Monday, April 29, 2013

Page 119 of 365: What Not to Look For in a Leader

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Sometimes, to know who to vote, we tend to know who not to vote. Here are
some things an aspirant should not be. Philippine Star
Inspired by a blog post and the preaching last night, I made this article that may act as a guide for the coming May 13 election. Yes, you're reading the headline right. What makes a true leader different than the rest is that while all of us have leadership skills (believe it or not, you are a leader), he uses his leadership skills rightfully. But it also means some use their skills in a wrong manner. Here are some things you should NOT look for in a leader.

1. Selfishness

To be a leader means you are ready to give up everything for the sake of service. The sad reality is that most, if not all, of us don't like the idea of sacrificing something. My pursuit of covering the Palarong Pambansa was something I still held on to till the time the chosen media trooped to Dumaguete. When God told me to give it up, it was very difficult. He taught me not to be selfish and just think about Him. He also reminded that there is a more important thing than the Palaro. Curiously, giving up something can also be an act of selfishness. As exemplified above, sacrificing is giving up something important for another of a bigger importance. Sometimes, we agree to give up something because we look at the benefits. Being too focused on the prize is also selfishness. A leader should not be selfish, but selfless. Selflessness is exemplified through sacrificing for the right purpose. One example is of Katniss Everdeen of "The Hunger Games". She did not want her younger sister to get killed at an early age, so she took her place by volunteering to battle, knowing that she herself might get killed. Katniss sacrificed her life for Prim's life. By the way, it so happened that I was watching the movie on Star Movies and on the internet while finishing this. The best example, however, is of Christ (look at the Scripture below). If the Lord tells you to give it up, give it up. No ifs; no buts. Also, look to Him, not to the benefits.

2. No Direction

I ran thrice in my high school's student council elections, and my record is a staggering 0-3! The Lord revealed to me why, "OK. You're elected. You win. What's next?" A true leader should have a direction in life. Just like what a friend's blog post says (and I hate to admit it), each of us commits corruption of a certain kind. Just like in his example, if you exchange your vital vote for a certain amount or you elect him just because he's a homie, then you're corrupt (we'll get to the homie part later). Adding to those, we can also commit corruption. If you just want to get voted only to get some bragging rights, that's corruption (I'm guilty). The sad reality, many politicians just want to get the titles president, governor, mayor, councilman, etc., but would only use that for their own benefits. When asked about a change of jersey numbers during her team's volleyball match, former Ateneo Lady Eagle Fille Cainglet answered, "It's just for fun." I attest: that's the same answer I would say if I was asked why I wanted to be elected to the student council. Hopefully, that's not the reason the politicians have in mind on why they want to be elected. If you want to get an electoral spot, you should have a direction you want your area of jurisdiction to take ready too. I'm not saying that you should not vote for your homie, whether he's a friend or a family member. Being a friend or a close family member of a certain aspirant means you know him a lot. But I'm telling you that if he has no clear reason why he should be elected, better tell him, "It's not too late to back out."

3. Not Putting Jesus at the Center

I mentioned earlier that we are in a way corrupt. That's because we commit sin. Romans 3:23 gives you a clear answer on who among us are corrupt... ALL OF US! But Jesus Christ did the ultimate sacrifice. He died on the cross, and along with Him are our sins. Because of Him, we can now connect to God. Jesus is the perfect Leader because He is selfless. He sacrificed Himself just to save us from the bondage of sin. My challenge to the electoral candidates is that they should be like Christ, being selfless. However, I know they, in fact we, can't be Christlike by our own. We need Jesus to be our Master so that we can gain an attitude like His. One way to be Christlike is by putting the Lord at our center. Yes, He should not be last but also not the first. The Lord should be at the center of our lives. Meaning, He should have a sight of the things we do and make Him lead the way. We should let the Lord take control. My hope is that the politicians should have Christ at the center of their governance.

PS: The politicians will not tell us that they're selfish, directionless, and not looking at God's example. In the end, it's still your call. Talk to God on who to elect. Look at their credentials too, and ask yourself, "What do I want for my country?"

Read Philippians 2:3-11 to see the example of Christ.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Page 117 of 365: Another Reason to Read Your Bibles

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Noah's Ark is still lying on Mt. Ararat!
The Bible is one tool we Christians turn to in times we get into scenarios which could put our faith to the test. It indeed helps us in our walk with God because everything it says is true. In John 16:33, the Lord Jesus Christ tells us that we will engage in troubles, but also  He tells us that He already overcame it. He did that by taking our troubles along with our sin to the cross.

But the following video you're about to see will make you say, "Hey! The Bible is indeed for real!" In Genesis 8:4, it says that the Noah's Ark, after the Great Flood ended, rested for good on Mt. Ararat in what is now the country Turkey. In 2010, an expedition went to Ararat and saw this.
Read Genesis 6-9 for more.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Page 115 of 365: Post-Birthday Reflection

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My team may have given me a nice birthday gift, but
the Lord had a nicer plan on celebrating it.
Let's start with a Scripture: "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (Proverbs 27:1)"

I locked everything up for April 24 the day before. I booked a slot for the press conference of renowned figure skater Michael Martinez at the Royal View Seafood Restaurant in MOA. Then I also got a spot at Eastwood for a bloc screening of "Iron Man 3". Then I set to go to Victory Pioneer's first Wednesday service.

What happened? I made it to the Mike Martinez presscon and left there in time. But the traffic at EDSA from Roxas Boulevard to Taft Avenue was so heavy that it used up about 30 minutes of my time. I had to rush to the MRT only to find out that the train departed at exactly 4:00 PM, the time I and my fellow bloggers were supposed to meet at Eastwood. I made it to the Cubao area at around 4:20 PM. Then I checked the internet a bit to review the contacts for the bloc screening at Eastwood, which is a PHP10 (PHP8 if you're a student, senior citizen, or a PWD) jeepney fare away. But even the traffic at Aurora Boulevard and at Garcia Avenue, aka C5 did not help my cause as I made it to Eastwood just before 5:00 PM, a 25-minute ride on rush hour traffic. To make matters worst, while I presumed that we were to meet up at the Cyber Mall, the actual place was at the main mall. I arrived there, only to see the sponsors of the event, AppLabs, packing up. So I did not get a free ticket. I had a dilemma: should I buy an Iron Man 3 ticket or not? I set that aside as I found myself free to watch San Mig Coffee's game against Meralco at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. I rushed back to Cubao, bought a cartolina and a marker at a National Bookstore branch there, then headed to the Big Dome. The Mixers won, 90-82. Then I made my mind to buy a last full show ticket at Eastwood. So it's still "all's well that ends well" for me.

You see, even if it's your birthday, you might not get the way you want to celebrate it. What more in a normal day? That's a testament to the proverb above. Everything is not an accident. It's God who sets everything up for us. He gives us the blessings we need and even want, but He also allows trials to happen to us. They're all for a purpose: for us to acknowledge that the Lord makes our day. Let us thank the Lord for the breakthroughs. Let us also thank Him for the unanswered prayers because He knows better than us. Let us also thank Him for the trials, because we are sure that He will help us overcome them.

To the Lord, thank You for adding another year to my life. To all who greeted, thank you very much.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Page 109 of 365: When God Says No

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When you don't get the answer you want, just continue to trust God.
By this time, the chosen bloggers who will cover the Palarong Pambansa have already packed their things en route to Dumaguete. I expressed my desire to cover the games by registering at the Google Docs link given to us. I eagerly awaited for the email, but nothing came. In a more frustrating manner, I lost my SIM card too, so I don;t know if I received an SMS. To cut the long story short, with the addition of the tension at another sports event, the Boston Marathon, the Lord answered my prayer of covering the games (and celebrating my birthday at Dumaguete) with a no.

I was moved by Alex Castro's recent post on CIFL. Like him, it was difficult to accept that I wouldn't be able to cover the Palaro in flesh. What more celebrating my birthday in an uncharted territory (I'm not saying I've had enough celebrating April 24 either in Laguna, in Palawan, or in Metro Manila). But in the end, God's answer may not be what I want, but what I need.

God answers all our prayers, but the answers may not be in the way you think. Like I mentioned above, it's possible that He will answer no to our prayers. But think about this: the Lord knows what's good for us better than we are. With time running out and no email surfacing, I began to feel that big no. Then I was moved when the pastor at a Friday service exhorted and called us to surrender our desires. Then it became clear, "Sorry, Ivan," says the Lord. "I want you to give up on your pursuit." Again, it's hard to accept it, but that's what God says. The reason became clear when the Boston bombings happened, "I want you to be safe so that you can be happy come your 25th birthday," says God. I don't know if a terrorist attack will rock Dumaguete, but I hope the Lord will take care of them.

Like I mentioned, God's answer is not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. That weekend, I was moved with what I heard. From the exhortation in the Friday service to the preaching in the Sunday service and even to what my friend demands me of my prayer before we eat. God is telling me something, but I need to get clearer Words from Him. About what? I will not tell it here because it's a very serious and sensitive one.

Maybe your faith and actions are in sync, yet you haven't received the answers to your prayers. God will answer all of them, but it may not be in the way you wanted. Even if it's a no, hold on to the Lord. What He will provide you can give you more pleasure than the thing you want. Just trust Him.

Read Matthew 7:7-11, 1 John 3:11-24, and Psalm 119:4-6.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Page 90 of 365: Easter Reflection

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The EKstreme Tower Ride
I was invited again to Enchanted Kingdom to cover the Easter events there. While waiting for the events to take place, my blog squad was given a chance to try some of the rides. Being the daredevil that I am, I tried the EKstreme Tower Ride. I hopped on, saw the ride being elevated up above so high that I can see the entirety of the Laguna Lake and... BOOM! The sudden drop! I survived that ride, and I can't help but scream to express my reaction afterward. I'm not that of an acrophobic, but I wanted to jump out of the ride and say, "I quit!" After the ride, I even wanted to cuss! Being a Christian, I kept my poise.

One thing I realized after surviving the ride was, "I don't wanna jump from that high!" I also felt the feeling of committing suicide (or at least an accidental fall). I'm pretty sure it's so hard for someone to take his life. OK! This is not a late "I condemn Kristel Tejada" post. I am actually disappointed with the harsh comments she got like "She's a loser." But if I was a good friend of Kristel, I would have told her to keep her faith. Paul reminded Timothy in his second epistle to him that he should not get troubled by all the trials. Like Timothy, God has given us the Spirit that does "not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)."

A living proof of that was Jesus Christ. He declared in John 16:33 that He has already overcome the world. He proved that by returning to life in the third day after He was crucified. He brought along on the cross our sins and problems. This Easter, let's celebrate our victory through Him. You may experience downfalls that could drop you faster than gravity. But just like how the EK staff controlled the ride before we hit the ground, Jesus is here to keep us safe and provide for us. Don't give up! Let go and let God!

Read 2 Timothy 1:1-18 and 1 Kings 19:9-18