Having a Younger Sister

Among my siblings, she's the one I'm closest to.

Among my siblings, she’s the one I’m closest to.

I thank God for giving me the family I have. We sure don’t always meet eye to eye, nevertheless I’m still thankful for them. Having six siblings, I learned how to deal with other people because I learned how to deal with them, because each of them are unique.

But still, in your family there are people whom you share more of yourself than others. For me, one of them is my younger sister, Olivette. In the family, I am closest to her. I don’t know, I just feel more “at home” whenever I’m with her, and she’s the one in my family I really desire to put a smile on (and she smiles often).

Most families have their youngest as the spoiled brat and the little boss. But my sister isn’t one of them. She may be the youngest, the cutest (for me), but she is not certainly a spoiled one. My parents raised her well enough to become a gracious lady she is now. She likes to laugh, but also is frequently serious. She is responsible enough to initiate things that need to be done. And she adores me! Ha ha.

She is brave in her own way, and stands for what she thinks is right. She has gone through the youth-rebel antics once in her life, but she is now more mature and more understanding. And certainly I know she fears God and wants to please Him.

I thank God for giving me a younger sister like her. I would never exchange her for other younger sister.

I wish that you see your younger sibling as I do.

Feeling Fearful and Feeling Joyful

You may not believe, but recently, I felt both fearful and joyful.

Words of people do have force, and if they are hurtful, threatening, and accusing, even if you don’t see them and know personally, they can evoke reactions including fear. I certainly felt that these days.

Most people in social media are quick to comment, and they use comments to psychologically torture, threaten, abuse and mock you. And I’ve experienced that. Now I certainly understand what it means to be bullied. Now I know why some people commit suicide after being bullied at social media. They can make you afraid, even if it’s certain they could do nothing to you physically.

But those who are suicidal, I think, are missing what I have, that makes me feel joyful.

It’s God.

When you know you have Him by your side, and will take care of you, the fears are covered with the joy He brings to your heart. The fears are still there, but the joy God gives you assure you that you are taken care of.

That’s the paradox of having mad people and a caring God around you.

Is It Right to Respect?

Pope Francis has come to my country just yesterday, and Catholic Filipinos are prostrating to show their wonder and awe of the papacy. And indeed practically everyone is exalting this new pope of the Catholic churches. Even those who reject Catholicism (almost all of them) and faith in some way respect the man.

On the other end of the line there are a few people who are not welcoming to “his holiness.” Recently a pastor posted and showed his sentiments on the coming of the Pope in Facebook, and called him a curse to the Philippine islands, and called him a ‘poop’ instead of pope. Of course, this drew the furious ire of the devotees and the rebukes of those who somehow see silence as the best option. These people emphasize the need for “respect” and “tolerance.” They are fuming with anger with this pastor because he is “without manners” and “disrespectful.”

Respect is such a beautiful and noble term to us. It is such a positive trait every time it is used in writing, speech, etc. But does it mean it is always right to respect?

First of all, I believe in God. I believe that the Bible is His Word, and I believe everything it says, however narrow it may seem to the ears of people. And God is “no respecter of persons,” and His words clearly reflect that. Jesus calls legalistic religious leaders and false teachers “hypocrites,” “vipers,” “serpents,” “blind,” and anywhere in the Scripture God calls them “brute beasts,” “clouds without water,” “trees plucked up by the roots,” “filthy dreamers,” “spots,” “children of the devil,” and such like. Truly God is not a respecter of persons, which brings the word “respect” in bad light.

Of course we would be hurt when we are disrespected, and so we feel anger toward those who do not respect someone we respect. But let us think for a minute. Is it really right to respect all the time? These people who fumed at this pastor knew that it is not. Because if they say that is right to respect all the time they would never hurl invectives at the pastor. But they feel a person like the pastor never deserves respect. So they did not respect. But did they ever think of being in his position? Surely he has his own reasons for disrespecting the pope. Somehow in his life he found that the pope does not deserve his respect. So he did not respect.

This is not about hate or religious discrimination, this is about being yourself. I know the Catholics who spoke against the pastor thought that if they did not speak, it would be abomination to them. Silence is just not an option. They are just being Catholics. But couldn’t they in turn see that the pastor may have felt the same way, so much so that silence is also not an option? Because in the same way as the Catholics, he is just being himself.

Now that’s what we should respect.

Great and Unpopular!

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Many people equate greatness with popularity. And to be popular nowadays, you should be doing outrageous things like wearing grandiose outfits like Lady Gaga or get sexually vocal like Miley Cyrus or do something controversial or sensational shows like producing “The New Family” or “Game of Thrones.”

I beg to differ. To be great, no one needs to strive to be popular. For me the greatness that comes as a result of popularity is false. What is real greatness? Let me show you some real life examples:

A mother who does her best raising her children, desiring and praying that they would be good and godly people. Every time I see a mother like that, I see greatness.

A man who works with a heart and with dignity, who gives every bit of his strength to accomplish something, but never does something that would step on people for him to climb up a mountain. When I see a man like that, I see greatness.

A person who sees someone who is in distress, and helps him out with all the resources he has. When I see a person like that, I felt like I’m going to “tear up.” I see greatness.

A man who stands for what he believes, though he might be ostracized by people who don’t like his beliefs. That’s not hate. That’s not judgmental. That’s courage. And because of that, I see greatness.

A person who has hope in the midst of despair. For me, that is greatness.

If I have to choose between greatness and popularity, it’s better to be great. How about you?

Take Up and Read

I thank God that I am able to read, and that He gave me a great desire to read. There are only a few things that I can say have done so much to my life than reading. For me, reading is a huge blessing that everyone must have.
So I feel pity for those who can read but don’t want to. They are wasting a big ability. In many ways, they are no different to those who are “no-read, no-write.” Those who can’t read envy those who can, but it seems that those who can read seem to be like those who can’t. Give an examination to those who can’t read and those who can but don’t, and the results may not be really different.
One of the biggest catalysts of revolution or great noble changes throughout history is reading. The Reformation, Britain’s Golden Age, the Abolition of slavery, the founding of the American Constitution, the independence of the Third World nations–all these revolutions are done by people who can read and did read. Ignorance or lack of reading have never helped in advancing a noble cause.
I think a great way to initiate change is for us to read first. Words have such power that it can change lives. God knew that very well, as He authored a Book, not produced a film nor recorded an album.

Take up and read.

Giving Up Someone

I don’t really like giving up on someone, specially when I see a flicker of hope in a person. Just the past years I was teaching different groups of children, hoping that they would respond to the call of God. There were many times I’ve contemplated to stop teaching, because they were not making any progress. They still wouldn’t go to church. They were still afraid of their parents. They just thought it was not worth it. But when I realized that they still wanted me around, teaching them, I continued. But after several years they still didn’t respond, and they felt like they were getting tired of me, so after many prayers and asking for advice, I gave up. I stopped teaching them, and left them to God’s hands.

But it was painful, really painful. I’ve come to love these people (think about it: I’ve started teaching them when they were at elementary level, and when I stopped they were already in the middle of high school!), and would it not be painful being with them for a long time? But I thought I had to do it. I felt God wanted me to do it.

There was also this friend that I brought to the Lord, and I also gave him up a few days ago. I rebuked someone close to him, and he was the one who took it hard. He started saying a lot of things and doing a lot of things that were not “friendly,” not even ethical. I tried to restore him, but he refused. So with prayers I decided to stop. I gave him up.

Is it bad to give up? At first I thought it is, because we always get this message anywhere that you should not give up. Well it may sound pretty honorable, but the fact is, there are times when it is necessary, and right, to give up.

First, for my benefit. I wouldn’t be able to move on if I don’t. I wouldn’t accomplish new things and meet new people if I don’t give up. I will dwell on things and people which are (really) already past, like, say, the death of someone dear. If I were to live, there are times that I should give up.

Second, for the one who’ve been given up, is to get them back. You may not realize, but the real reason I gave them up is because I want them back. Without me in their presence, they might come to realize how important I am to them, and they will decide to come back to me. Some people take a while, others take a long time, others don’t simply return. But a majority of them will. That’s what’s important to me.

I believe God is the same. While He’s infinitely more persevering than me, He also decides to give up. He gave up on king Saul, He gave up on the unbelieving cities in the person of Jesus, the book of Romans says He gave sinners up to their own lusts. The Lord Jesus commanded to give up an unrepentant member of a church to be able to restore him.

For me, giving up is actually hoping. And hoping is not a negative thing.

The Scarcity of Good Fathers

tay my and meThere are many fathers in this word–in the sense that they have a child. But true fathers–good fathers–are hard to find. You can more easily find a good mother than a good father. That’s why they are really precious in these modern times.

What makes a good father even harder to find is when you consider what is a good father when the Scriptures are taken into account. Most fathers consider themselves good when they are providing for their family needs, a reasonable but nowadays are proven to be superficial fathers instead of good. Children needs the love (spell it T-I-M-E) more than the money or provision the father can give to them. Today what is accepted to be a good father is the one who provides his family’s needs and sets aside time for his children and shows his tender and tough love. A those kinds of fathers are considerably really few, as anyone would admit.

What makes good fathers even fewer is the consideration of the spiritual aspect. There is a sizable number of fathers who provide for their children, fewer who gives time and love to their children, but lesser are the fathers who are good to their children spiritually–fathers who want and act on bringing their children nearer to God. Many fathers don’t even consider it as important–it is not uncommon that in a family, the mother goes to church, the children go to church, and the father does not.

But I realized that the most important aspect of life is the spiritual. So if the father can’t provide the spiritual needs of his children, I would consider a very bad father. Because the spiritual is eternal, all other things are temporal. So it’s really a blessing of God when a child has a spiritual father. No one ever deserved a good father, but God in His grace chooses to bestow some with them. I thank God for making me one of them.

Today my family is celebrating the 58th birthday of my father, and I will forever thank God that He gave me a father like him–a father who is really, truly good.

Bringing Back the “Deepness”

I’m an avid reader. Whether in print, or any other media, I find reading a pleasure. Just from September to December this past year, I have read fourteen titles, beside the Bible, and shared what I learned from each of them on social media.

Nevertheless, I find in myself and others’ writing as well, whether in books, or in just a Facebook post, an alarming trend in the way words are used: the way of stripping the rich meaning of a word and giving it a shallow one. For example, someone using the word “wrath” (which means “a very deep anger”) as a term for just a frustration of not being able to do something.

Even a simple exclamation where you would like to say that you like ice cream, people often replace it with “loving” ice cream, stripping the word “love” of its rich, deep meaning. The latest Newsweek controversial article title is also guilty of doing the same when it said, “A Book So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” “Sin” is used in a very shallow way, not the meaning it was supposed to mean. I call this kind of usage “word abuse.”

Why don’t we stop this abuse and use words in a way that the true meaning is shown? Sometimes we hurt people just because we use a rather deep word when we just want to express a lighter meaning. I know it, because I did so a couple of times.

Let’s bring back the deepness. Let us use words rightly.

Falling Short of Love

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We frequently hear or watch or read about “falling in love,” “falling out of love,” that kind of love, etc. But rarely do we hear something about “falling short of love.” I’ve taught someone about loving God and she said when I was in mid-sentence, “I think I do love God, not as you might think that I don’t.” I told her that if she loved God or not wasn’t the point; it was about loving Him enough. And that’s where many people have a problem with: loving enough.

But this is not only about God, though this also importantly concerns Him too, but, I think many of us are not loving the people we love enough. Just a few days ago I’ve witnessed four friends who misunderstood each other. The problem of the one was judging the other as saying hurtful words to the another friend, when the other was proven that she didn’t, but she was just pretty dominant. The third one’s problem was that she was fearful to voice out her offended feelings to the latter. The other, who was clearly misjudged, was hurt, and for now (understandably) couldn’t forgive the two yet. Only the fourth was good enough to see the whole picture and tried to reconcile them.

Through this, I’ve seen “short love” at play. You see, these four friends obviously loved each other, because they wouldn’t be friends in the first place if they haven’t. Nevertheless, they didn’t love each other enough. By “enough” I mean the love standard set by the Bible. Look up 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:18. The first one had shown “short love” because he thought evil about the third one that she said hurtful words to the second. Love thinks no evil, the Bible says. Love seeks out the facts, and thinks the best about the objects of that love. No misjudgment would happen if the first one just loved enough. The third one manifested “short love” because she was fearful to say anything to the second. Perfect love casts our fear, the Bible says. Love sees and hopes for the best in the object of that love, so it is not afraid to voice out to it. No shortage of communication would happen if the third one just loved enough. The second one is short of love because she couldn’t forgive the two for what they did and thought of her. Forgiveness would be quickly bestowed if the second one, though hurt loved enough.

I am not saying that I am a “loving-enough” person, I’m just pointing out that when these kinds of conflicts come to pass, we should be learning lessons about how we love. We should see that we are still short of loving enough, and therefore, with God’s help, we should learn to love better. In that way, conflicts will be resolved, and in addition, we will learn lessons.

I thank God that He loved us enough. In spite of who I am, of what bad He sees I will do in the future, He still loved me enough that He sees the best in me and judges me righteously, doesn’t fear to tell me things I should be hearing and listening to right now, and forgiving me genuinely when I am wronging Him.

Let’s love enough.

Celebrating the Firstborn

I thank God that I did not become first of my parents’ seven children–I was in the middle, or the fourth among them. It’s because I know that being born first means that something heavy is thrust into your life. Call it responsibility, suffering, expectations–firstborns are the ones among the children who receive the most of everything, especially the hard ones.

Being the firstborn means you have parents that are still in the dark about parenting and being so they make mistakes in raising you–some very big mistakes, that may affect you emotionally, socially, intellectually, and even spiritually, yet as a firstborn you have to bear them.

Being the firstborn means you are the one who feel the pressure from within and from without to be or not to be like your parents. If your parents are bad you would be the first to hear negative comments, judging you that you would be the same as them. Or you feel the pressure not to become like them. Much harder when they are good parents. You feel the expectations that you must be like your parents, that you should be like them, or at least resemble them. So great a pressure.

Being the firstborn you will be the one to become a ‘parent’ in a sense. You sense a duty to take care of your younger brothers or younger sisters, if you do have such. You will also have to experience (if you are responsible) replacing their diapers, watching over them, lulling them to sleep, and many others.

Being the firstborn also comes the pressure of learning things early. Washing the dishes, cooking rice, sweeping the floor and such.

Being the firstborn is really hard. And because of that I salute every firstborn who has succeeded in being such. You have done a great job. I honor you.

Today is my older sister Abigail’s birthday. Speaking of problems, she has experienced rough times recently, and though she is not a rock, I know that she will take it with the strength the LORD has given her. I love you, my sister. I celebrate you. Being a good firstborn is similar to one aspect of Jesus, because He is the greatest firstborn who ever lived.

Ate ko