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Barely a month after celebrating the New Year (2011) we already have experience a lot of things in our country; floods, landslides, crime incidents which we have shaken a lot of people, the bombing of a public transportation in Makati resulting in multiple deaths and injuries, holdap-robbery, brutal killing of car dealers by carnappers which burned their bodies, fare hikes, exuberant increase of toll fees, economic crisis, hunger, and spread of diseases.

Why do we have to experience all these sufferings? Isn’t God supposed to be kind, merciful, and benevolent to all people in the World? Is God already fed up of our continuous sinning that he gave us all sorts of problems in the world to awaken us and turn our eyes on Him for his protection? Are there not enough Christians today praying for peace, prosperity, and righteousness of the spirit that the quality of human life is deteriorating that much? Honestly these are difficult questions to answer when we begin to lose our faith and confidence with God.

Our spiritual advisers usually tell us, God allows man to experience pain so he could learn from God how to cope with them. Yes, when we ask God to help us in our struggle in life he does not only lift our sorrows and burdens but lead us to the way on how to deal with them personally. We are not called children of God for nothing; he equipped us with the power and capacity to make ourselves better and functional persons. All we do is to rely on God and keep our faith to Him growing every second in our lives.

Here is a prayer which could inspire us and give us the empowerment to go through all the trials of living. From Matthew 6:10-14, the Lord’s Prayer. Try reciting this prayer with all faith in your heart and you will experience a more meaningful relationship with God. God bless! 

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, 
thy will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. for ever and ever. Amen 

 

Many claim that Filipinos celebrate the longest Christmas holidays in the world;  it starts as early as September and ends after New Year. When Filipinos celebrate Christmas they don’t only go to church for the night mass (simbang gabi) but usually have a lot of parties at home, school, community, and offices. Christmas is not complete without merry making and exchange gifts. Not only that there are fireworks, dancing on the streets, drinking spree, and singing with loud Karaoke machines.  And I forget something, expensive Christmas decorations and plenty of lights that can awe the public. That’s why business becomes active during Christmas season and so with crime incidents. People from all walks of life can not just let it go without the traditional “noche buena” where the family come home and eat together to celebrate Christmas. Everybody is happy during Christmas to the extent of forgetting what they are celebrating for and why they are celebrating.

I mentioned about rising crime incidents during Christmas. Criminal elements like robbers, snatchers, and kidnap for ransom folks are everywhere. And if you are not careful you may fall victim on them. They don’t only take your money and other valuable things but even your life if you resist. This, harming people, they do it without hesitation only to get some money to spend for Christmas. Oh, what a tragic way to celebrate Christmas! It’s a pity that criminal elements and unscrupulous people prey on other people just to have something to spend for Christmas. As if we have forgotten the very reason we celebrate, the birth of Jesus who will be sacrificed at the cross of Calvary for the atonement of our sins. I just don’t know why people commit crime just to celebrate the birth of the Savior our Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas to some is not meant to rejoice for the birth of the Savior but to take the occasion as a reason to enjoy, lavishly spend their resources to show up, and for self gratification.

Christ was born in a manger just to teach us a lesson of humility. Happiness is not what we have and we can show but the expression of faith in our hearts. Christmas is a time to give, not only material things for you to be praised by other people but above all your heart. You give up your pride and forgive those who harmed you. Humility is the foundation of true love. Christ’s humility led Him to cross for our Salvation.

Of course I highly appreciate also kind hearted people who share what they have for the poor such as  food, money, and other kinds of gifts to make other happy during Christmas. With or without TV cameras focused on them, they feed the hungry and assist the needy. Happiness is not on what you receive but on what you can give for the sake of other people in need. People do not only need material things but love and affection as well. Every year we celebrate Christmas just to practice what Christ has thought us: love one another as Christ loves us.

May we continue enjoying the spirit of Christmas as we are approaching another prosperous New Year. God bless and may the Lord be with you always.

Congratulations Dr. Dante Rio!!!

I would like to take this occasion to also congratulate Dr. Dante Rio, a newly ordained as the minister of the Lord. Dante, the Lord loves you so much that He has added another dimension to your compassionate ministry. May you be blessed both as a physician and a pastor. Welcome to the club.

May 10, 2010 marks the first use of automated election in the Philippines although there are perceived flaws of the system and machines used. Nevertheless we are electing a new president who will lead this nation of 100 million Filipinos for six years. It is very important then my brothers and sisters in Christ that we should used our hearts and minds to elect the most credible one among all the presidential candidates. We heard them speak, we heard their vision, mission, and goals of governance it is up to us to process now who will be the one to elect.

I know the people are intelligent enough not to be persuaded to vote for a candidate based on popularity, party, and promises alone. Let us consider their background, experience, and truthfulness to serve the people and the land. Since we can not read the heart of men, let us pray for guidance from our Lord Almighty Saviour Jesus.

You can vote anyone that your heart dictates but consult the Lord too if your choice is the rightful one. Remember, it is not a joke to be under the hand of a mediocre leader nor a tyrant one for another six years. Yes, let us vote for a candidate who can promise for a change and progress but swear to God he will really do it during his term once elected for the position. I hope my dear friends we could elect a president who can guarantee that there will be no corruption for the next six years once he/she is elected. We want a president too that could transform this country into a progressive one and restore the dignity of all the Filipinos wherever they are in the world. Let us vote one with compassion to the poor but not the one engaged in the destruction of our own environment.

Yes my dear friends, May 10, 2010 will be recorded as another historical landmark again in our existence as a free country. Let us put an end to shame and poverty brought about by corruption and plunder of our resources. I hope our new leader will not have a repeat of the actions and inactions of his/her predecessor.

This is the only nation we have, let us love it and bring peace and progress to our land. Crucial here is the need for a new dedicated and honest leader of the land. We need capable men and women to restore justice, opportunity, and hopes for the people. May God bless of us!

Brothers and sisters in Christ in the Philippines and all over the Word let us all pray the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

May the Lord help us hold a free, honest, orderly and peaceful election! Praise the Lord!

Joshua Clottey was named Joshua for nothing. He is a strong contender of the welterweight belt in boxing. He bravely fought a formidable foe in the person of  a seven-division champion Manny Pacquiao  before a crowd of some 50 thousands spectators at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. But unlike the Biblical Joshua he failed to demolished the Wall of Jericho in Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino champion retained his crown to the jubilation of millions of his Filipino and non-Filipino supporters and fans. Celebrities around the world who admired the Pacman’s excellence in boxing congratulated the people’s champ.

Before the fight people around the world already knew who was going to win in that boxing match. They knew Joshua Clottey would be the loser; although some still believed one lucky punch could send Pacquiao down kissing the canvass. But there was none of it. The people’s champ battered Clottey with a barrage of combination punches but failed too to send the contenders down like what the Pacman did to his previous opponents in the ring. Clottey admitted defeat but not in the sense he was overpowered (knock out) by the Pacman;  Clottey said during the after fight interview that the Filipino boxer had no power at all except his speed.

But such a statement is debatable anyway for Clottey did nothing but cover his face and went on giving his body as a target for the Pacman. The boxing champ was so frustrated also that Clottey did not really come to fight but perhaps to many people’s opinion (including mine) to practice. Many believe Clottey climbed the ring to survive not really to demolish the boxing champion. And because he survived, he felt he is a stronger boxer after the defeat. Yes, he can face anybody now believing he has the body of an iron and could fight a much stronger and determined warrior with his incoming fights. To him perhaps this is a victory. Losing has two faces to people who are sensitive enough to go beyond the standard parameters of winning: defeat if you think everything has come to an end; but victory if you think you have found the way.

The Biblical Joshua succeeded in demolishing the wall of Jericho because God was with him. It was his faith and reliance to God’s will that enabled him to enjoin people to do the impossible. For trumpets and shouts of people alone have enabled them to overcome one highly fortified city. But then again is the thought for what is a man without God. For what is human strength and power without God?

When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. (Joshua 6: 20-21)”

“Wherever the ark went, the people attended it. God’s ministers, by the trumpet of the everlasting gospel, which proclaims liberty and victory, must encourage the followers of Christ in their spiritual warfare. As promised deliverances must be expected in God’s way, so they must be expected in his time. At last the people were to shout: they did so, and the walls fell. This was a shout of faith; they believed the walls of Jericho would fall. It was a shout of prayer; they cry to Heaven for help, and help came. (Jos 6:17-27)”

If we look upon God and call him for help to lead us from our miseries, no matter what happens to us, we will always be the winner. Winning may not necessarily getting results, it is getting resolves on how to strengthen of ties with the Lord.

We are all champions so there is no reason to fear. For those who have faith in God, they will always find a way to win. Why don’t you turn your eyes upon Jesus and be a constant winner ?

Though it broke his heart, he had to endure everything just to give a good future for his family. He had four children all studying at that time. Two were in the secondary and two were the Tertiary level pursuing various degrees. With his small salary in the Philippines as a government employee he could not send the other two more in college as one was a graduating senior student at the secondary level. His wife tried to help augment family income by selling homemade cassava cakes and other delicacies. The couple had a small piggery and poultry so as to earn more money to support their children in college. At that time the children had been very conscious about their spending. They would rather walk on the way home from school just to save their fare for other expenses in the future.

But things have changed when Kuya Ramon worked as a company supervisor in one of the Saudi Arabian firms in Dubai. He sent a lot of money for his family that’s why his wife Conchita was able to replace a hundred thousands pesos (P100,000) separation fee which kuya Ramon deposited in the bank for their future. Kuya Ramon’s firm had been earning  so much at that time so he was also benefited with a lot of bonuses. He saved some for himself and the rests of his income went to his family.

His four children who were already in College at that time were living like sons and daughters of the rich and famous. Elsa, the eldest became a campus beauty queen and graduated cum laude in Communication Arts. Soon they hired her as a bank employee having been impressed with her beauty and talent. No happier father than kuya Ramon with the success of her daughter Elsa. But Philip an engineering student dropped out from school because he pursued other career–motorcycle racing. He was on his fifth year of engineering when he became a champion of a regional motorcycle racing and started to compete in the national level. Kuya Ramon got frustrated and told his wife not to give anymore allowance for Philip until such time he will continue with his studies. Philip however was already on his own at that time. He was representing a motorcycle company and had been given fat allowances. He also won a half million pesos prize for becoming a regional champion courtesy of a very rich and influential politician. His success however further broke kuya Ramon’s heart. He wants his son Philip to become an engineer like him too. Philip success went further, he became and product endorser for motorcycles and other energy drinks. He became a productive salesman of motorcycles and soon landed in a supervisory position in marketing. But still he is a college drop-out.

Kuya Ramon’s dream to have an engineer son was placed on the hand of Tanya his intelligent daughter. But Tanya has a heart for the poor so she wanted to become a teacher or a nurse. None of said daughter’s ambition was kuya Ramon interested. “Sinasayang mo ang inyong talino (you are only wasting your intelligence). They forced Tanya to pursue a course in Engineering. Against her will the child complied. But soon she was kicked out from the College of Engineering because she failed to satisfy the average grade requirements to continue. Kuya Ramon was so frustrated that he instructed his wife to discontinue sending Tanya to school. Tanya took the challenge, she applied for scholarship in an NGO and pursue a degree in Social Work. She finished the course as a Magna Cum Laude and later passed the board examination to become a community organizer. A single Canadian community volunteer spotted her and after a year of courtship they got married.

The incident changed the heart of kuya Ramon. He learned his lessons not to interfere with his children’s ambition. All that is left for his is Renato “Ato” who wanted to become a Civil Engineer just like his father. Kuya Ramon was so grateful about it and started to pamper Ato with higher allowances and a car to go to school. Ato was already in  his sophomore and soon take up major courses in Engineering. But Ato having a car and so much weekly allowance his number of friends grew. Soon he missed his classes just to be with his friends in the malls hunting for girls. A once happy father expecting to have an engineer son was all grief himself when he learned his son was kicked out from the college of engineering due to failing grades. Ato was not really that bright to finish a course in engineering. When Ato’s car was sold by his father to an uncle and Ato’s friends started to diminish one by one, he had no option but stay at home and helped his mother attend to their poultry and piggery business.

It is here where he met Laura a lady Christian missionary. It was love at first sight so he pursued Laura. Though Laura has a feeling for him she did not fall just like that. She convinced Ato to take up a Course in Philosophy and Christian Education and became a minister later. His life had changed when he became a born again Christian and he started to find his niche in life being a Christian counselor. He inspired the live of so many young people who had been hooked with drugs and alcoholism and transformed them become good children of the Lord.

The Lord rewarded him with Laura and two beautiful Children. His father, kuya Ramon is now a Christian. He was inspired how the life of his son transformed. It was him to taught him how to love unconditionally.

But kuya Ramon is sill in the Middle East. He has save a lot and there’s no need for him to be there. But kuya Ramon has to return the favor of the so many blessing he received from the Lord. He decided to go back to the Middle East to work in the desert in order to inspire Filipinos enduring the hard life of labor and isolation just to support their families in the Philippines.

Since he has no other children now to support, he decided to give half of his income to support his son’s Christian Ministry for the youth. He is still strong and physically fit at sixty and he has been a blessings to so many lives he transformed while working in the vast deserts of the Middle East.

Oh yes, his son Philip suddenly realized he was the only child in the family who was a college drop-out. He took a leave of absence in his company and finished his engineering course in a year. He has a change of his career path and now he is a lead consultant in an engineering firm.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Happy Valentines to All!

For so many years I had been searching for the best formula on how to live prosperously in a year or for life if that’s what you want. I  tried writing New Years Resolutions only to violate them in a day or two. I know, it’s all human effort. As if I am always in control of my life.

I tried positive thinking as our motivational speakers try to prescribe. I works sometimes but not all the time. So I keep on trying. They said there is no harm in trying. But not at all, the more I failed the more I got hurt deep in my heart. With frustrations mounting each day, I tried to compensate myself with alcohol and smoking. I called them my “hiding place.” I tried betting too on numbers game to make money but I have never been lucky. In fact I have been so ashamed of myself for having more failures in life than success.

God intervened. He showed me the way and I followed. I found a peace of mind. I found a how to live prosperously in material as well as spiritual things. Yes I have my failures too and shortcomings but I have now the truth, the words of God to give me the direction if I am down and lost. I live a prosperous and fulfilled life 24/7 by being with the Lord and surrendering myself to His will. I read the Bible to get His message to me and share it too to those who want to hear. I am not rich but I am not lacking too in finances. I live a simple life and I find fulfilment serving the Lord. I serve other people too in need, I volunteer my services for free for those who have no means to seek for medical assistance. Giving is an act of love, it’s one way of glorifying God. Prosperous people are liberal givers. And prosperous people are people with generous heart. Of course giving yourself to others may not be that easy. You have to give heart first to God. You must surrender your life to Him and transform you into a new being.

“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways.You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psalm 128: 1-2

Who Hates Christmas?

Banong hates Christmas. No matter what you say you cannot convince him that it’s worth celebrating Christmas. He also hates New Year’s celebration. He just can’t stand his dogs barking afraid of the crackling of firecrackers and all the noise of merry-making around the neighborhood. He is not necessarily an unbeliever for he is a practicing Christian. He attends Church regularly and give donations to charity as needed. He does not quarrel with anybody. He simply does not want the commercialization of Christmas where materialism counts more than faith and spirituality.

“Christ does not deserve to be remembered on Christmas day alone,” said Banong. Everyday of the year is a Christmas day. The moment you wake up in the morning you must say your prayer and ponder upon the birth of Christ and the sacrifice He did for Humanity. You must thank the father too for sending His only begotten son so that all those who believes in Him shall not perish but shall see His Kingdom and will live an eternal life. This is what Banong means by having Christmas everyday in your life.

If there is something Banong hates about Christmas is the commercialization in the commemoration of the birth of the Saviour. Businessmen are raking billions of dollars each year by selling everything associated with Christmas from simple toys to those lavish Christmas decorations. Banong cannot simply stand the waste of energy each year for just simply lighting Christmas lights. He cannot stomach the “paganistic” way of celebrating Christmas with Karaokes, drinking alcohol, too much eating, and the noise of merry making devoid of praise and worship to the Lord. It is not God

This year Banong did not receive his bonus as promised by the government. But he did not lament. If ever he will receive it later  he will donate a portion of it for medical and dental mission.

But something happened to Banong on Christmas Eve. After attending Church service (the only way he celebrates Christmas) he immediately went home to rest. He is living alone as his wife and children are all in the States. He expects his family to give him a phone call and to greet him a Merry Christmas. The pastor gave him a bag of groceries including a Keso de Bola. It is not an ordinary one but the most expensive Keso de Bola in the store. A few more blocks to his home he saw a family on a cart eating and sharing what appears to be a plate of rice and small can of sardines. Only those who live in a hand to mouth existence can afford to have this kind of Noche Buena. Something struck his heart. But before he could say anything the family quickly invited him to feast with them.

“Merry Christmas sir, come and join us with our Noche Buena.”

The invitation was sincere. Banong’s heart melted. He used to have Noche Buena with his family. But when they left him for the States and live alone he did not have a Christmas dinner any more. His mind said leave them alone but his heart told him to remain. He joined them. He brought out bread, biscuits and the big Keso de Bola in his bag. The family refused him at first but later they accepted his offer and feasted with his food stuff.

“You know sir each year we have been dreaming to eat a Keso de Bola, only this year that God has answered our prayer,” the father of three children said as he cut the ball of cheese into parts. The children enjoyed it very much. The wife cried as she ate an expensive cookies with a piece of cheese. Banong however only ate their rice and sardines.

While eating Banong learned that the family lost their home during the typhoon Ondoy when it flooded their place. The couple was grateful that they were able to save their children and their cart.

“At least we have a home, a place to stay and spend the Christmas Eve,” the children said.

But Banong did not leave them that night. He invited them to his house and enjoy all the luxury he has. Children took a bath and he gave them the clothes his children have gown up.

“Hulog po kayo ng langit sa amin ngayong Pasko (Sir, you are God sent to us this Christmas),” the couple told him.

Banong only smiled at them but deep in his heart he found relief. God showed him the way how to remember His birth. Banong may have thought all he had been doing as a Christian was enough until he had this experience. God showed him what he still lacks, he is not connected with people. The light in him is his alone. He never shared the light and the love of Christ to others specially the poorest of the poor.

The phone rang. His family in the States was at the other end greeting him a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But this time there is a glow in his heart. Now he knows what Christmas means and how to be a real Christian.

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