Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brace Yourself Like a Man

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
-- Job 23:1-7

Take a moment to stop, and imagine this...You are Neil Armstrong piloting the Lunar Module, Eagle. As it descended to the surface of the moon on that historic day, 20 July 1969, your forehead frowned in deep concentration, sweats trickled down your cheek, as you maneuvered the module while at the same time, monitored the various instruments, and paid close attention to the voice of Buzz Aldrin as he gave navigation data of your descent. In spite of the rigorous training you underwent, you can still feel a tinge of excitement building inside you. Why not? You will be the first man to land on the moon! Finally, Aldrin called out, "Contact light!" Minutes later you announced to the whole world, “The Eagle has landed!” How do you feel? Elated? Victorious? Proud? Relieved?

Now look at your lunar module, and think of the men and women who worked together to create this cutting-edge technology, which made your landing on the moon possible. How do you feel? Grateful? Awed? After all, the rocket, and the lunar module didn't form by itself, right? Brilliant minds, and very skillful hands made them.

So are you.

Look at the Pyramids of Egypt, listen to the Moonlight Sonata, gazed at the Mona Lisa, visit the Burj Khalifa, smell a Vera Wang Veil, taste a Swiss chocolate, and ask yourself, "Does all these complex, sophisticated, beautiful and wonderful things formed by themselves?" If your answer is the obvious NO, then obviously you are educated, indeed. Now look in the mirror, and ask yourself, "Does man, the most complex, sophisticated, beautiful, wonderful, and marvelous creature on earth, formed by "itself" from tiny one-cell non-intelligent microorganisms, which agreed over time to symbiotically combine together to form a superior, and intelligent multi-cell living thing?" If your answer is NO, then your thinking is unlike most scientist, indeed. Now stretch your imagination a little bit farther into the vast cosmos -- "Does the solar system formed, and worked "perfectly" by itself out of a chaotic origin?" If your answer is NO, then you get the point.

Every thing functionally complex, sophisticated, beautiful, wonderful and marvelous is a product of a brilliant designer, a gifted architect, a vistuoso, a master craftsman. This is not a product of randomness, coincidence, and chaos. A rock after thousands of years will still look like a rock, but in the hands of a Michelangelo will emerge The Statue of David. We have a creator, and He is the supreme master craftsman. Before you doubt and question Him or His existence, brace yourself like a man, when He asks you this question -- "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?" ...And you shall answer.

PS: Our supreme creator is God. When in doubt, study Him with critical yet open mind just like when your studying sciences. Ask yourself, "What if He is real?" You only need one reference book, and that is the Bible. If you want more motivation, google the list of former athiests and agnostics, and investigate why they chose to believe in Christ. Maybe, just maybe, there is an angle, a point, a line that you missed before.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The "I, MY, Mine" Won't Even Matter

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
-- Genesis 3:19

Have you seen the movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? It was about the love story between Daisy and Benjamin. What was curious about the story was that Benjamin was born with a physical condition of a 70-year old, and as years marched by, his body became younger. The story explored the possibility and the consequences when a man of Benjamin's condition, fell in love with a normal woman. It was really a thought-provoking movie; one that will linger in your mind long after the movie ended. Near the end of the story, Benjamin, now an infant, died in the hands of Daisy who was already around 70-yr old. Quite a twist!

However, in real life such phenomenon doesn't really happen, as far as I know. But what is true, even in the story, is that all of us will die, and that is as sure as the sun rises in the east, no twist whatsoever. And no amount of money in the world can prevent that either.

There was once a town named Laging-May-Tubig that was famous for its well; it didn't run out of water. People from other neighboring towns had to go to this town just to fetch water during the long dry summer spell when their wells ran dry. The well had blessed so many people most especially the folks in Laging-May-Tubig. As years went by, the people in the town became so used to the fact that the well didn't run dry, soon they started wasting water, and they never bothered to conserve. One day the well ran dry. Only then did the townsfolk realize how important was the well to them. But it was too late.

We are the townsfolk, and the water is our life. Like Benjamin, we will die someday.

Most of us live our life like sprinters, and car racers; we only stop to take a breath or to sleep, and then off we go again zooming to our next goal. We become a society of clock-conscious, schedule-bearing, and goal-oriented individuals. There is nothing wrong to this except what is the content of the planner; most often than not, it's just, "I, My, Mine."

Stop. Relax your mind. Feel the oxygen running through your nose, and down to your lungs. Enjoy all the beautiful creations of God -- the stars, the moon, the flowers, the trees, the birds, even the warmth of the sun, and many others, whenever you can. Enhance your God-given talent to become a virtuoso in your own right, and use your talent to serve others. Finally, enjoy the presence of your love ones, and your true friends. After all, the well will run dry for you, and for them.

In the end, it's not how far you've traveled or how fast you've traveled in your life, but how much love you've given to the people you've meet along the way, and how much you've helped them become better persons, that truly matters. The "I, MY, Mine" won't even matter.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fire and The Firefly

Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
-- Galatians 6:7-8

Little children have a fascination for fire. One night VECO decided to cast its infamous brown out spell to our entire neighborhood, and since we had no kerosene lamp, my wife lighted a candle. As the orange and yellow glow coming from the candle bathed the interior of our house, my one year old daughter, Eleanor, reached out to touch the burning candle. When I saw what she was about to do, it was already too late to stop her. My daughter suffered a very slight burn, but she learned a very important lesson that night – if you play with fire you get burned.

We grown ups considers ourselves as more mature than little children, yet from time to time we behave like na├»ve, little child. Like little children, we couldn’t tell the difference between a fire and a firefly.

Luis was a young professional working in a skyscraper-dotted business district somewhere in Manila. Like most yuppies, he was a sucker for the latest trends and gadgets. Even though his budget was on the edge, he couldn’t help himself being attracted to the latest silver 80G iPod Classic, ultra-slim Wave S8500 cell phone, Sony (bluetooth) headphones, 13” Macbook Aluminum, etc. As a result, he was buried deep in debt with three credit card companies after him. Yet in spite of all these, he remained ever faithful to his mantra, “Enjoy life now because life is too short (even to the point of excess)”.

Mario was a good-looking 30-year old something married man. But even with 3 children, he hadn’t abandoned his favorite pastime when he was still single; he liked to flirt a lot, and his proud of it. As a result, he had frequent confrontations with his wife over his "moonlighting". As his marriage hit rock-bottom, he felt that what was happening to his marriage wasn’t right, but when a girl looked at him seductively, and flashed that flirtatious smile, Mario just couldn’t help himself. “I’m a man…”, was his favorite mantra.

God created the world as one gigantic university that operates under one very simple rule: “You reap what you sow”. And there is only one type of exam: God places before you a fire, and a firefly. The fire represents the sinful ways of the world – attractive and enticing yet deadly, and destructive. The firefly represents the ways of God, unpopular yet life-giving, and truly satisfying. Your choices determine your fate; determine the kind of life you’re going to live. Will you remain a helpless child or become a man strong in spirit?

At this very moment, the fire and the firefly are set before you. It's time to make a choice. He is waiting...

PS: God always wanted to keep it straight and simple, so he gave only one textbook – the Holy Bible. Read it. Follow it. And reap the right fruits.

Friday, February 19, 2010

When an Opportunity is a Blessing

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.
-- Proverbs 10:22

How do you know if an opportunity is a blessing or not?

Fresh out from college, Sherwin Boston worked as a draftsman in one of the establishments somewhere in downtown Colon, Cebu City earning a meager P3000 per month, quite low for someone with a degree in BS in Architecture. Needless to say, he struggled to make both ends meet even when he was still single.

One day, opportunity knocked on his door when a friend tipped him that there was someone looking for a draftsman. Ever the person who always dream of a better life, he went and investigated. It turned out that the opening was for employment abroad, in Dubai. Since the starting salary, P30,000, was ten times his current salary, he tried his luck and applied for the position; to him the job opening was a new glimmer of hope for a brighter future.

To make a long story short, he passed the interview. However, there was a hitch -- he had to shell out for the airfare from Cebu to Thailand which would cost him P15,000, while the employer would shoulder the airfare from Thailand to Dubai. This was on top of the visa processing fee, and other fees he needed to shoulder as well. For someone who earned peanuts, the obstacle was tough indeed. But instead of going to the loan sharks, he negotiated with the employer by e-mail, asking them to pay for everything! It was a long shot indeed, but deep in his heart Sherwin believed that if this opportunity was a blessing from God, He would remove all the obstacles along the way just as the Holy Scripture says.

After a week no reply came. Then the second week came to pass and still no words from the employer. When the third week was about to end, he started to worry and became impatient. Regret, and doubt started to make their way into his heart, but he remained steadfast, and faithful. On the fourth week, he received a call. It was the employer, and they told him that they would shoulder all the expenses, including the airfare!
 
When God gives a blessing, He adds no trouble to it. So when a real opportunity knocks on your door with obstacles attached to it, it could mean that God wants to test your faith. If you remain faithful and patient like Sherwin, God will remove the obstacles one after the other, in perfect sequence and perfect timing, right before your very eyes. Otherwise, the opportunity may not be a blessing afterall; it could be one of those detour in life that one must avoid.

Now Sherwin is still in Dubai designing villas and residences, restaurants, and interiors; happy and contented with his life. His current income? P120,000-140,000 per month. Not bad for a blessing...

PS: Thank you to Gerson Boston for sharing this testimony. Sherwin is his younger brother.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Harsh Words, Gentle Words: Which to Choose?

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
-- Proverbs 15:1~2

There is a popular saying in Chinese: "More words, more mistakes. Few words, few mistakes. No word, no mistake." A very wise saying, and very true indeed.

A hungry and tired Ramon staggered into the living room of his house after a pressure cooker day at the office. His wife, Rowena, didn't smile at all because she felt ignored and unappreciated. Deep in her heart she wanted to be reassured that her husband still loves her more than his work, but somehow she couldn't express it that way. Ramon on the other hand just wanting only to eat and relax, chose to ignore the rising tension in his wife's eyes. A dry and highly combustible wall stood between the two, and it was only a matter of time before one of them would start a fire.

Then Rowena broke. She could no longer contain her emotion, so she stepped off the brake, floored the accelerator, and snapped at Ramon. "Why do you always come late? Why do you like to stay in your work more than our home?" Tension rising in her voice, as she fired one accusation after another.

At that very moment, the last thing that Ramon needed was a verbal tirade, so exasperately he pleaded his case. But Rowena, now armed with new tangible reasons to be mad (her husband's sullen look and insensitive remark) raised her voice a decibel higher than before. And on, and on went the two. Each verbal jab stoked the fire between them until it became uncontrollable. In the end both got burned.

How different would have been the outcome had Ramon heeded the adminition of the Holy Scripture. Instead of pouring gasoline over her wife's anger, it would have been wiser to soothe her with cool, gentle, and reassuring words. He may have to bend a little in his concept of what is reasonable; women can be very unreasonable creatures when hurt. He may have to cut a chunk off his pride, and looked at the situation from his wife's perspective. But aren't these small price to pay for peace and harmony in the home?

From time to time, we can be a Ramon. Therefore, we need to etch every words of God in our heart, and in mind. When emotion-stirring moments come, we need to rush back to these words for protection. Doing so will not only save us, but will also save our relationships with others from a whole world of trouble. So choose gentle words...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not One of Us can Create a Mt. Everest

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
-- Proverbs 1:7

Listening is the beginning of understanding, and learning. The reason why school is very effective in teaching our children is because the teachers somehow manage to get the respect and attention of our young ones. So whatever, Madaam Joy or Ms. Therese says, my daughter, Cybelle, believes and obliges. Why not? After one or more occasions when her teacher told her to punch the air much like a boxer shadowboxing as a disciplinary action, her teacher got her attention and she learned not to mess with her classmates anymore. We grown-ups can learn a thing or two from the young ones in this respect.

Everyday our blessings come without fail. This creates an illusion in our mind that we are self-reliant, and the more we believe in this lie, the lesser we need God in our life. And when we don't need God in our life, we loss our fear for Him. And when we loss our fear Him, we start ignoring Him. And when we start ignoring Him, we stop listening and talking to Him. And when we stop conversing with God, we become fools, despising wisdom and discipline.

Make no mistake, God can whip you, and wipe you out any time. Your millions-of-pesos house. Your excellent health. Your wonderful career. Your oodles of cash in the bank. Your beautiful family. Everything belongs to Him, we are just stewards, therefore He can take back all of these at his convenience. (Ask Job about it.)

We should fear God and treat Him with reverence. After all, not one of us can create a Mt. Everest or dig a Marianas Trench or light the Sun, but He can. That's awesome and fearsome, all in one breath! This way, like the children in school, we start learning...learning to live life the right way, in accordance to God's plan.