Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Compassionate Ones' Predicament of the Abusive Ones

It is never right to abuse someone else’s kindness. (Maybe there seems to be no connection between that first sentence and the following sentences, but I hope that you can connect them anyway) To be specific it is never right to utilize someone else’s predicament to your self vested interest. It is purely manipulation when you do just that. If rebuke on this and negative reaction surfaces, it will add to the already wrong deed.

Pastors are often put in a predicament that they must not take sides. I do believe that pastors and even preachers were given a compassionate heart that even they can’t understand at times. I have known someone who used to be temperamental and tough to other members. In other words, he’s a church tough guy. He eventually became a pastor. I was surprised that when one of his members is about hit an unbeliever outside church property, he tried to stop a fight. To add to my surprise, he didn’t confront the unbeliever and his member. Pastor’s heart indeed. Even if the members have done something wrong to the pastor or to the church as a whole, the pastor is put in the position that they must forgive. There are even times that if the pastor has the time to visit almost all (if not all) members, he must take time to visit even the members that, at some point, had intentionally wronged them one way or another. For an outsider (meaning, not being a pastor or preacher), I sometimes see this as a Pastor’s predicament.

Let’s face the reality: there are members (not all. In fact, not even most. A truly growing Christian will not INTENTIONALLY give his/her pastor problems) who take advantage of this so called “Pastor’s predicament” by trying to get even to other people that they hate. Of course, the pastor will visit them (they are members; only excommunicated members are usually not visited intentionally) to be updated on their welfare. Then, usually, they will mention things against someone, sometimes lies against that someone. Of course, a wise pastor will confirm the matter as much as possible if it is true. Then, this pastor will visit the concerned person (if he’s also his member) or the local church (if that person is member of another locale). If the concern is really really true, then it is not in waste. THAT IS NOT AN ISSUE. However, if the member who gave his/her pastor this information is found out to be lies or half truths or manipulation of truth, then he/she INTENTIONALLY gives his/her pastor a pounding on the head, even the intention is to get even to someone with those...well...lies. He/she is intentionally NOT helping his/her pastor. For an outsider’s viewpoint (meaning for a non-preacher’s viewpoint), those type of members must be rebuked by another member BLUNTLY. After all, they’re not helping their pastor INTENTIONALLY. Well, it’s a different story when a member did something wrong (i.e, a member was seen drinking in pubs or seen in questionable places or a member committed fornication/adultery) to his/her testimony. I do believe that members even in their carnal or backsliding state do not INTEND to give their pastor headache.

Please help our own pastor. Don’t intentionally give them the headache by getting even to someone. Of course, pastors will not tell these things to members. Pastors are given a compassionate heart at times even more compassionate than their members. Therefore, if you happen to know a fellow congregant who spreads lies just to get even to a person and to the extent to the point that these lies are told to the pastor, REBUKE SHARPLY that congregant. A repentant drunkard, fornicator, drug dealer, adulterer, idolater is better than a self righteous lying congregant. Yes, maybe it’s cruel to give that congregant a disciplinary heart, but maybe a SHARP REBUKE is not cruelty. If that person wanted to hit you back for rebuking him/her, forgive him/her, but MARK THAT PERSON. That person is set to divide members. He/she is also exhibiting self centeredness and selfishness. Never abuse the Pastor’s kindness and compassionate heart. Not only you’ll break your Pastor’s heart, but you’ll also break God’s heart. Not only that, since he is your Pastor, even if your intention is to get even to the person (besides, did that person really wronged you that much?), God will surely not bless your life.

Please let’s take this as a brotherly reminder. Maybe this is not yet happening in your locale, but at least you are reminded. There are many things to do in God’s vineyard. Soulwinning, discipleship, baptism of newly saved people, choir, visitation, Bible study, Sunday school, youth ministry, etc. thus it is physically and emotionally tiring. Thus, let’s be part of the pastor’s supportive cast.

I hope (like many times that I hoped) that this post is making sense.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank you very much, Lenie

Years ago, I have this friend in the church. Her name is Lenie. She’s an accounting graduate. She’s a single parent. No, she was never married. Maybe you have an idea, but it will be a long story if I will tell you. One thing is sure: she’s intelligent, soft spoken, and nice. We were closed. I consider her my best friend. Most people in the church thought I am courting her, even OLD CHURCH PASTOR. Yes, I like her company, but the concept of another serious relationship was not my idea (a year of being suspended and a “playboy” tag? I was so afraid to have another girlfriend) back then. Her being a single parent is such an issue, even if the people don’t admit that in my face. Actually, back then, having a single parent for a girlfriend is no big deal to me, especially if she has no previous marriage. After all, there are other virtues aside from virginity (contentment, humility, industriousness, etc). Issues were raised, until I was given a “round table conference” (rebuke) by the then-youth leaders. Here’s the catch: they did it a day before my birthday, and the place is in a restaurant where I gave them my birthday treat. Classic torture chamber. My side was heard, but never listened. That’s another story. The last time I saw her was around 2005. The youngsters (especially youth leaders) in those times have mixed opinions on this. Some called me a “girlfriendless playboy” (which is the most unfair because you have no right to be friends with single ladies or that tag). Some understood me that I’m friendly and sweet (no objections please. Whatever the case, it’s understandable. You can’t please everybody, and I know what things I really did.
Then, just last night (September 28), a text from an unknown sender came up, wanting to talk to me. I parked my car in a gasoline station. I was with Amie. I called up. It’s a male voice. He asked if I know someone by the name of Lenie. I said definitely yes, she’s a friend. The male voice happens to be Lenie’s husband, NOW A PASTOR SOMEWHERE IN SUBIC (I wanted to yell at the critics). She is now a Pastor’s wife. Praise be to God, and I will not apologize for this: this is a lesson to all critics out there, whoever you are. If we are really under the dispensation of grace, then apply it: don’t be too technical! There are many things to do in God’s vineyard, and we just waste our time being too technical that a single parent can’t marry a preacher!

I was surprised how thankful she is for me for being a good friend. I don’t expect this, honestly. Years ago, she thanked me for the things that I did for her, most of them I didn’t even recall. She remembers how I paid for her youngest sister’s tuition in college.

I am quite teary eyed, I just didn’t make it obvious to her and to Amie. God used Lenie to encourage me. It’s like, “it’s not in vain, Ian”. Pastor James, when I shared this, said that this is another vindication of who I really am. Humorously, there is no device to pierce these truth straight to my critics’ (be it active or “indifferent”) hard headed shell called skull.

Seriously? I didn’t expect this encouragement, but this, I admit is so sweet and morale boosting. At those times, all I did was care and try to be a friend. I didn’t know that this was the impact to her. God is so good to me, why will i be so bad to others? Honestly, there are times that I am tired of loving other people that don’t love me back. After all, those people who love me are usually affected when I get sad because of this.

May that friend of mine be blessed by God abundantly. People who sees other people in what they can become for God’s glory is worth praying for! People who acknowledges God’s grace by being gracious (friends and brethren, no matter how hard we try to be good and ecclesiastically acceptable, it is STILL God’s grace working in you) to others is a good ambassador of the dispensation of grace.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"love" your job

“Love your job”. Strictly speaking, I can’t accept that. No, don’t get me wrong. Modesty aside, I’m not that lazy. Although I don’t like the “look busy” aura, I am not lazy. I was criticized because I always talk about teaching, youth ministry, than my day job, thus making me indifferent from my day job.

Donald Trump once said that the reason why he does what he does not mainly because of money; it’s the thrill of closing a business deal. Maybe you appreciate the concept of “loving” your job, but I think otherwise.

The best motivation for one to do his job or own business well is his family. They should be the reason why you “love your job”. That’s the reason one should not talk about his job when he gets home. It’s like a brand new car. You’ll take care of it. You’ll wax it once or twice a week. You’ll pay for it. You’ll clean it either by your self or you’ll pay your nearest car wash station (a hands-on clean up is still different). Why? You may say that you love your brand new car, but looking deeper, you do that because of various underlying motivation. In my case, I take of my car because my Mom spent so hard just to give it to me. That car for me is a symbol how my Mom loves, but I don’t love my car.

Teaching and youth ministry is not a mere job, especially the latter. Teaching is a vocation. Thus, more often than not, teachers tend to talk about school at home or bring their work home. That’s the reason the words “I love teaching” is like the sound of a graceful harp to me. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like my day job. Especially right now, my day job is beginning to be more and more mathematical to me. Besides, on a managerial point of view, I’m beginning to compare the leadership system of my day job and my part time teaching. My conclusion is that teaching is still my vocation, even though it’s only part time. It is an avenue of self expression and intellectual improvement (even though we may think our respective school seems like an intellectual dead end, it’s not), but my bread and butter is my day job.

I hope I don’t inter-change that.

Your job should just be a mean to a desired end. When I mean desired end, I just hope that it’s positive, like family and for God’s glory.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sufficient unto the day

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. SUFFICIENT UNTO THE DAY IS THE EVIL THEREOF.” (Matthew 6:34, ALL CAPS mine)

Last Friday and Saturday (September 25 & 26), Metro Manila was hit by the Typhoon Ondoy. It was Signal # 1. However, it’s the continuous downpour of rain that surprised us. It is not a surprise if you will hear the CAMANAVA area to be flooded during these times. However, for the first time in my entire 29 years of my life, I heard the news that Metro Manila is under the state of calamity. Why not? Rizal Province, CAMANAVA area, Marikina City, Taguig City, Pasig City, Makati City, even Quezon City (especially Araneta Avenue and New Manila) was hit by floodwaters big time. Even Marilao, Bulacan was hit (9 families of one of the Old Church’s daughter churches were hit). Now, the past few days, we were concerned, if not worried, because Typhoon Pepeng was approaching. I really prayed hard to God that the storm be vanished. Yes, it’s impossible, but it’s not wrong to pray for impossible things to happen. Most people I hear prayed that the storm’s direction be moved. I prayed for the storm to be gone...in thin air. I, and, I believe, most people be it here in Metro Manila or outside the Metro or even outside the Philippines prayed hard not to hit Metro Manila again. After all, Metro Manila is still recovering. Marikina was hit, even celebrities were not spared. Then, Friday came, I stayed at home for most of the day. The rain begins to pour. Then Saturday came, I stayed at home still, watching the news, or asking my cousin (who stays here in our house) for some updates if ever I happened to be in my room. Then Saturday afternoon, I heard that Pepeng changed direction. It moved to Cagayan, where it was declared Signal # 3. My prayer is answered, but not entirely. Why? I asked, not to question God, but because what is His purpose. Then, that Bible verse at the beginning of this post hit me. God never promised that evil things will just vanish away in our sight. However, the Bible says that you’ll not be given problems that you can’t handle. You’ll not be given so many problems that you’ll be overwhelmed. All the “evil things” will not happen to you in one single day. God will not allow that if you can’t handle it. How about Job, the epitome of strength through trials? Well, we truly don’t know what’s in God’s mind VERBATTIM, but we know Job made it through wth flying colors. I believe God allowed these things to happen to Job because He knows Job can make it. After all, God is Omniscient, He’s beyond time-and-space continuum.

Putting this verse in a parallel application, sometimes, problems that we are facing are just the right problem for us to face. I’ll not specify those problems for I am avoiding unnecessary back stabbing and/or confrontations. All of the bad things will not happen to a person on one single day. Instead, God will give you time to recover. Haven’t you wondered why some days are soooooo good? I don’t know per se what those good days meant to you, but for me, those soooo good days are a sign that i must gather my strength. I remember Elijah, when Queen Jezebel wanted to kill him despite doing the right thing. He requested God to take his life. However, God knows what He needs at that time. He gave Elijah food and water. He gathered his strength, and eventually, God revealed to him that he’s not the only one who is not bowing to the false god Baal.

On another angle, sometimes, we tend to boast that our problem is bigger than those people we know. People around us, when we’re face with problems, try to console and give some advice. Sometimes, we’ll drive them out, verbally or physically or mentally, saying that our problem is either different or bigger than theirs. That is pride and being “negatively boastful”. After all, we’re trying to say to them that our problem is bigger. Sometimes, we also tend not to listen to other people’s problem or we scoff or ridicule other people’s problems and how they handle it because we think it’s lighter than what we have encountered. Actually, it’s pride.

As a reflection, there is no such thing as people having bigger or smaller problems than we have. It’s just called problems, and problems that each individual faces are problems just right for them to handle. Thus, when we have surpassed them, instead ridiculing others for their petty problems, we must thank God for being true to His Word that “SUFFICIENT UNTO THE DAY IS THE EVIL THEREOF.” He’ll not allow to experience ALL the evil things at the same time.