Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jesus is No Genie!

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Do you tend to relegate Jesus to a genie? I admit to that
and it's wrong.
I was born in a Christian family, so I don't have any idea of what the Catholics feel if they complete the "Simbang Gabi" from December 16 to 24. But myths have it that if you make a "grand slam", then your wishes will be granted. However, I got inspired to do this article thanks to the latest installment of the Youtube series "Tales from the Friendzone". The latest webisode is about a girl who's in love with her bestfriend and wished that he would tell his feelings to her too. Looking for a sign, she completed the Simbang Gabi. Although she got what she wanted, the advice to her from the host Ramon Bautista is for me the key here. He said, "Grabe ka naman Cleverlyn (not the protagonist's real name)! Magsi-Simbang Gabi ka para humingi ka ng wish. GINAWA MO NAMANG GENIE SI JESUS."

Emphasizing on the sentence in all caps, it's a reality we're in right now. Even I am guilty of this. We sometimes relegate the Lord Jesus Christ to a wish-granter. I even remember what my pastor once said, "We tend to fit our big God to a small box." Let us remember that Jesus is definitely not a genie. He's our Lord, our Master. If He's a genie, he would grant all our wishes, even those that He doesn't like to be granted. That's where His Lordship comes. He knows what everyone REALLY needs. He sometimes says no to some of our prayers because He has a better thing in mind for you.

About Simbang Gabi, it's OK if you have a prayer request, or in this case a "wish", but Ramon is right about it. Simbang Gabi is not really meant to grant wishes. It's a channel to give thanks to the Lord for what He did to you the entire year. With even the Protestants like us also having our own Simbang Gabi, I make sure that I will be there to listen to what God has to say for the Yuletide.

In the end, Jesus is everything we want Him to be. He is the Almighty God, and He can do everything. But all He asks for us is to let Him take the driver's seat. Let's put Him at the center of our lives and we should not try to turn Him to a mere somebody. Let His bigness consume us, and you will experience something awesome. Merry Christmas again!

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)-For unto us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas is for Us!

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Jesus Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ is God's ultimate gift to us.
Although Pastor Robert Hern of Victory Pioneer was not feeling well voice-wise, he was still able to preach a short but powerful Word of God to us during the Christmas service last night. The summary of the preaching is in itself a preaching: Christmas is for us!

Christmas is one example of God's grace to us. We don't deserve this holiday, but God gave Christmas as a gift to us. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." He loves us so much that He will not allow us to stay under the curse of sin. That's why He sent His Son Jesus Christ to save us. As the angels told the shepherds in Luke 2:9, this is a good news of great joy. We should be happy that Jesus cleansed us from our sins.

It doesn't matter if you received gifts or not, but you should remember that Christmas is in itself a gift from God. In fact, Jesus is the greatest gift we have received.

Celebrate Christmas with a Smile

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After reading my high school friend's latest blog post, I can't help but observe how we should celebrate Christmas. A recent SWS survey showed that almost 60% of the respondents think Christmas this year is indifferent from last year. Only a third of the respondents find Christmas this year will be more festive, while rest think Christmas was better last year.

Nothing wrong with the majority who find this year to be as good (or bad) as last year, but the 30% who find optimism that this Christmas is something to celebrate is a testament of how we should look at the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. Regardless of the situation, whether your town was devastated by storms like the case of the Typhoon "Pablo" victims, you have a relatively not-so-good year (all of us had bad moments this year), or this year is a topsy-turvy one, we must celebrate Christmas (and Boxing Day too for the British readers) with a smile. God gave Christmas to us (more on this in another Christmas post) so that we could celebrate the coming of our one and only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who would free us from the bondage of sin.

Luke 8:48 (NIV)-And Jesus said, "...your faith has made you well. Go in peace."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Is Tomorrow Really the End of the World?

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end of the world
Will the world end tomorrow? Only God knows the answer!
Today is December 20 (as of writing), the day before the Nostradamus-predicted and media-hyped "doomsday" on December 21. I know this end of the world issue has flocked social media so much. Now, even a Youtube video is linking the "doomsday" to Park Jae-Sang aka Psy's smash hit "Gangnam Style", which already has more than 988 million hits as of writing (unfortunately, the video was deleted)! So you may ask? Will the world end by tomorrow?

Here's my honest answer: I DON'T KNOW! Now you're getting confused, uh? Actually I am hoping that the world will not end tomorrow, but I'm not the one who can stop it. The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:35-36, "Heaven and earth will pass away... But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son (that's Jesus), but ONLY the Father (which is God)." Emphasizing the word "only", it's our Lord God who has sole total control over what's going to happen tomorrow. The only thing that is sure about "doomsday" is that Jesus will return like a thief (Matthew 24:42-44). For those who don't get it, Jesus is not and will never become a thief, because He doesn't sin. It only means that the Lord will return by surprise.

So what should we do? Firstly, don't believe on the rumors, as told by the Lord in Matthew 25:4. We should not be deceived by the false predictions. Secondly, "...keep watch (Matthew 24:42a)." I'll just remind you again that God is in control of everything. Simply, be on guard, for you'll never know when He will come. And lastly, hold on to the only thing that will never pass away, God's Word, the Bible (Matthew 24:35b). Read your Bibles so that you will not anticipate Christ's return in fear, but in faith. To wrap it up, I'll share the thing that I will do if the world ends: Worship God for all He has done. Again, only God knows when "doomsday" will come. It may be tomorrow; it may be not. Does that mean we'll not worship Him because we don't have an idea when? No! It actually means that we should worship Him every day of our lives.

PS: I don't know why people call it "doomsday", but it's better to call that day Worship Day.

Another PS: If you're reading this by December 22 or later, you can shout "I survived thanks to the Lord God Almighty!"

PS no. 3: For more on what to expect come Jesus' second coming, you should read the book of Revelation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Is Manny's Retooled Faith a Losing Factor?

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Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
Manny Pacquiao may have lost to Juan Manuel Marquez, but he won a big-
ger fight--the battle against sin.
We all know what happened yesterday. Manny Pacquiao lost for the second straight time after succumbing to a right hook by Juan Manuel Marquez just before the end of the sixth round of their fourth meeting at Las Vegas. After being out cold for a minute or two, Manny stood up as if he's the winner and congratulated JuanMa. But I already expected a flux of tweets, Facebook wall posts, blog articles, etc. saying that Pacquiao's revitalized relationship with God is to blame for his two recent losses. What I can't believe is that even Dionesia Pacquiao blamed the pastors for "letting JuanMa put on a show". So is PacMan's revitalized relationship with God a factor behind his losses?

The question has slowly become how an athlete or sports analyst should ask the question "Can religion save us?" For a sports blogger, a basketball player, an "ultras guy" (Ask a soccer-crazy friend about this... Wait! Is it the right time to call myself that?) who miss playing soccer, sometimes an ultimate player, and most importantly a Christian for more than a decade now, I'm firm in saying that religion DOES NOT save us, but having God in your life as written in Acts 16:31. Now, to answer the sporty version of the controversial question, Manny Pacquiao's newly-refurbished relationship with the Lord HAS NOTHING TO DO with the losses. Winning and losing (and even settling a draw) a sporting event, whether it's boxing, basketball, soccer, or even a simple DOTA tournament nearby, is according to how the Lord wants it to happen. In winning, God is telling us that we succeeded because of Him. In losing and even in drawing the game, God is reminding us that we should leave everything to Him.

In fact, because Manny Pacquiao put his full faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, he won the biggest prize... Oh wait! It's not a prize, it's a gift from the Lord! That's eternal life. For me, seeing someone having a personal relationship with God is the biggest bacon ever. No championship is better than being saved from the bondage of sin and being with the Lord. Maybe Manny Pacquiao lost a fight, but he won the war! Hats off to you, Manny! May God bless you more!

A lesson learned after the fight: the Manny Pacquiao loss may have given us a crushed spirit, but we should still be joyful that there's more to come for Manny. Proverbs 17:22a (NIV) says, "A joyful heart is good medicine..."