, episodes of my betrayal. I betrayed him in exchange of my own versions of the 30 silver coins. My 30 silver coins of disobedience – of clinging on my pride. My 30 silver coins of disobeying His words. My 30 silver coins of giving in to my sinful desires. My 30 silver coins of relying on my lofty plans for my life. My 30 silver coins of basking in my achievements. My 30 silver coins of rejecting and hurting people whom His Father also created thus He called as brothers and sisters. My 30 silver coins of not fully trusting him with my life’s decisions. Ah! My 30 silver coins that in those moments I treasured.

Yes, I am flawed and imperfect. My acceptance of Him 8 years ago meant the death of the old me. I did gain ounces of knowledge and hopefully wisdom along the way and I am closer to Him now than I was before BUT the fact remains that I also gained 30 silver coins.
Despite my betrayals, Jesus never failed to let me know how much he loved me. He never failed to make me realize that His love is not dependent on me, whether I love and follow him or not… He first loved me (period). He loves me even as I hold on and enjoy my 30 silver coins.

The only humane analogy that I (we) can grasp is that of a lover being betrayed by the one he loves in exchange for someone else – being rejected in exchange for another. The pain is unexplainable even by the most excruciating physical pain that we can experience. Human’s reaction would be an instant flow of HATRED – we can almost hear our hearts literally break into pieces as our thoughts begin to think of vile words towards the person who betrayed and caused us that much pain. Some even go to the extent of revenge. A that moment, we feel life leaving us, at the onset of the pain our sights are darkened and so are our hearts.

The difference with Jesus is, he never felt hatred towards us. After he was crucified, the first thing he said (just imagine the pain after being pierced with nails and also the amount of strength needed to even speak) was: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Surely, those words can only come out from a man who truly know what it means TO LOVE. His unmeasurable love for us trampled any amount of betrayal that can make him say: curse them! kill them! I hate them! May they suffer as I did! No, no, no… instead he asked God for forgiveness in our behalf. He interceded for us (for me). He embodied our sins by his death and by that death paved the way for us to be with the Father again. Only by the perfect blood sacrificed by Jesus that we are able to come before the Father. That cross is not only a symbol of Jesus’ death but also of His love that unto this day is being offered to us.

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NLT)

Oh Lord, forgive me. I am so sorry for my 30 silver coins. Oh Lord, forgive me.

Throwing away these 30 silver coins, I pray that you will guide my step and strengthen me to not exchange you for them. Your love saved me from my sins. Your grace covered me.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

***

After posting the blog link in Facebook, Kuya Jaime Hernandez commented:

“Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter denied Him three times. Judas killed himself but Peter led the first century church. Both of them knew Jesus and heard the same message. What’s the difference?”

The DIFFERENCE lies entirely on how these 2 apostles viewed Jesus in terms of their sins.

Judas was filled with remorse when he saw that Jesus was condemned. He returned the 30 silver coins to the Pharisees, who did not want to take it back, so he just threw it in the temple then went on and hanged himself. Certainly, Judas was blinded and only saw his sin, that after all the time he spent with Jesus, he was not able to believe Jesus’ capacity for forgiveness.

Peter on the other hand wept bitterly. He repented. Peter believed in the power of Jesus’ love. Like Peter, we must also understand that Jesus love covers a multitude of sins, God extended His grace to us through His Son and with that grace, we live to glorify His name and share the good news to everyone else.

We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming “sub-creator” and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic “progress” leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.

~ from the Architect of Middle-Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien

A map of the Middle-earth by artist Daniel Reeve.

Half-hearted Creatures

Posted: March 18, 2011 in FAITH
Tags: ,

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. WE ARE FAR TOO EASILY PLEASED (by C.S. Lewis)… BUT we are not easily satisfied (eerr by Cha).

I feel I’m committing a literary sin just by adding those words on CS Lewis’ thoughts. Reading his works made me see a man who has understood and gained wisdom about God. I, a mere reader and fan of his works, is just inching her way to comprehend The Maker’s sovereignty, moreover, a reader who doesn’t have any literary works to be worthy of any critics’ attention. A reader who might be even thrown with questionable looks by Lewis’ fanatics. haha.

Shameful as I was, I will stick to it. CS Lewis’ Weight of Glory took me days to finish considering that it was just 9 pages. That fact alone is an evidence how far his thoughts were from mine… how deep they were and how shallow mine is. Each paragraph  made me stop because much internalization is needed. Deep breaths were also needed for me to go on. And now that I re-read it again, one of the many (as in lots of great conversational pieces) things that I have come to agree with Lolo Lewis (I used to call him Pare but when I read Kuya Aleks Tan said Lolo, I realized that was just apt to use since it also connotes an image of a wise man) that we really are half-hearted creatures far too easily pleased. As I read on his thoughts of heaven and our longing for it, that was when I, apologetically, added BUT we are not easily satisfied.

It made me understand more the reality why we, humans, continuously want things in our lives. Why what we have now is never enough for us. We always want want want. We became creatures driven by our wants and our pursuit of it. But then we are wrong, we misunderstood want from LONGING. If we dig deeper, we can see at the bottom of it our longing for “something”. Something beyond what this world offers. We will never be satisfied with the things that we get from this world. We will never be satisfied and we will never stop longing because the main thing that we long for is not of this world. We will only be satisfied if we accept that which can truly satisfies. We will be satisfied on the day when the One who offers us LIVING WATER comes to fully satisfy our thirst and longing.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world“. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch. For you must not think that I am putting forward any heathen fancy of being absorbed into Nature. Nature is mortal; we shall outlive her. When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive. Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendour which she fitfully reflects. ~ C.S. Lewis

My God and My Questions

Posted: March 15, 2011 in FAITH

Recent events made the world see a glimpse of the end of days, days when all that we hold dear will be gone. We dealt with never-ending political problems, unrest in the Middle East, earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear radiation and even the everyday problems like facing the unbeatable rush hour traffic.

Most of us panicked and felt fear. We posted our thoughts on social networks; shared videos, photos and article links to get everyone involved and for those who believed on a Higher Being – we offered prayers to the people affected.

I, myself, reacted on the onset of Japan’s earthquake by posting links in Facebook on where they can watch the live streaming and info on what to do during earthquakes and tsunamis. Then in the midst of the frenzy heightened by more posts from my Facebook friends, I was suddenly struck with the thought that these things are bound to happen. Natural disasters do happen, Earth’s history is a testament of that. Political unrest will always be there with varied reasons from nations pushing for better societies to individuals pushing for their selfish gains. As for the traffic, well that is a fact faced by developed cities with a growing number of people who relies heavily on transportation. Live in the countryside and you won’t even have a taste of traffic.

With that thought, the panic and fear I felt was turned into a wave of calmness… My next post related to the Japan incident was a song that was very close to me when I, too, was in my darkest moment (yet). I posted this video with my thoughts: I will be still and know that you are GOD. Yes, I will be still Oh Lord. And the song became my prayer for everyone.

Over the weekend, I still pondered on the thought of how the idea of DEATH, more so death brought by destruction, can cripple the world. As we all know, life and death are things that people of whatever race or social classes share in common. The thought of life brings us joy and reasons to celebrate. DEATH on the other hand is a fact that we still have a hard time accepting. People continuously ask God to be spared from it. Even Jesus asked God if He can be spared. Yes Jesus, the  same man who was able to raise people from the dead, who made the blind see, heal people with leprosy, and other miracles that speaks of divine power, asked if He can be spared.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 NIV

But just like Jesus, we can not really escape death when it comes knocking on our doorstep (Yet not as I will, but as You will).

Now, lets backtrack a week before the Japan incident. I was exactly here in my work station, reading gruesome news of injustices around the world, of modern-day slavery, of human trafficking, of bad news happening my own country, the Philippines, of knowing that a dear friend of mine lost her mother to cancer, of having another friend still fighting with cancer, stories of my family, of my friends and strangers who were/are in the midst of their seemingly unsurmountable problems. My mind and heart felt like exploding. Mixed emotions of torment, empathy, of wanting to be a superhero and change things instantly, of feeling that I am not doing enough, discouragement, fears and worst feelings that the English Dictionary has no definition of.

Then I turned to someone who I can openly talk to about these things. I turned to God. Well it was not a sweet talk. It was more of me angrily asking Him with questions of WHY do these things happen? WHY do you let it happen? You are powerful right? WHY??? Seriously, do you still expect people to believe You amidst the chaos of this world? Ibang klase ka rin ano. (eeerrr Ok, how to translate in English?). I kept asking Him. WHY? WHY? WHY? Then New Zealand and Japan incidents, happened. As if the world was mocking me more because it happened in Christchurch, New Zealand. Tsk.

Anyway, I never got His answers. So I was really pissed. I never even attempted to open my Bible because I might not fully understand or just get verses that says, it is My Will, which will make me more pissed off. I didn’t even bother to tell it to my friends (specifically the Christians) because I might also get the same answer, it is GOD’S WILL and that can really add up to my pissed off state. Plus the fact that I felt fear of being questioned regarding my faith, which also made me question the existence of a very accepting and welcoming community, come on guys lets face it, we do become too “judgemental”. Then I finally got tired of angrily questioning God, so I told Him, Lord I will listen and I need guidance. Lord, I am lost with my thoughts on everything that is happening. I am getting crazy. GUIDANCE please.

I don’t know what happened but Kuya Jonathan Nambu, whom I worked for a stint in Samaritana Ministries and their library at home during my college days, came into mind. Maybe because he commented that he really liked the song  One Day by Matisyahu that I posted in Facebook a month ago (note even if there was a beatbox on it and he liked it! cool Kuya!) Maybe that was it, because Kuya Jonathan liked that song, too. That actually started our conversation and made me felt at ease with him even after a long time of no communication. So there, Kuya Jonathan popped into mind then I saw him online and asked if it was ok for me to email him something personal. His reply wasn’t that long but it was very sincere and full of understanding. It made me felt comfortable and excited to open up my Bible again.

I was faced again with another question as I stared at my Bible. I asked, Lord which book will I read? Then Deenu Abishek, my fellow FK participant who is posted in Tanzania, came into mind. (Thank you Lord for memories because they can really come in handy!). I remembered our conversation the month before on a topic about the frustrations of being “change-agents” in host organizations with people who doesn’t want to be changed and how our situations made us question our understanding of things.  He told me that I should read Proverbs. I said, I would but now you know, it took me more than a month to actually read it. I finally read the first few chapters of Proverbs last weekend.

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. ~ Proverbs 2:1-5 NIV

At this point, I am happy to report to you that I have not yet found all the answers to my questions of WHY this, WHY that nor do I fully comprehend God’s sovereignty (I can’t even say that without questioning myself if I pronounced it correctly and more so if I spelled it correctly – good thing WordPress has auto spell checker that puts a red mark on words that are misspelled).  I still have a lot of questions, BIG questions to God BUT I am calmed by the fact though that  HE IS MY LORD and MY SAVIOR. HE IS GOD. HIS WILL BE DONE.

So, I pray that I may be filled with understanding and wisdom as I continue reading Proverbs and conversing with God. I pray that I may fully understand the fear of the Lord, find the knowledge of God, and His sovereignty in everything that happened, is happening and will happen – that I will still live a life in pursuit of His will even if I may never understand everything nor get the answers to all of my questions.

I have a long way to go but I am on my way there, more on inching my way rather, crawling even… But this is something I am willing to go through and not ashamed of going through. This is something I don’t want to fast track on.

****

If you truly believe that there is a GOD that created the universe, then why would you be afraid to ask BIG questions? Why would you be afraid to love anyone? It opens the door to be able to be the most accepting people, the most loving, the most genuine and ask the biggest questions because there is nothing to be afraid of. ~ Jon Foreman, Switchfoot

My friends noticed that I’ve become a Jon Foreman fan, well because his songs speaks in my behalf when I can’t even process what’s happening inside of me. Hence my previous post: When i can’t find the words to say, Jon Foreman sings for me. 🙂

NOTE: The DEATH I’m referring here is just about PHYSICAL death. Now, on the other forms of death, I will write a separate blog post on that one.

Protected: Remembering a Very Dark Place

Posted: January 22, 2011 in FAITH

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