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.

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