Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why We Wear Clothes: A Woman's Woes

The other day, I heard the woman who does the laundry for officers in a Philippine military camp complaining about having to wash and iron clothes day-in and day-out. And to add to her woes, she has to deal with the daily rainfall that prevents her from drying her laundry in time. Trying to console her, I said, “This is all a result of sin. But can you imagine if Adam and Eve did not sin? We would all be naked now and you would have no job!”

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aren’t You Glad There is Internet?

Here are just some interesting thoughts about life online:

  1. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to feel so alone and lonely now since Internet chatting came along?
  2. Aren’t you glad you now have a medium for creative expression and intellectual interaction? Almost everyone has become an artist or a writer just by using simple graphic tools and word processors.
  3. Aren’t you glad people send you funny jokes, photos or videos that really make you laugh?
  4. Aren’t you glad there is YouTube where you can watch old clips of the Beatles, Monkees, Rolling Stones and other bands (or listen to any music for that matter)? We are able to relive our youth more easily now.
  5. Aren’t you glad you can read the news online and give feedback immediately if you want to? Good for our health because we don’t have to harbor strong emotions for so long!
  6. Aren’t you glad you can have jam sessions with friends in LA and Australia simultaneously with just a little time delay and still have so much fun together?
  7. Aren’t you glad there’s Yahoo! to remind you (and others, of course) it’s your birthday?
  8. Aren’t you glad you can talk to people across the globe and exchange photos, files and songs in the comfort of your room? Beats watching a movie where we sit beside people and never even talking to them.
  9. Aren’t you glad you can read about archeology or medicine online for a night and learn as much as, if not more than, you can learn from a semester of college lectures? The only distraction to such studying is the Internet itself -- that is, if you happen to be chatting or browsing at the same time.
  10. Aren’t you glad wi-fi connectivity allows you to bring your pc wherever you want to inside the house or almost anywhere outside of it? Like the car which is the home’s extension (where you can eat, drink and even sleep), the laptop is the brain’s portable extension (which allows us to think more efficiently, to create or produce more swiftly and freely, to be entertained more widely and vicariously, to communicate more instantly and to grow more as a person multi-dimensionally).
  11. Aren’t you glad there is the digital camera which allows you to store memories more economically and more efficiently? No more excuses about not remembering when, where and with whom you spent your last birthday or not knowing what your children or your friends did during a vacation in San Francisco or Boracay?
  12. Aren’t you glad you can learn about the latest happening about a person or a family and get to see pictures within a day or two? Perhaps, no one is born now without somebody from a foreign country not knowing about it or seeing his/her photo. Everyone has become a world-wide celebrity even at birth!
  13. Aren’t you glad you can buy almost anything online and have it delivered to you in a matter of days?
  14. Aren’t you glad your children can play games on the PC while you also play your own games? Not always that good for the health or the family as a whole but it sure helps you to relax at times.
  15. Aren’t you glad lives are blessed and transformed through the inspiring stories and useful articles being passed around via email? Used to be that we needed pastors and counselors to achieve that, if we felt we needed it, which we usually never did.
  16. Aren’t you glad you can open up or even expound your ideas to unseen or faceless people as openly as you want to without having to go through the discomfort of an engaged conversation or a formal speech?
  17. Aren’t you glad that God is more talked about now online than ever before when people didn’t even dare talk about Him outside the church?

Do you think God Himself is glad we are getting closer to becoming a truly, harmonious and interconnected family? Ultimately, how we use our time, our talents and our resources -- with or without technology’s help -- will determine the destiny of humanity.

Enjoy the sight and sound of a morning rainbow, the sea, the sky and the chorus of the wind, waves and pebbles right now!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What is God’s Will?

Is it what happens; that is, what already transpired, with or without our acceptance or agreement to it? Or is it what we want to happen with God’s help and does come to pass? Or, perhaps, it is all of that.

The greater question might be: Are we at all party to the things that occur in the Universe? Or are humans caught in a cosmic maelstrom in which they only have infinitesimal control over a few paltry things, mostly physical and sometimes moral, but that in the entire spectrum of existence we are as helpless as animals and as inconsequential as the atoms that form our bodies?

Certainly, this is a tough matter to tackle with so much of history that we still do not truly understand, let alone know the exact manner in which any particular event took place. Take for instance the Great Flood. Did it really occur? And if it did, did it happen the way the Genesis writer described it in so much detail – from the kind of wood used, the exact number of days it rained, the particular bird Noah sent to search for dry land and the name of the mountain on which the Ark landed?

We now know that several ancient civilizations had a similar Great Flood tradition. The names had somehow changed but the essential story remained. Have we accepted as real history a tale conceived by ancient poets perhaps or is it a well-preserved record of what truly transpired according to Divine will? Are we to say that only modern, scientific people have the skills to deduce or produce reliable historical records?

Or did Noah truly live – an upright man with a wife and three married children? Did he hear the voice telling him to build that Ark and, putting his trust on that voice, did in fact spend the next 120 years building that Ark according to precise specifications which science has somehow proven to be feasible? This explains perhaps why a few over-eager believers have dedicated their lives to hunting the remains of the Ark on a mountain in Turkey. All in the hopes of obliterating all doubts about the story and, it must necessary follow, God’s omniscience?

But why put all burden of the proof on one story or one man alone when we have hundreds of others? Archeology has, for good measure, proven much of biblical history to be valid. Enough to give us a clear view of God’s will.

Hence, the important thing is that one man – whether it was Noah or not -- did hear God reveal a plan – His will – and made it his own and thus “made things happen” according to that plan and, thus, according to God’s will.

Apparently, Noah must have felt a bit embarrassed from having to cut those many trees and building a vessel on top of a hill. More so from the fact that it had never rained on the Earth until that time! What rain is this foolish man talking about? What is a flood? It was apparently a case of a man inventing a concept to justify a future event that did not make any sense to normal-thinking people. Back then, as it is now, Noah would have been the craziest person alive to come up with such a plan.

God’s will, at that point, did not make sense either to Noah or to other people around him. This is probably the main reason why Noah stands among the great Fathers of Faith. He was a man who saw and understood God’s will, made it his own and worked to fulfill it in his life.

In a much smaller scale, we can all be like Noah. With the amount of faith given to us, we all can know what God’s will or plan is in our lives. The difficult task of recognizing and understanding that may take years and years and may even frustrate us eventually. Moses knew what God’s will was – that is, for the Israelites to receive the Promised Land – but ended up spending 40 years in the wilderness and not being able to set foot on it himself. Not because of unbelief on his part but because the other part of God’s will was to teach the Israelites the same principle He was teaching Moses: Trust totally in Me and I will lead you across all difficulties. His will is not something He hands over without preparing us for it. We don’t become responsible adults without passing through proper childhood training.

The Israelites failed miserably. But the good news is: We don’t have to fail.

God’s will is to give us life, to prosper us and to lead us into triumph. Thus, Moses cried to the people between the charging Egyptians and the billowing Red Sea: Fear not and see the salvation that the Lord will do for you today!

Not Pharaoh, not nature, not hunger, not thirst and not despair will cause those who truly trust in God to feel abandoned. Well, perhaps, like Moses, the attitudes of others may lead us to anger and even failure. But that will never prevent God’s will from being fulfilled. A young Joshua will come along to carry the baton forward.

Hence, with or without our faith in God’s will, with or without our acceptance of His terms and with or without our active participation in fulfilling it, God’s will cannot be prevented. Even the rocks will shout and praise God if no one else will!

Yes, so many will merely stand and watch God’s will being fulfilled in the lives of others. They may even participate in trying to prevent it from happening. THAT, is not God’s will. Pharaoh’s army drowned in the sea – THAT, is God’s will. We call it judgment.

Ah, but we now go back to what we said earlier: Are we in control or is God in control? If we believe we are in control, then we deceive ourselves.

God’s will, as some claim, may be predetermined or predestined – whatever that may mean – but it is knowable and doable. He created the Universe for our benefit and not the other way around. God’s will is precisely to bless us with His entire creation that is why we do exist. Scientific knowledge may be good and desirable but it will not tell us God’s will. His ultimate will, therefore, is for humans to come to know the Divine Nature and for us to strive to attain that high calling.

How God worked out the way for us to know and to fulfill His will has been revealed through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we listen, we can be like Noah or Moses knowing exactly what needs to be done. And, finally, we can be like the Apostles knowing how things should be done.

God’s will then, if we notice, is essentially to give us Life and that we might have it so abundantly.

(Photo above: Did the Sun simply come as a result of some cosmic accident? Did it suddenly find a way of synthesizing plants to produce fruits? Did the banana result only to be itself or to feed humans and animals? Certainly all these did not come by chance but by the will of a Creator.)