Monthly Archives: March 2011

Greatest

But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19

I graduated college and got an electrical engineering degree. After studying, I went to work for a catholic movement aiming for college students to have personal relationship with Christ. I never thought I would get back to my profession. After four years of mission work, I applied as an electrical engineering instructor and was accepted.

One of the first subjects, I was assigned to teach was Electrical Engineering Ethics and Contracts, which is offered to graduating students. As I read the course outline, I had hesitation since it may require practical knowledge of electrical engineering practice so the lessons will not be rather theoretical. I had no electrical work experience at that time, all I knew was to organize prayer meetings and retreats. I decided to speak with the Dean of the college regarding my incapability to teach the course for I don’t have the proper practical background. I can read through the books, but I did not want the students to learn from the books, they can do that in the library, they supposedly catch what can or may happen in electrical engineering practice at their graduating level. So, I gave up the teaching load.

Can we say the same thing with our Christian life? Give up teaching since we don’t live up?

Some people obey but not teach. They want to be sure to obey before they can teach or have no courage to speak out what they are obeying.  Some people teach but have hard time to obey. They tend to over weigh saying than doing or they struggle as imperfect people of a perfect God. Both type of people contribute to the mission of God in one way or another.

However, Jesus defines greatness with both — obeying and teaching. He tells us greatness is this, “whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven…” Do it and say it. Be a follower and a leader. Walk and talk. Live like a disciple and you can disciple.

There is greater conviction to obey when you teach. There is greater passion when you teach as you obey. Maybe, that’s why Jesus tells a person who does both, obey and teach, is the greatest.

By his grace, let us live to be the greatest!

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Big Brother

He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. Luke 15:28

He must have understood of all people.

After all, he is the big brother. He is the older one. He must have matured throughout the years, since he did not ask for his inheritance just like the younger son. He must have more understanding on how the father felt when his sibling packed his bags and went afar. The father’s loneliness must not have been a secret from him. He might have saw his gloomy eyes at the dinner table. He might have asked his father to take more food as the father seems to have hard time since the departure of his little brother.

His brother was gone for some time. Did he not miss his brother? He might have heard the news about the sad plight of his brother. Did he do something to help him out? Now his brother sits at their home. Did he want to sit with him again? Now his brother needs assurance more than anything else. Did he give it? For all the questions above — No.

His line of thinking was reminiscence of the Pharisees and scribes.

He questions the father’s actions. He lets out his immaturity. He pouts. He is angry. He even stays outside of the house and outside of the family circle. A big brother should look out for his younger blood. He protects them. He cares for them. He looks for their benefits. But not in this case. As his younger sibling is welcomed home and given a feast, he lets go of his being a big brother.

One thing we read is this — “the father came out and pleaded with him”.

The father did not come out of the house when his younger son went out of his way. He did this when the big brother acted like a small child and did not act as a big brother. He does not want his older son to suffer. He does not want his son to be hungry for his love. He does not want his son to be lost. He wants him to be near him. The father knew what was like it, so he did his own his search and rescue. He came out for him. He pleaded with him. A father going after his son. The father’s request for him was not so much to be a big brother but to be a brother.

Before he will be lost, the father found him. So the big brother who became small is not big again but again a brother.

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Draw Near

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2

Some are drawing near, yet some are drawing far.

The ones who were closing in to Jesus were sinners. They were publicly identified as sinners. No righteousness in their skin or in their heart. They have no academic knowledge of drawing near to God. All they know is to come closer to Jesus. All they know is that Jesus welcomes them. He searches for them. Jesus ate with them. He walked with them going to a dinner or a teaching session of sorts. He spoke with them in public even if they were known publicly. They felt significant when he is with them, when he took time with them, when he sat with them at the places where they would congregate.

The ones who were drawing far from Jesus were not sinners, at least for them. They were identified as righteous persons. Their piety is shown in their appearances but not sure if it has penetrated their hearts. They have an academic knowledge in drawing near to God. All they know is theory not practicality. That’s why they always put Jesus in the examination room. Yet, Jesus searches for them or they look for Jesus. Wherever they are, Jesus is there. Wherever Jesus is, there they are. Given their position, they should be near to him but they are far. They even question how they spend the Jesus welcomes and eats with the sinners. Not only they are drawing far from him, they are making people draw far from him.

What can you learn from both? You can choose to be near or far to Jesus.

Choose to draw near to Jesus. Accept you are a sinner. Accept you need a Lord and Savior. Accept you need to know him. Listen to him as he declares his unconditional love for you. Listen to Jesus and listen not to people who are putting a gap between you and him. He searches for you, search for him, too.

Don’t draw far from Jesus. Don’t prevent people to come close to him. Jesus left his throne to be near to people, make his trip worthwhile. Even as you grow in Christ, don’t let your head knowledge of him overcome your relationship with him. Let him sit with new members of your church or community. Let him eat with new believers. Be glad, he welcomed you as he welcomes them.

When given a pencil and a clean paper, you know what to sketch. Draw near.

 

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Joint Account

He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31

Our mother used to keep bank accounts with each of her children as secondary signatories of the account.

The savings I accumulate goes to our joint account. When Christmas comes and I get financial gifts from my godmother, she puts it on the same account. If she thinks that she has some money to spare me, she’ll deposit right away in our account. When I won a quiz bee contest, she gave me prize money which was directly recorded in the account.

Looking at the account when I grew old, all of the funds where mostly saved for I may have deserved them or have worked for them. The joint account has also an expiry. If I reach 18 years old, my mother’s name can be erased since I have come of age, I become the primary owner of the account. But this did not happen, when the eruption of Mount Pinatubo crushed our home, we withdrew all our savings to contribute to building our home again.

The older son in the parable of the prodigal son might have been in the state of shock when his father told him that everything the father has is his. We know that this son toiled and labored for his father, yet his rightful part of the father’s property is now more than what he deserved. The son owns what the father owns. A joint account.

This joint account has no expiration date. This account may have deposits made due to the son’s work. However, the main requirement of the father for the son was to be with him always to have everything he has. The father was not focus on the son’s work for him. He was looking mainly at their relationship. Knowing that his son was near to him was enough.

If you are feeling lacking of something today, the Father has everything you need and everything he has is yours. He is always with us and be with him always. Know that the resource you need is a prayer away. There is a right time for his providence. There is a right amount for his splendor. Whatever you have is from his. Whatever you have from him is for him. Give to him whatever you get from him.

In this joint account, you don’t need to make a deposit to make a withdrawal. Such is the Father’s grace and love.

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One Way Trip

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Luke 16:24

This was the request of the rich man.

Max Lucado wrote about this man. That this man requested water. He also requested Abraham that Lazarus go back to his house to warn his brothers regarding the netherworld — Hell. Max pointed out that the rich man did not request that he’ll be save from hell.

Clever, right?

Jesus is pointing out rather an important teaching for all of us in this story — once you go the hell, forever you will be in hell.

That’s why as long as you are here on earth, do everything in God’s power not go to hell.

Commit to Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Love God. Love others. Repent and believe. Avoid sin. Remember to love and follow the laws of Christ. Be faithful to your spouse. Be a responsible and loving parent. Respect your parents. Respect your children. Show love to your neighbors including the snob at the corner. Give encouragement to the fallen. Share your food to the Lazarus at your doorstep. Send money to children in need in developing nations. Attend church. Pray daily. Read his word. Commune with believers.

I know, you have a long list of to believe, to love and to do.

Yet, always keep in mind and in heart these are all worth it. For in every action, every thought, every word, you choose between heaven or hell.

For in both places, there is no return flight. There is no back in the back and forth. It’s a one way trip.

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Equalizer

When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,.. Luke 16:22

Ha! This is just like the cellphone. At least in the Philippines.

The fireman has one. The garbage boy has the new model. The riches politicians uses it at the sessions. A student in her early teens has accessories with it. You look at the blue security guard’s pocket, he has one. Everybody has a cell phone! The fishball vendor. The meat slicer in the wet market. Nurse. Doctor. Engineer. Accountant. Policeman. Clerk. Jeepney drivers. Car drivers. Bikers. Elementary graduate. High School drop-out. The oldest man in the neighborhood can text you. The youngest fellow in the family can call you. The cellphone, it’s an equalizer.

Just like death. Jesus told us this, the poor and the rich will all meet death. Nobody is here on earth is to live forever and not bumped into death. Death maybe an early call or can be postponed for some decades. However, as sure as the air you breathe, you will stop in doing so. One day, we will all have to put our backs flat and never have to stand up again.

If death is the equalizer, what is that will spell the difference?

Life.

The way you live your life will present the inevitable inequality. To whom you will dedicate it. To whom you will spend it. For whom you will breathe as long as you live. How you are committed to loving God and helping people will make a difference. Why you do the things you are doing for God and his church will make the slack.

The rich man knew he has a poor man, Lazarus, at his gates but did not look his way. He was clothed with garments and linen good enough to make Lazarus warm and cover his sores but did not do it. Lazarus was willing to take the scraps from his table but he won’t let it fall.

Lazarus, on the other hand, kept quiet. He did not curse God for his life. He did not shout at this rich man for not helping him. He accepted his situation and understood others situation. His conduct gives us the picture of man who did not complain about his empty stomach and body sores enough for a dog’s tongue action.

Decide who made the difference.

Decide to make a difference.

Life is the difference, death is the equalizer. You can do something with the difference, you can’t do something with the equalizer.

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Heavy

They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. Matthew 23:4

If life has an idiom, this is it.

A bull session after the Christian seminar. As the set-up was set down, the service team were asked to gather by the leaders for a meeting. The ending of the seminar did not end their joy in serving but started their fulfillment for pouring precious hours to reach people for God. The heavenly burden on their shoulders was light by the grace of God’s strength. The event servants have been putting their hands and hearts on the line for about two weeks now, so the end of the seminar was a heave of relief and fruitfulness.

So they were astonished when a heavier burden was laid out by the leaders, “If you have ill feelings towards one another, negative thoughts in serving with one another, this is the time and place to let it out!”

This was really heavier on the serving people. When leaders assume members have ill feelings towards one another, they burden them. When people in position see that their followers are in a bad position where in fact not, it weighs down the members. Instead of a life giving atmosphere, burden giving was in the air.  These are the kind of burden shoulders can’t carry.

Leaders must share the light not darkness. Leaders must make heavy things light not making the light heavy. If you are leading, supervising, mentoring or parenting, do this. Avoid putting anger in hearts. Avoid planting dirt in hands. Avoid seeding guilt in minds. You can assign service matters to your members but do not assign unnecessary matters in their lives.

In this earthly life, every person will have to bear something on their shoulders. Don’t add what you are not willing to lift. Give life. Give light. Not heavy.

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