Friday, June 27, 2008

Time not wasted

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” ---Ephesians 5:16
As a person gets older, the more responsibility that person accumulates. I’m living at a young age of 27. I have more responsibilities now than 7 years ago. Back then, I’m a graduating college student. I don’t have a car then. Now, I have a job and a decent salary. Because I’m now a professional, I’m expected to be responsible. One of the things that a responsible person must NOT do is WASTE TIME.

When we hear the words, “wasting time”, often times, we think of unemployed people just sitting down, drinking, and not making any effort to find a job (even if the job is low paying, at least one finds a way to work). Yes, it is true, when one is not working when he’s of the age to do so, he’s wasting his time. I’m not perfect, but one thing I don’t like is gossiping. In the Bible, they’re called “busybodies”. Busybodies are often associated with gossiping alone. However, a busybody is a person who is a gossiper AND a lazy person. Besides, if you’re working really hard, you don’t have for gossips. Gossiping is a waste of time. If you’re gossiping during working hours, especially if you’re working in a government office/company/agency, you’re wasting your time. No, I don’t want to follow the “hit the government” bandwagon of most blogs. It’s because government people are paid by taxpayers’ money. Thus, if a government employee is wasting time (through gossiping, fault finding, making things personal, criticism, etc), he is not only wasting his time, but also the taxpayer’s money. After all, one will not be enriched spiritually, physically and INTELLECTUALLY, by gossips (okay, I know what you’re thinking; no “philosophical response” there…hehehe). Indeed, one should find a work (if he’s unemployed) and work in the workplace (if he’s employed). By doing so, his time is not wasted.
Time is not wasted if you’re doing your best in the time God has given to you. Most of the times, if you’re a church guy/gal, you tend to ritualize the church services. Here we are. Fix ourselves up. We’ll go in the church. Sit down. Stand up. Sang some hymns. Join the public prayer. Sit down again. Listen to the singers/choir/instruments. Shake the fellow congregants’ hands. Sit down again. Listen to the Pastor’s/Preacher’s/Guest speaker’s sermon. Give our tithes and offerings. Stand up to pray for dismissal. Just like a mouse going out of his hole, you go out of the church building. Now, haven’t we asked if we did our best at that worship day? If you’re assigned as the pianist, did you do your best playing the piano? Or, because you memorize the hymnals from cover to cover, you didn’t practice for at least a few minutes, thus, not doing your best? If you’re singing as a soloist or any special number, is it really special? No, I’m not playing perfectionist. Yes, I want a special number that was sung well. However, it’s not the issue of talent if you’re doing your best or not. It’s all about the effort. Yes, the congregants will be mesmerized by your awesome baritone or your lyric soprano or your powerful, music-educated tenor. Even I will clap my hands and shout a loud “AMEN” if I hear you singing a Gospel song. Still, at the end of the day, God knows if you really did your best (by practicing before the service) or not (if you didn’t take time to practice). If you didn’t do your best, you’re just wasting your time. If you’re a choir member and you’re not doing your best and, because of status symbol (“I HAVE a ministry; I’M VISIBLE in the church through choir”) you just want to have a shorter practice, you’re just wasting your time. (Now, maybe some of you will think, “since I’m not doing best and wasting my time, I’ll no longer join the choir.” That’s not only arrogant, it’s also DOWNRIGHT FOOLISH!). If you’re a song leader, lead the congregational singing as if it’s your last. I don’t like it when someone assigned to sing in the congregation, but because he doesn’t want to open his mouth wide (as singers usually do) because he feels it will make him look ugly. I know a young gal who was assigned to be a wedding singer, but because her poise will be affected, she doesn’t want to hit the note even if she can. She opted for a lower version. (That’s “pa-cute”. A singer who smiles is not automatically “pa-cute”. A singer who can reach the note, and yet opted not to reach it because his/her poise will be affected, is the real “pa-cute”). If you’re assigned, do your best to sing. You’re a singer for the Lord, not a celebrity. If the pastor assigned you to preach in the congregation, study hard, pray hard, and deliver it as if it’s your last day on earth. Now, I know there are pastors who assigned preachers on-the-spot. What about if your pastor is like that? How can you prepare, give your best, if your pastor assign preachers on-the-spot (I experience to be assigned as a speaker during Prayer Meeting. The time between Prayer Meeting and when Pastor assigned me? About 2 hours. Where am I at that time? At school. The distance between school and church is 12 kilometers and it’s Espana, a traffic riddled place. I can’t forget that one)? It’s still not an excuse to be mediocre. Pray to God to always give you spiritual strength daily. Read your Bible. Read any materials that are of help (books, magazines, newspaper) for you as a speaker. If your pastor assigned again 1 hour before the service, God will surely work and, since you always read your Bible and have read other materials, you’re ready to give your best. When you give your best in the time AND opportunity God has given you, then your time is not wasted.
Your time is not wasted if you fear God. Now, how can we connect fearing God with godly fear and time management? I’ll try to explain the connection: I have heard many times that a person is a good time manager if he orders things according to priorities. If a task is a Top 1 priority, a good time manager will focus on that priority, and set aside the ones that can wait (there are other boss who give one person multiple tasks with only one deadline, but that’s another story). Now, applying it spiritually, the MAIN DUTY of a believer is to fear God and keep His commandments. If you fear God, you’ll do what He wants, and you’ll not do what He doesn’t want. God hates sin, so, you’ll not waste your time doing sins. Because you fear God, you’ll avoid things sins because sin eats your precious time (that precious time can be used in other more meaningful things). Sin is a waste of time. If you go to places believers are not expected to go (like drinking pubs), is your time wasted or not? For example, in a drinking session, there are times that you’ll start from SUNDOWN to SUNRISE, depending on how much money and alcohol tolerance. Let’s just say you began drinking at around 8PM. It’s unusual if group drinking session is only 2 hours. It usually lasts until midnight, sometimes sunrise. If that happens, you wasted the time that you can use in other things, like being with your wife and kids (for married people), sleeping to gather strength for next day’s work/school. Not only time, you also wasted your money. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco-based products have one of the highest tax rates (sin tax), and yet they’re still earning big. It is because consumers spend a lot for this. Yes, as believers we have our lapses, but as long as we live in this world, God will allow you to bounce back again. Indeed, time is not wasted if you fear God.
Yes, when I read that verse and thoughts that came to me after reading that verse, it also hit me. I’m guilty of time wasting. Yes, one way or another, all of us are guilty today. You may have done your best as an employee, and yet you sacrificed church services. You maybe an active congregant that doesn’t miss a church service, but you’re a busybody talking about other believer’s life as if you’re acting like an opinionated person. You may be an active church goer and participant and yet, because of self pity and deep seated hatred that you’re consumed, you’re not taking time to do your best to improve yourself as a Christian and as a person. C’mon, ALL believers are guilty, maybe not directly, but in similar manners.

Let’s not waste our time. If you’re an employee, do your job well. If you’re unemployed, make an effort to find a job, even a short term job if there’s nothing available for now (I know a believer who did just that. He’s not only blessed with a good job, but God gave him a partner, the prettiest in that local church). If you’re inside the church, stop the gossip. Instead, take time to smile, and make other believers happy. Share some wholesome jokes. Use your time to encourage another believer or pray for them.
I have many things to say, but I’ll stop there. After all, I have driven one principle today: let’s not waste our time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New friends...and new learning experience

I met new friends via Actually, it’s my first time to see members of bp (bobongpinoy). Actually, bobongpinoy is a group of people who have one common interest: they own and admire Bob Ong books (hence, the word “bobong” [an adjective form of a Filipino word “bobo” which means “dumb”]). Indeed, it’s another young crowd, with me being one of the oldest in the group. Let’s drift away for a while before I go to the main topic. There are people who want to go with younger crowd because they want to be the boss. This type of people goes for people younger than they are in order to be the boss in that group. Although there are people who will tag along with someone inferior or more timid or more silent than they are in order to be the boss regardless of age, but that’s another story. There are people who make friends with younger group in order to be the big brother or the big sister or the mother or the father figure in the group. This is more nice than the first one (the first one is bossy and is prone to be manipulative). They are usually the more generous ones because of their “kuya”, “ate”, “nanay/tatang” persona. Still, they tend to be bossy. There are people who make friends with younger group just because they’re friendly regardless of age, genre, culture, education, color, and etc. I belong to the second and the last category. Now, let’s go back to main topic of today’s post.

Together with newly found friends, we went to UST hospital to visit someone. We went to a ward. I only know her as “Nanay Anabel”. The BP occasionally visits her; it’s my first. Being euphemistic is not my cup of tea, so I have to say as it is: it’s my first time to see medical a case like that for real. I have seen cases like that in TV. According to my newly found friends, she had a tumor in her nasal area removed. Because of this, she was disfigured. She has no eyes, nose, and upper light. Because of this condition, nurses/doctors/interns that is on-duty at that time usually gives her cream in order to avoid infections because her facial area, eyes, nose, and upper lip were removed, is now more open to external AND internal infections. If you’re not used to that graphic, you’ll shun her. At first, I was dumbfounded. I just saw this in TV. I saw it for real. What adds insult to the injury is that the husband and relatives, if what I heard is right, are not visiting her. He used to visit her. He’s given money so that he could visit her (he’s living in a province farther than Nueva Ecija). Sad as it may seem, her husband usually gambles the money. The whole story was not mentioned to me, but at least I have an idea. I don’t want to play perfect, but as husband, she has an obligation to visit her wife. Still though, I don’t know the situation why things happened that way.

This is a common learning experience. Why common? We always hear statements of learning experience in cases similar as what I have seen. Let’s just this as a reminder for us: we are blessed. It reminds me of how a person is complaining because she has no new shoes…until she saw someone who has no feet. I’m not against doing something to your face to make you look good, even to the point of surgery. However, the Bible stated that in whatever situations we are, we must be contented. Again, this reminds me of how we tend to be ungrateful to God in what He has given. We don’t have a missing limb. Our face is complete. In fact, we may be the prettiest/most handsome in church, campus, work place, and organization. Still, why hatred to other people? What is the connection of hatred to others with being ungrateful to God? I can justify the connection. If we don’t count our blessings and thank God for it, we are being ungrateful, right? There are times that, because of hatred to other people especially to a fellow believer in Christ, you are distracted from seeing the blessings God has given. In other words, we tend to be ungrateful to God because of our hatred.

We should appreciate our face, even if other people call us ugly. There are people whose faces are disfigured since birth. There are people whose faces were removed because of tumor, thus, they have no face. It’s not wrong to fix yourself to look good. Cleanliness is next to Godliness (that includes doing something to your face to make you look good and feel good). However, if you’re not contented with your face to the point of not being satisfied despite the remedies, it is wrong.

Let’s be grateful with what God gave and is giving to us, regardless of how insignificant we think it is. Don’t wait for the time that you’ll only appreciate God-given things when they are gone. The time is now. Thank God for all the blessings that you have received. Aspire for better things, but BE CONTENTED with the things that you have FOR NOW.

Take time to thank God for all the good things and even bad things that you have received. Let’s set aside the people that you think hurt us. Let’s set aside (if not surrender) the things we aspire that we can’t have for now or will never have.

Serious, isn’t it? You may laugh at this post, but it is okay. In case you really laugh at this post, I’ll thank God because I made someone laugh despite of my seriousness.

Monday, June 23, 2008

a post about...well, blog

I’ll begin this post by giving the links to the following posts:

I don’t know what to say perfectly. After all, every post that was put in all blog entries is either subject to criticism, praises, admiration, opposition, and even indifference (I admit that indifference is the least thing that I like to experience, but that’s the reality).
First, let me tell you why I made blogging a hobby. It was year 2006. For those who are following my posts (bloody posts…hehehe)(I don’t know if someone really is a fan of my blog, especially the old church), it was in that year that I experience one of my lowest spiritual points of my life. It’s also the lowest times in my life. No fellow Baptist brother/sister to talk to. No one at the time TRULY understands the situation (except for a very few Old Church people who really made an effort to talk to me, NOT those who I myself made an effort so that WE can talk). Aside from Bible reading and drawing comic strips, I have found an ally in blogging.
I admit, I blog in order to be seen and to be heard, especially by the Old Church. I’ll not be hypocrite or make an "antihero effect" ala John Constantine of Hellblazer. I want to be heard this time around. How many times are my opinions not heard because someone will be offended or simply because I’m a male human being? In fact, there’s one church discipline that I experienced in the Old Church (year 2000) in which I was tagged "mang-iiwan ng babae" (by my very own Youth Director who is now a Pastor), NOT KNOWING THAT BOTH OF US AGREED TO THIS BREAKUP. IN FACT, SHE EVEN GREETS ME FIRST IN THE CHURCH.
I know what are usually said when you were given that kind of discipline: no one is allowed to talk to him/her (I heard first hand two times that usual line every time that kind of discipline was given (weird as it is, the Old Church Pastor said that it depends on their conviction. However, if you’re an ordinary church member, what will you usually follow: that kind of public announcement from your Pastor or your personal conviction?). So, I made an avenue in which they’ll know what my side of the story is. No, it’s not poison or dividing the crowd. What I’m trying say is this: they can be angry AFTER they heard my side of the story.
At that time, I have a Friendster blog. I admit: at that time, I put it on Friendster so that the Old Church youngsters will see my side of the story. Why? So that they’ll see my side of the story, which was NEVER heard. Still though, I felt that my blogs WERE NEVER READ BY ALL CHURCH YOUNGSTERS, ESPECIALLY THE YOUTH LEADERS AT THAT TIME. I understand. There are many possible reasons why:
They don’t believe me (I can’t control their opinions and it’s their right to have their own opinions)
They are indifferent toward me
They don’t have time to read blogs
They don’t know that I have a friendster account, even having a blog.
So, I erased all my blog posts except one: the reason why I’m not yet back in the Old Church. It’s okay. At least they will NEVER be right when they say, "you never stated your side in the church".
I went to Blogspot. Thus, this blog is born. Eventually, I have seen blogs that has opinions also on national issues, politics, religion, conventions, etc. It’s like your own editorial and opinion section. Thus, I state opinions occasionally on issues.
Summing up, this lengthy post, blog for me is therapeutic. It became my ally at the time that no one (except God and very few Old Church people) is interested on MY SIDE of the story. Blog, just like art, is a form of expression to me. By the way, I consider my blog as a journal; it’s a diary of my life. Yes, on occasion, I put facts here (like Triskaidekaphobia for example), but in general, this blog site is an OPINION ONLY site. Take it or leave it. In my own right, I am a responsible blogger. Well, it depends on how you define "being a responsible blogger". I’m not well versed in journalism laws. For me, I consider a responsible blogger when he accepts what is thrown at him AFTER he posted his blog posts. In addition, a responsible blogger, just like a journalist, will confirm first if that news is true or not (or if you still want to say it in your blog, you’ll write words like, "in my opinion", "there are unconfirmed news", and other terms similar to that). One friend who accidentally saw this blog site gave her comments. I accepted that. Why? It’s being not only a responsible blogger, but also being a responsible person to accept corrective opinions. When a youth member that my blog posts are "bitter", I accepted her statements. Why? It’s not only being responsible, but someone’s comments can also be considered an appreciation. I do admit that this site is not an epitome of good grammar, stereotypical intelligent opinion, good press, blah blah blah.
Now, when I have heard that a UP Professor said that journalist should make an example for other bloggers (because there are irresponsible bloggers) by being a blogger themselves, I had mixed opinions. First, journalism and blogging are different entities. Blogging can’t replace journalism. Yes, journalists can be bloggers, but bloggers are not automatically journalists. In fact, there are blog sites that you can admire because of their credibility and their being comprehensive. There are blog sites that even newspaper journalists can admire (and even imitate). On the other side of the coin, there are really irresponsible bloggers. They don’t check their sources. Not only that, they hit other people as if, well, maybe you know what I am trying to say. This is common in posts that talk about showbiz and political figures (i.e, who are gays/lesbians/bisexuals in showbiz?). Adding to the irresponsibility, they will not mention their real names (they will use "far out" nick names). Not only that, they can just get away with those stuff (I mean not being sued or just avoiding to hear comments). Irresponsible indeed.
Still though, how will you practice critical thinking if you just accept everything? Besides, it is a NO-BRAINER that not all in the Internet IS TRUE. Yes, bloggers have responsibility, and SO DOES THE READERS. As readers, we are responsible to our own selves. How many times have I heard that our own actions are SOLELY OUR responsibilities and we should not blame others for own mistakes? Can’t be counted by all our own fingers and own toes. Then, let’s not solely blame bloggers. Remember, we often do something to a stupid person because of their stupid actions triggered by a clever person, even if we apprehended that clever person. Putting it bluntly, if a person reading a blog that contains lies believe in those lies, and eventually made a negative action because of those lies, it will be the fault of BOTH the BLOGGER AND the READER.
Yes, I have seen first hand two of my youth members almost had a cat fight because one posted a blog against the other. Good thing our Pastor said that it’s both their fault. My friends, it is true: both readers and bloggers have their own set of responsibilities. Bloggers should make their blog post credible enough. If the blogger (like me) wants to say his or her opinion, he or she must always warn their readers that it’s just an opinion. If you know something, and not yet proven true, warn your readers that it’s unconfirmed (or similar terms like that).
As readers of blogs, let’s use our head. There are times that we are critical of a person that we personally know, and yet not critical to blogs that were written by person that we have neither seen nor heard personally. Why not put that so-called critical thinking to blogs that you think is wrongly made? If you’re a nice person, then just ignore blogs that you think is not true. I know this statement hurts because I myself have been like these in random points of my life: let’s not be stupid and gullible. Let’s not react negatively on negative posts. It’s being stupid and irrational. If someone you know hate you and gave a post that you think is not true, IGNORE THE BLOG. There’s one case in our church that the youth ministry was suspended because one triggered it: the blog post. One posted a negative post, the other read it, and reacted negatively. BOTH of them are at fault.
Gamaliel, during the times of the Apostles, said that if it is not of God, it will come to naught. His statement can also be put this way: if the blog posts are not true, it will just die down.
Bloggers and blog readers, let’s be responsible in our own rights.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ladies, i understand you, but please, be nice

I am not a woman hater. I am not a misogynist. My brother and I were raised by a strong willed Mother. I still recall that my paternal grandmother is the one who usually takes care of me while both of my parents are not around. If my paternal grandma is not around, my paternal aunts were there.

Although I admit, just like Richard Gomez, I tend to shout, confront women. I am a nice person, but I’m not the epitome of being a gentleman. I admit that partially it’s the choleric side of me (I’m a sanguine-choleric ACCORDING TO A TEMPERAMENT TEST). Okay, let me explain.

It was 1998 when I had a 2nd girlfriend (my first one’s 1996; it only lasted a month.). She’s not the prettiest in the Old Church, but she’s one of the nicest girls out there. She’s a good listener and a decent talker. Someone who can withstand my loud mouth, my love for cartoons, and etc. However, I was 18 back then; she’s 20. Usually, in a Baptist setting, it’s not encouraged that a college guy has a girlfriend. In fact, in other Baptist churches I know, you’ll be suspended (if you’re a leader or someone that has ministry) just by having a girlfriend while you’re still a student, but it’s their conviction (and they have their reasons why). Well, to make the long story short, after two years, I decided to break off the relationship. Both of us cried. I was young back then. Still, we didn’t have bitterness towards each other. In fact, she invited me in her wedding. She still greets me. She still calls my Mom, “Mommy”. However, the Old Church people, specifically in the Youth section, saw this in another perspective. Despite of our breakup being consensual in nature, my former youth director (of course with Old Church Pastor approval), currently a Pastor, suspended me for one year (note: years later, he suspended a youth leader/Sunday school teacher for breaking up because he has another girl. How long? 1-2 months.). My ex-girlfriend is not that bitter to me, and so do I. Still, I was suspended. To add insult to the injury, my youth director is humorously telling me in front of the leaders, including the FEMALE leaders, “don’t laugh, you left your girlfriend.” I took it as a joke.

Years later, I dated and became close with an intelligent lady. She’s a single parent. However, because of the trauma of one year suspension, I was afraid to enter in a relationship. In addition, the Old Church people don’t like the idea of me having a relationship (hard to please) with a single parent. This time, I did hurt her feeling; I never admitted to her that I love her. I always denied it. Because of this, I was given a “round table conference” treatment a day before my birthday. All of them rebuked me, one way or the other. Things were never the same after that. Because the girl was hurt, she began to say things against me…TO THE COLLEGE LADIES. Indeed, things were never the same. The reason for her hatred? Not only that I never admitted that I loved her, but because of my 3rd girlfriend. Yes, the reason for my excommunication. To tell you with all honesty, I find her pretty (that girl), but I don’t have any plans of courting her. None. Whatsoever. Yet, she is saying that I’m doing so.

Okay, fast forward, I was excommunicated for the situations I have told many times in this blogsite. I don’t have that charm to girls, that’s why at first, I’m quite a snub to them. Not to mention some girls just putting me as the last option when they can’t have their way to my Kuya and good looking cousin. I know I was not the best looking guy around. My Kuya and cousin is even better looking than I am. I know that for a fact; that’s why I don’t like girls flattering. It discomforts me. Although I have learned to accept compliments, whether flattery or real, because the Bible says in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.

Many times, I have heard that women should be treated with respect. I even read the Bible, and it says that women should be treated as a weaker vessel, meaning, handle them with care. I also heard many times that women have mood swings. I heard my maternal aunt (yes, aunt. A woman. So, this is not a sexist post) said to me that most of the times, women have this feeling that they don’t want to feel. The result? Mood swings. Not to mention their monthly period. That’s why in the Bible, Paul said that women should silent INSIDE the church (meaning in church affairs and administration). Paul added that if they want to ask, they should ask it at home. Why? Because God knows women’s tendencies. Yes, women are more creative thinkers than men. Yes, women are more colorful when they think than men. However, church matters and leadership is black and white. Period. Because the Bible said that women should be treated as a weaker vessel, I tried to treat them like that. Because I was raised by my Mom, Paternal Grandma, paternal and maternal aunts, I understand the tendencies.

Then, with these tendencies woman have, I have questions, rhetorical questions I say:

1) If women tend to be moody, then why look to men so badly when they are arguing, especially INSIDE THE CHURCH? ESPECIALLY INSIDE THE CHURCH, when a girl confided to a girl about their arguments with her bf, automatically, girl A allies with girl B. Instant girl power!
2) I always hear women admit their mood swings and they themselves can’t understand it. Then why look to men as a culprit of their mood swings?
3) Inside the church, men receive “all the beating”, especially excommunication. I know girls who slipped away from public disciplines even if they are the culprit. Are we blind or we just use “culture” as a form of “palusot”? (what I’m trying to say is that if you’ll give the guy the discipline, give the girl also the same discipline. After all, it takes two to tango. Especially fornication, they both made it).
4) It always takes two to tango. If one controlled himself/herself at that time when his/her partner started it, no argument will take place. Then, why blame ONLY the guy if there are heated arguments?
5) Misunderstandings and arguments are normal in relationships. Then, why think of men in bad light every time arguments do happen? (I am talking INSIDE THE CHURCH)
6) Why are there women who don’t use their head? I mean when a girl cries, they sided with the girl, not knowing what really happen (it happened to me). When they do know what really happen, why not have the guts to ask the guys what really happened?

I know I know. The usual answer is this: WOMEN. “That’s who we are”. I know another usual answer: “We’re not like that”. Hey, lady, you TEND TO BE LIKE THAT. Except if the guy really is a jerk, that’s exactly my point: if women have these tendencies, why put men into bad light? Why not understand that in relationships, arguments and misunderstandings do happen even if your guy’s the nicest one? Besides, I have heard and seen so many shows, articles, films, chit-chats, telling how wicked, stupid, jerk men are.

GIVE ME A BREAK! Don’t you know that there are times that women are hurt with men because they made a wrong choice in the first place? There are women who don’t like a very nice guy. Then, they’ll ask why men are like that? Besides, not all women are “goddesses”. Care for an example? Never mind. There are girls I know that are flirty and mean. I know girls who use sex in order to take control of guys. PIKOT! Then, if they can’t have the guy, they will cry, and go to the “Filipino culture”. The result? The girl’s parents will go ballistic. Poor parents if they happen to have a manipulative daughter.

Still, despite these opinions, if you see me in person, I’ll be nice to you, regardless of gender, color, status, etc. Church ladies, try to be nicer to your men (if your boyfriend is inside the church, and especially if he’s a leader). The mere burden that men inside the church face, the heavy discipline, and the responsibility, is enough burden for them.

Ladies, I’m saying this as a fellow brethren, not a foe.

Friday, June 13, 2008

triskaidekaphobia and paraskavedekatriaphobia

To all triskaidekaphobic and paraskavedekatriaphobic out there…maybe you’re quite afraid today.

Triskaidekaphobia is an irrational fear of number 13 and paraskavedekatriaphobia is an irrational fear of Friday the 13th. In the Philippines, Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. In buildings, you’ll not see a floor written as 13th floor; they usually skip it.

Judas Iscariot was said to have been the 13th person during the Last Supper (if you’ll include Jesus Christ). Based on what I have read, fear of number 13 existed even before during the time of Jesus Christ. The Code of Hummarabi omitted number 13 (note: it’s not only 13 that were omitted in that code; numbers 66-99 are omitted. It shows that any number can be associated with something negative. It’s all in the perspective).

According to numerology, 12 is the number of completion, like 12 Disciples, 12 months in a year, 12 tribes of Israel. Adding 1 to 12, which is 13, destroys that completeness. There are other reasons for fear of 13 and Friday the 13th. Statistically speaking, there is a significant increase in traffic accidents, according to British Medical Journal.

Okay, I won’t play Brainiac or Mr. Bookworm or “pa-deep” here. I’m no Mensa or Prometheus. Maybe some don’t know, don’t care, and even don’t like that style.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no debunker or skeptic of these, well, fears of number 13 and Friday the 13th. Figures don’t lie. British Medical Journal had stated that there is a significant increase of traffic.

What I am saying is that I believe there’s an outside force that makes this irrational fear of numbers, and a specific day combine with a specific number. It is none other Satan. Satan is the author of all phobias, meaning all irrational fears. Why? He himself is afraid of his future; he’ll be cast in the lake of fire. Satan makes things happen during Friday the 13th so that people will be afraid of that day and number. Satan wanted people to be enslaved with a wrong kind of fear. Why did I say wrong kind of fear? There is a right kind of fear. Fear of God, by avoiding sin and obeying his commandments, is the right kind of fear. Ecclesiastes 12:13 said that fearing God is one of the whole duty of man. Revelations 21:8 is very clear that being fearful will lead someone not be saved by God from the Lake of Fire.

In other words, I believe that it’s not Friday the 13th that makes things happen; it is Satan THROUGH (I used this preposition because that’s how clever Satan is – he will make things happen that at the end, the blame will not be his. Still, God will put him in the Lake of Fire. Loser) the manipulation of people, place, and events that made Friday the 13th a subject of irrational fear.

For all Bible believing Christians, Apostle Paul had given us this verse: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7). Apostle Paul said these Holy Spirit-inspired words to Timothy, a young Pastor, but this is also applicable to all believers who are experiencing irrational fears.

God will take care of us even during Friday the 13th or when we see a number 13. If bad things still happen despite of our carefulness, both in traveling and in our testimony, Romans 8:28 said, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

So, go out. Enjoy this Friday the 13th, provided that what you enjoy is something good, not bad.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Real freedom...and real problems that a brethren should focus

Happy Independence Day!!! Mabuhay ang Araw ng Kalayaan!!!

I took advantage of this occasion to make a post. Being busy AND writer’s block are the reasons why I’m not posting recently. Not to mention my graduate school paper that was further delayed by the department chairman’s sudden hospital confinement.

Now, speaking of Independence Day, the cliché is this: are we really free?

Well, as for me, a person will only be truly considered free if he is saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. As human beings, we can’t save ourselves. The only way to be saved is that one must admit that he is a sinner and confess your sins before God (Romans 3:10, 23; I John 1:9). You should do this in prayer (Romans 10:13). Believe that Jesus Christ will save and accept Him as Lord and Savior (John 1:12 and John 3:16). That is what I consider true freedom.

Then, why the heck am I still greeting “mabuhay ang araw ng kalayaan”? Simple, I’m giving to Caesar what is due to Caesar. As a Filipino citizen, greeting is the least that I could do. I admit: I didn’t buy a Philippine Flag (my bad).

All the prices are going up and our country is facing crisis. An economist said that the worst is yet to come. This oil crisis is international in scope. I have watched CNN, and they are lamenting the same: oil crisis.

With all these problems, I can’t help, but abhor indifference, discord, gossiping, strife, divisiveness, hatred between brethren, hatred to a specific church leader, etc. inside the church. Why? Our country is facing problems right now. I have known a youngster who boycotted both Sunday school and Youth gathering (I’m the usual speaker/teacher of these two). She has her reasons. It’s the same girl that I’ve called Ms. Y. Don’t get me wrong. Ms. Y is still welcome. In fact, all youngsters are welcome. I condemned no one (partially because I have experienced how to be condemned by some folks who misunderstood the word “church discipline”, and basically because God condemns sin, not the sinners). I just shake my head every time I remember the hatred she has. I admit that there came a time in my life that I experience to be bitter. However, every time God made me remember His goodness, His grace, His love, and His blessings to me, I said to myself, “I have no reason to fill myself with hatred; no, not even substitute hatred with indifference and apathy”.

I have said this many times: there are many things to do in the church. Besides, I have seen people facing problems worst than she is, and yet they have overcome hatred. (My prayer is that she overcomes her hatred, indifference, and apathy to the church, especially to the Youth ministry AND LEADERSHIP.)

My fellow brethren in Christ, especially in the Baptist faith, let’s love each other. There are so many problems our respective local churches need to face. Souls that need to be saved, youngsters that need to be taught, Bible that needs to be read, church buildings that need fixing/repairing/paying (if rented or paid by installment). Not to mention the brethren who needs encouragement rather than indifference, leaders who need a tap on the shoulder or a smiling approval instead of the usual boycotting and criticism. There are pastors who need our support in prayer, in time, in talent, even in money. Look at your local churches. What does it lack? Do they need a choir director? Do they youth leaders? Sunday school teachers? Stay-in workers? Take a look around in your own local church what it needs, and I’ll tell you this: there is work to do and hatred, apathy, and indifference is the least of our concerns. The oil crisis and the crisis in this country are in God’s hands, and for now, we can’t do something about it. What we can do for the mean time is surround ourselves with love for the fellow brethren in Christ. By doing so, at least we can still smile without pretensions and ease ourselves in our present REAL problems right now.