Saturday, November 26, 2011

Love Bell "The Love Guru"

LOVE BELL: Mga kaibigan, narito na naman tayo sa ating mainit na programang "Love Bell 'The Love Guru'. Ngayon po, as usual, babasahin natin ang mga liham ng ating mga taga-subaybay. Ito po ang liham ni Rika.

"Dear Love Bell. Isa ako sa inyong napakaraming tagahanga. Ako po ay si Anaclita Hayahay, Rika for short. Isa ho akong kasambahay. May nobyo ho akong ang pangalan ay si Tibo. Nagsimula ho ang pag-mamahalan namin sa isang text lamang. Napadalas ang aming pag-tetext hanggang sa na-uwi sa eye-ball ang lahat. Masayang-masaya ho ako sa simula. Palagi nya akong dinadala sa Jolibee. Umo-order sya parati ng hotdog sandwich para sa'kin. Damang-dama ko ho ang pag-ibig ni Tibo. Ngunit isang araw, tila nag bago ho ang lahat. Hindi na ho kami sa Jolibee pumupunta kundi sa mga sidewalk vendors na lang. Yan ho ang totoo Love Bell. Hindi na ho hotdog ang ino-order nya para sa'kin kundi kwek-kwek nalang ho. Ang tanong ko po sa inyo ay kung mahal pa kaya ako ni Tibo? Nagmamahal - Rika".

LOVE BELL: Mga kaibigan, yan ho ang malungkot na liham ni Rika.

LOVE BELL: Alam mo Rika, hindi naman nasusukat ang pag-ibig ninoman sa pagkain lamang. Nasusukat ito sa ibang aspeto ng buhay. Hindi porke't hindi na hotdog ang binibili ni Tibo para sa'yo ay hindi kana nya mahal.

LOVE BELL: Malay mo, wala lang talaga syang pera. Kina-kapos yong tao. Maawa ka naman. Ang mahal pa naman ngayon sa Jolibee. Malay mo, ang pera pala nya ay napupunta na lahat sa kwek-kwek na binibili nya para sa'yo. It's not the gift that matters it's the effort. O haa?

LOVE BELL: Kaya ikaw Rika, cool ka lang. At saka, masarap naman ang kwek-kwek a. Katunayan paborito ko ang kwek-kwek. Maka limang kwek-kwek nga ako isang araw. Alam mo bang super paborito ko ang kwek-kwek kaya ako, kwek-kwek sa umaga, kwek-kwek sa tanghali at kwek-kwek sa gabi. At hindi lang masarap ang kwek-kwek, puno pa ito ng protina. O haa?

LOVE BELL: Kaya chill kalang Rika. Yong boyfren ko nga, dinala ako sa santong kwek-kwekan. Kaya eto ako ngayon, na hilig na sa kwek-kwek.

LOVE BELL: Kaya ikaw kwek,,, este, Rika, wag mong isipin na hindi ka na Mahal ni Tibo. Be positive okey? Next letter sender...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Confusion Over Mideo

The Mideo controversy, I must admit, is a bit stale already. But I could not help from blogging about the subject for the seeming confusion it generated on everyone. From what I’ve read, the controversy appears to deal with issues on freedom of expression, artistic right, right of religion, decency, respect, etc. Each side of the argument also seems to carry some weight.

It is true, that if Mideo is honestly pursuing art, then in that sense, artistic freedom is the issue. He was out to provoke critical thinking and got it. Unfortunately, only Mideo himself knows exactly his real motives behind his artistic works. On the other hand, those who are offended by his works felt they’ve been disrespected, maligned, abused, etc. The latter do not see freedom of expression at work but a malicious hurling of insults to one’s belief. To this side of the spectrum, Mideo’s art is simply an immoral act.

Where do we draw the line between freedom of expression (artistic integrity) and morality (respect to others’ religious beliefs)? At what point do we not get offended morally by any piece of art?

Personally, I feel that no one is really interested in drawing the demarcations in these areas. Each side is more interested in venting its views and thoughts than finding out what truly makes sense. I guess this is the time where emotions rule. Today, we are interested in only one thing – expressing what we feel is right in our own eyes.

Looking at all this at a distance, I can only see clear confusion. We simply could not make up our minds what is the correct view or opinion over the matter. Others tried to strike a balanced view but end up, in my opinion, short. The “balanced” view appears weak and indecisive.

And yet, here’s the clincher. Does God even care about this whole thing? 

Note: For those who are confused who is Mideo, he is Mideo Cruz, a Filipino artist whose work of art includes, among other things, a picture of Christ with a phallus as a nose. His recent art exhibit in the Philippines provoked an outcry from all over the country.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Problem of Pain

I visited a lawyer friend last friday and we talked a good deal about our jobs. Soon, our conversation turned to God. My friend explained that he is not quite sure what to believe about God anymore although he is quick to say that He still believe there's God. He is not sure whether he could embrace the God of the bible considering the situation of the world today

"What about the situation of the world today?" I asked.
"Well there's a lot of killing, disaster, famine, etc., I mean how can someone like 'God' exist amidst all these?" he replied.

"That's a fair and legitimate observation. But that's not a new critique against Christianity or any religion for that matter. This has been asked many centuries ago. In fact, this question has been ably answered by noted Christian thinkers such as C.S. Lewis" I explained.

In essence this question is saying that the idea of a loving and powerful God cannot co-exist with a world full of suffering and pain. If God is the God of love, he would not allow his creatures to suffer. And if He is all powerful, He can eradicate all suffering. Since suffering still exist today, then God is neither loving nor all powerful. In other words, he does not exist.

"What would happen, if God would act on every whims of prayer every person makes on earth?" I asked him. 

We all make foolish prayer - "God please let me win this lotto game", "God please make him love me", "God please make him suffer", or "May you go to hell".

"If you want God to act on every prayer, why not ask God to make us all good persons and just simply obey all his commands. But in such case, that would make us all robotic". I explained.

"You see, freewill is a precious gift from God. He made us with a rational mind and a freewill to choose and act between good and evil. With a rational mind, we know the distinction between right and wrong. With a freewill, we have the power to choose and to do that which is right or wrong. In other words, we get to decide what to will. This is one of the reasons why there exist pain, suffering or evil in this world" I said.

I could see his face brightened. He seemed to see things in a different light now. But then, he seemed hesitant to rationally commit to anything. My watch says 3:30 p.m. and I still have a client to see. We exchanged cards and invited him to our little group discussion every saturday. He said he's not available this coming saturday. I told him I'll just visit him sometime. He said he'll be in his office most of the time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Walking My Mind Off

I've been rummaging through my video files and came upon an old video that I made about a year ago. The video is about me taking an afternoon walk in our neighborhood. And while walking around, I sort of record what goes in my mind randomly. This is the beauty of walking. Your mind is so free to wander from the most mundane to the most spiritual thoughts your mind could grasp. It's fun.

For the video camera, I used a little Samsung camcoder and tinkered the outcome with Movie Maker. For the background music, I stole it somewhere on the net (hehe). I hesitated to load up the video here but some important people just encouraged me to upload it, arguing that its the best video they've ever seen in their entire existence - my wife and my daughter. No, of course not. I guarantee, they are not biased in their judgment on the substance and quality of the video. 

Without further ado, here's the madness.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Craving For Meaning

I am currently reading a book by Erwin McManus called “SOUL CRAVINGS”. This book advances that premise that the deepest cravings of our soul is God and this by itself is evidence that He exist. It is God who puts this longing in us so that because of it we would seek Him.

One of the cravings of the human soul according to McManus is the longing for meaning. He says “I’ve learned something about us humans: we just don’t do well when we feel our lives are meaningless. Something inside us drives us to meaning. Why is it that when we have no meaning for our lives, something inside of us gets really sick? Conclude that life is meaningless and you’ll find yourself struggling with fear, angst, and doubt”. I cannot agree more with these words.

A popular inspirational speaker, Francis Kong experienced this. While still in his thirties he achieved a considerable amount of success in his career. He did so well with his work that he felt he was on top of his game. One night he went home and sat on his sofa. Suddenly, he felt a sense of ending. He felt that he had hit a wall. He felt so empty and meaningless. He got so successful that there seemed to be nothing more left. This created a sense of emptiness in him.

Soon thereafter, he got depressed. His depression got worse each passing day. There was just no way he could get out of the rut. His health hit rock bottom. He was just lying on his bed unable to get himself out of this spiralling hell. All his wife could do was pray. Her prayers however, were answered.

Francis prayed a desperate prayer – “God if you are true, heal me right now, please”. After praying this desperate prayer he slept. And he slept. He slept for days. When he woke up he saw his wife smiling telling him that he had slept for days. He felt a sense of relief and lightness. The depression seemed gone. This was the beginning of his new life in Christ. From then on, Francis Kong became one of the most sought after Christian inspirational speaker in the Philippines.

In the same way that God “designed” the universe, he also “designed” human life to find its purpose and meaning in Him. This is a fundamental truth. Our deepest longing and craving is God. We are designed this way. Whenever we seek affirmation, attention, happiness, fun, entertainment, love, we are actually driven by a longing for God. Until we understand this, all our pursuits in this life fall short from its true satisfaction – God.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Art of Being A Man

Yesterday, I was browsing some old books over at the NC Mall, Booksale and I saw this eye-popping book:

This book's title is loud and clear - "How To Mow The Lawn". Sounds so innocent and domesticated. And it's daringly practical. No one nowadays know for sure how to mow their lawns. What got my attention however was the caption above the title - "THE LOST ART OF BEING A MAN". Now if you desire a closer look at this caption, let me show you.

How's that for a caption, huh? I didn't know that being a man was an art. Much more that this is now a lost art. The author has the brilliant idea of restoring this lost art by suggesting some plan of action - mowing the lawn. To the author's mind, there is no other way to do this restoration plan than this. He is so excited about the idea that he made this the very title of his book.

I understand that this book belongs to an era where mowing lawns was venerated as the epitomic symbol of manhood. This was the Al Capone world. This was the time when to spit anywhere, pee anywhere, puke anywhere, etc. were nothing but manly. This was the world where there were only two gender classification - male and female. The in-betweens were massacred indiscriminately and with impunity.

How time flies. Now, we have "azimo" taking care of our lawns. Well actually, we don't need much of lawns these days. We put marble slabs all over the place so we do not have to worry about the grass. Besides, grasses are breeding ground for animal dung. And nothing destroys your holy morning devotional hour than the sight of a wet, colored, and a moundful cat waste. Your spiritual glory just fly off the window.

Now to wrap this up, here below are some course of actions the author suggest to regain this lost art:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spiritual Life

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

This passage is taken from the English Standard Version. However, I like the clarity and illuminating version of God’s Word translation which says “Life is spiritual. Your physical existence doesn't contribute to that life. The words that I have spoken to you are spiritual. They are life.” This translation starts with a direct and truthful premise on life – that it is spiritual. Right there, it challenges the materialistic view with its sole emphasis on what can be seen, felt, heard, and experienced.

What does truly give life? This seems to be the question posed by this text. Is it the body, the human heart, the human brain? Is it our senses the makes us alive? John says no. It is the spirit of God that gives life. To be exact, it is God’s Word that gives life. Jesus said that his very words are spirit and life.

Often, we are deluded into believing that our senses make us alive. That is why we feed and numb our senses with impunity. We go here and there and lusts for many things. We travel, climb mountains, ride airplanes, eat and drink just so we could have what we call “life”. We believe that the more things we stuff ourselves with the more we have fulfilled lives.

Sadly, it is not our senses that define life. Life is designed to be spiritual. It is designed to crave for spiritual things. It is designed to crave for God. That is why in this sense, “your physical existence doesn’t contribute to that life.” Since life is spiritual, it is sustained, nourished, and maintained by the spirit – that is, the Spirit of God. There is no other way by which life is maintained and lived.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Craving To Be Led

A Christian magazine reads “Whether or not we believe it or would even say it out loud, we are hard-wired with a desire to be led”. I believe this is true. We all need someone to look up to, copy, or emulate. This is more illustrated in our tendency to go after fads and crazies. We tend to follow the crowd. The crowd leads our action.

However, before there is a crowd, there are individuals who ignite the crowd to follow suit. These are mavericks. These are the leaders of the pack. They wade through the jungle ahead of the many and go to places and situations first. The rest look up and simply follow.

In our lives, there are also those whom we emulate or copy, or are intentionally designated as our leader. This person maybe a friend, a co-worker, the Pastor or Priest in our church. They consciously or unconsciously lead us our ways, thoughts and actions. Either solicited or not, this system is beneficial because it fulfils a particular human need - the desire to be led.

I once had a designated leader who had the authority to lead me. He was my pastor. He taught me many things including the love of reading books. Above all, he taught me the way to live the Christian life by the way he lived his life. For a number of years he was my mentor and my guide. Life was quite easy because of his guidance and leading.

Now, he’s gone from my life and I had to find my way alone. I had to wade through the jungle of life to lead myself. And I did with God’s grace. Gradually, I became aware that I had to be a leader too. I developed a growing sense of obligation to lead others as a way of paying back what I enjoyed before.

I’m convinced this is what God intends for his people – to lead each other unto all righteousness. Paul himself said “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). He continues “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). As children of God, we are obliged to “stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). This is an obligation we need to consciously assume and faithfully engage.

Every time we engage with our friends, co-workers, love ones, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must (consciously but not obviously) “lead” them unto good deeds. This may come by way of an advice, a prayer or by simply being with the person. The most important thing is that we are consciously pursuing to bless, encourage, and motive others in their journey of faith. We must always be aware that a friend, co-worker, loved one, or brother/sister craves to be led in life and we have an obligation to meet such need.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Drifted Far Out

I once had a friend who was like a father to me. He taught me many things about God and Jesus. We had great time in those charismatic movements of the 80’s and 90’s. We were in the midst of a swirling and unforgettable spiritual movement. Then somehow, the movement stopped. At least to me, it stopped. But we were so used to having these movements. We could not go on without one. We always expected there would be another great spiritual season or movement waiting to happen.

A new teaching came. It offered “something new”. It offered a “movement”. It was too dazzling to be ignored. My friend got hooked. This could start something big. This could turn around the long church plateau. This could bring in the Kingdom of God.

I was hesitant to join in. I had not yet gotten over the fact that the “movement” stopped. Eventually, I joined in. My friend and the rest swam into this new thing like children jumping, diving, and playing in a river. I could not join them for long. This new thing simply twisted what I have learned about God and Jesus. Our need for a new thing simply made us abandon long held beliefs about Christianity. Like a big, steel ship, we let loose all anchors and venture out in the open sea. I simply could not join the ride anymore. I bid my friend farewell.

Soon, I learned that this new movement came to a very controversial and disastrous end. Lives were ripped apart. Churches split. Congregations scattered. Like sheep without a shepherd, each one went about his way to uncertainty.

My friend on the other hand went on. With a handful of what remained, he persisted unto another “new thing”. This time things were different. This new belief is totally devoid of Christianity. The new belief is tolerant, accommodating, non-judgmental and all inclusive. The premise starts with the self. The latter is the starting point whereby one views all truth.

Unfortunately, this new belief is not at all new. “Nothing’s new under the sun”. Genesis tells a story about it. The serpent said to eve “your eyes will be opened (awareness) and you will become like God”. I thought, what went wrong? How could a person, so strong in faith and knowledge of biblical truths lose it all?

There is no simple and straight answer to this. I can only think of 1Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons”. Also, 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions”. And finally, Mark 13:22 “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect”.

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