Monthly Archives: July 2012

Behold

…and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” John 1:36

For a long time, the people were beholding John.

Until now.

On this day, Jesus comes and John pointed their eyes to look at the Lamb of God. John was a willing front man converted to a background. For the rest of his years in the desert, the people were looking for him for answers, for wisdom. For about thirty years, his followers were waiting where he would go and where he won’t go. For those years, peoples’ faces were in front of his face. This day, those faces turned to Jesus’ face. He tells them, “Behold…” He directs them to the one who does not only give answers but who is the Answer. He points them to the one who does not only show the way but who is the Way.

We wonder if John prepared himself for this moment. He may have been resolute to do this for he knows he was called to prepare the way but not to be the Way. He may have wrestled with the thought that he will be an afterthought when this time would finally come. Yet, we know what he did. He said, “Look at Jesus, not at me.”

Will you point people to Jesus? Allow their faces to make a turn from yours and behold Jesus. Will you allow yourself to be “second”? Allow Jesus to take the higher podium in your life and in their lives. Know that your ability is limited and his is limitless. Know that your work is bounded and his is infinite. Learn to give the baton to Jesus and finish the race.

Whoever you are in preparing his way, may you do this. You may not be John the Baptist and maybe you are John the greeter. Or John the table setter. Or John the acolyte. Or John the music minister. Or John the food preparer. Or John the church cleaner. Or John the popular preacher. Or John the head pastor. Or John the assistant to the vice member of the parish council.

Let Jesus take the center stage. Be ready and be prepared, as you prepare for him, to say “Behold…”

May you say the same. May you do the same.

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Forward

He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching. Mark 6:6

It should have brought his drive down.

But not.

At his own hometown, Jesus saw the lack of faith. People questioned who he is . They asked where his words came from. They questioned the work of his hands. His humanity was presented yet his divinity is doubted. In fact, he already has followers by this time and that did not dig a hole in their hearts.

He may have retreated or went to other places with what he saw. His words and his works are bouncing back to him. His extra-ordinary miracles are seen yet people see him as ordinary. He saw their lack of faith but he saw an opportunity to teach the faith. Their doubts did not prevent him to go forward in bringing the gospel. No lack of faith will stop him. No hard hearts will block him. No doubting questions will give him a dead end.

Jesus moves forward.

In your life. In the midst of your doubts. You question him, he does not stop until you see clearly and get the answer. He sees your lack of faith, he fills you with grace to believe. You close you heart to him, he patiently knocks until you open. When you belittle who he is or what he can do, this won’t block him, he stays with you until he becomes big in your life.

Aren’t you glad he does not stop coming after you?

No retreating on you. Not quitting on you. He only knows one direction. Forward.

 

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Forgiving

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

His death turned our world upside down.

He is my brother. I was a new college kid trying to come home to get ready and collect my grades for my first semester when something unusual was at our house. There were many people. My father is not there. My mother and my sisters seem to be confused and distraught. That’s where I suspected something not good happened. I was told my brother died.

He was shot in the head. He was a new civil engineer who was a topnotcher in the nationwide board examinations. He was a new employee in this construction firm who was working in a horizontal project in a flung neighborhood where these goons might have mocked him for doing what is right and killed him on the spot. Afterwards our world was never the same.

Our father stopped actively running the family business. The dead son was his best son. Our mother cried an ocean if not a lake. The dead son was her best son, too. Our aunt, who lived with us, was devastated. The dead nephew is her favorite among tens of nieces and nephews. And us, his brothers and sisters, were hurt and pain resided as if another sibling can go anytime.

His killers were not imprisoned for their crime, as far as we know. Actually, only our father met them. We never knew their names. We never saw their faces. We were hopeless in depending with the justice system and allowed the crime to get into the bottom of the police files. As our brother’s passing changed our lives, these ruthless people changed our hearts.

Each time, my heart claws down into its deep and brings out these moments, there is a feeling of unforgiveness. A question pops out, “Why would I forgive when there was no justice?”. An answer replies, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:22. When Peter asked Jesus on this, he was not referring to any justice. He did not include if the sinner asks for mercy. Peter only implied forgiveness on the part of the offended.

Thus, every time I remember this crime against our family, I forgive. Every death anniversary of our brother, I forgive. Every time I look back on how our family suffered through this, I forgive. When I see our family picture with my dead brother in it, I forgive. Every time, I hear the same injustice is being done, I forgive. Every time I visit that day, I forgive. When the hurt comes back, I forgive.

Forgiving is for giving yourself a chance to change your heart. Forgiving is for giving others a chance to change.

Forgiveness is not a one time deal. Forgiveness is a lifetime virtue. It is an on-going part of the healing and growing process. It is seventy-seven times.

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Cascade

The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan, “I have found the book of the law in the temple of the LORD.” Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it. 2nd book of Kings 22:8

It’s like the domino effect.

In my line of work, electric power systems operations and planning, one small disturbance can create a cascading effect on the whole electric grid if not prevented or eliminated. A small change in one parameter in the system will provide what would we call oscillations in the steady stability of the power network. The result of this maybe insignificant unwarranted event if not mitigated can be catastrophic and may lead to outage of electric power to several large areas. Most often, engineers predict these events so as to stop the occurrence of gigantic proportions of blackouts. In a sense, this small change may impact a larger scale of the system.

I’m pretty sure Hilkiah, the high priest, is not an engineer but he well understood this line of thinking. He did one small step toward changing a whole kingdom. He gave the law of the LORD to Shaphan and from there it changed the lives of people living in their times. Shapan gave and read the book to the king, after which the king gave instructions further on how the kingdom can go deeply into the law of God,  “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” 2 Kings 22:13.

One simple small act of spreading God’s word changed their kingdom. Note that there was no preaching conference. There was no tent meeting. No shouting with mere eloquence. No wisdom imparted with words juggled to amuse the listener. Just the words of God at work.

We can do this. You can do this. Share God’s word is your own small ways. A bible verse sticker on your car. Bible verses posted in your family room or your office cubicle. An encouragement to your lowly colleague. A good word for the family member felling bad. Donate to the ministry spreading free bible anywhere else.

There is power in the word of God. No speech from a human can augment that. No organized event can add to that. With a simple action, that power will change lives. And this power will not be eliminated nor mitigated. The power of God’s words will roll, will cascade.

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