Monday, October 15, 2007

When Time Becomes Forever

The origin of the Universe is our origin:

Its beginning, our own beginning,

Its ending, our own ending.

Though cast into life in the year of our birth,

The seed that conceived us

Came all the way from Year Zero -- so with our soul and spirit.

The time from our birth to Creation, though seemingly long,

Is but an instant in our mind;

So it is for God – a blinking of an eye.

When we die, the end of the Universe is but a waking instant away;

And time spent in waiting is but a twinkling of a star;

And the lights of the galaxies will all be over too.

We will all be there to see it,

To experience the spectacle as with one eye, as one person --

We all -- from Adam to the last child born.

Physicists claim: We exist in a Universe which remains --

If we imagine an ant on a balloon --

The same wherever you look, the same wherever you stand.

And so, whether we measure time from our birth

Or we reckon it beyond death or fathom it within this moment,

It is but a tiny glimmer, yet, a hopeful vision of eternity.

What we feel, see and know then

Is timeless reality, both compressed and stretched,

Within this vibrant panoply called LIFE.

God alone has the power to travel freely

From the infinite to the finite and back again,

While we, through space, must cross forward from beginning to end.

Or is it that we move from moment to moment --

Ever the present, ever the now --

And that what is before or after does not matter anyhow?

As Christ is the beginning and the end

So is our life, a glorious trek with Him through time.

As He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow

So is our life, a promise of everlasting perfection.

As He promised to be with us to the Earth’s ends,

So we shall live with Him where He now reigns.

Isn’t all this then a proof that He is God

And that He has the power to know

And to control the eternal fate of humans?

Isn’t this glimpse of His real nature

Enough to destroy unbelief?

Enough to show us our folly?

Hence, the mystery of life can be reduced to one idea --

The Universe began when light came into being

By the might of God our Creator.

As Jesus Christ is the True Light Who set all things

into motion,

So by His love, when the world will cease to exist,

We shall

leave time and

live forever. . . .

(Photo above: The fly, like many insects, is said to be able to see forward, sideways, upward, downward and backward all at once as it flies. For such a tiny creature to do so may things without going crazy, boggles the mind. God does have a great sense of humor and, we might add, a lot of wisdom.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

How Do We Make Friends with Mammon?

How do we make friends with Mammon? Let us count the ways:

  1. A friend is one who is your peer or co-equal. So Mammon, first of all, should be treated as such, not as a master or even a slave. Those who treat him as a master (they actually serve those who have the abilities to multiply wealth) fall prey to their own greed for power and more things. Think of all the world’s dictators. Those who treat him as a slave (they spend money as if it were a means to satisfy their desires), on the other hand, lose grip of its power to benefit them and others. Think of the prodigal son.
  1. A friend is one who is there when you need him. But we usually look for what a friend can do for us, not for the friendship alone. Money – not necessarily wealth – has indirect value for all. We all work literally for the money we get. But we don’t need the money; we need food, clothes, a house, education, etc. Those who “need” money are so shortsighted they miss out on the truly important things in life.
  1. A friend does not leave you in times of trouble. How can we apply this to money? Simple, don’t run out of money! Easier said than done. In one way, we can turn to friends (real people) who can bail us out in times of crisis. The best way is to save enough money for the lean seasons. Discipline yourself enough to know when not to abuse your friend Mammon so that he stays when you really need him. In short, if we know how to make real friends, even money will follow.
  1. A friend builds up your confidence in the proper way. Pride often comes with wealth. Many rich people remain humble because their confidence is in their dignity and self-worth, not in having much money. Think of Midas. Yet, even a little money can make some people crazy. Heard of the construction worker who spent all his week’s salary on liquor? Not that much; but it was his family’s support for a week. Self-respect is the mother of self-confidence.
  1. A real friend wants you to have more real friends. Good money attracts more good money. So does bad money. Your values, however, determine how long your legacy to the world lasts. By the way, by good money we mean that which is used for good, not just much money. But remember: Good money blesses the world and gains you many friends; bad money degrades it and leaves you desolate.
  1. Finally, a genuine friend thinks of your own good and not only his own. Most people should realize, like right now, that money has no brain or soul to begin with. Mammon was just a name the ancients used when they began to give him life, power and majesty. (I sort of like the phrase used in the King James Bible to describe wealth and the detestable things that the love of money can bring: filthy lucre. It conjures dirty pirates gaily bearing bloodied treasure chests on shore. Now, that is no ghost story or fairy tale.) Money became a god a long time ago and until now so many people still worship him. Think of all the empires of the world. They call Mammon by other names; but he is still as dumb and as dead as the paper or metal used for making money.
So, you see, Mammon or money -- if you worship him or not – can only do good to you if you do good to yourself at the start. Your friends treat you the way you treat them. And since you are practically dealing with an abstract thing (not really dead, as we said, because gods have a way of acquiring wicked spiritual existence; putting God’s name or the faces of heroes on the money doesn’t seem to exorcize all that evil from the minds of people), it is best to think first of what is good and what is right and then investing your efforts on those things. We said efforts, not money; money comes only when you put in the effort.

You – yes, you who is tapping your wallet – are still your own best friend. So, all that talk about money being able to buy or not to buy happiness simply misses the point: it does and it doesn’t; you can have happiness, with or without money. The question is: Will you live long enough – meaning forever -- to experience real happiness with the true God and not just with a false god?

Be a good friend to yourself and Mammon or money will be a good friend to you. And even if he does decide to leave you, you can turn to your living friends who have benefited from your friendship. Such friends will walk with you to your final destination. For, remember the saying: You really can’t take money with you to your grave. Think of the Pharaohs!

We do not live by “bread” alone but by the grace of the living God. But the god Mammon only lives because we allow him to. Some god is Mammon! But Mammon as a friend -- yes, we can live with that.

(Photo above: The unfinished flyover at the entrance to Baguio City (taken last April) remains today almost as it looked then -- a symbol of the folly of some led about by Mammon.)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Live the Spirit!

Prepare by becoming Me.

I had a dream once and the Lord spoke those words to me.

Every morning, we go through the ritual of preparing for something, like breakfast which is a must-have for most people. Physically, the food we eat becomes us! At work, we prepare for meetings or for other numerous activities. A whole week at home or at work may well be a preparation for a wedding or a big convention abroad. In fact, a whole job may be a preparation for another job with bigger pay and higher responsibilities. The tasks or the work then that we accomplish practically become us. Thus, we become parents by preparing ourselves to become parents. Likewise, the company president got his job because he did things that qualified him to gain that title and to become that officer.

Our whole life, as it is, is one big preparation for the next one – a continuing process of becoming what we should be. Thus, it is important to know how we must do what we need to do now. By imitating the example of Christ, we assure ourselves that we qualify for advancement to “higher grounds”.

Becoming like Christ (becoming Him) in our lives requires following the steps He took to become -- or to prove – Who He really is: The Son of God. His very first step was to be baptized by John in Jordan River. Although He didn’t need to, He did so to “fulfill all righteousness”. By doing so, He received the Holy Spirit Who then empowered Him to do mighty works.

At that moment of baptism, John heard the Father in heaven say to Jesus, “You are My Son in Whom I Am well pleased.” The prophets had foretold that moment when God would beget or “give birth” to His Son by giving Him the Holy Spirit in His fullness. Jesus was thus formally proclaimed by heaven as the Son of God and as God living among humans. Jesus, though human at that point, became the Father -- that is, shared in His perfect divine nature. The process was sealed completely by the giving of the Holy Spirit.

After that, Jesus went to the desert to fast and pray and was tempted by Satan. Was He tempted because He was vulnerable or because Satan knew he had to prevent Jesus from starting His work? Jesus knew the first step is always the hardest and steeled His spirit accordingly. That means He remained steadfast in the Holy Spirit. While Satan quoted and twisted Scriptures to tempt Jesus, Jesus answered with truth by the power of the Spirit.

In short, Jesus’ training for His work as Messiah meant facing the enemy face-to-face. He obviously wrestled with real temptations. His bouts with Satan were not childish games but life-and-death struggles of the human spirit against seductive worldly attractions, things that Satan held at his command.

To a certain extent, new-born believers must go immediately through an intense process of cleansing (sanctification) to put on new habits that will replace the old ones. Like Jesus, triumphant in the first bouts with Satan, one can go confidently walking with God carrying the assurance of protection and wisdom.

Next, Jesus chose His friends and fellow workers. We might say it was so easy for Him, having the eyes of God, literally. How about us who fall into bad company every now and then? Or grow cold in our relationships? He certainly had His frustrations over His disciples but He was patient and compassionate toward them. And His efforts bore much fruit.

We have to choose whom we live and work with carefully. With enough trust in God, we will be led to those whom He knows will enhance or complete our lives. They, like us, will falter in their walk but our duty is to share their burdens and to allow them to share ours. At Gethsemane, all that Jesus needed was company but His disciples were too tired to keep watch. Friendship or companionship is basically that – keeping watch together.

With enough good people to live and carry the load of life with, everything else is adjusting to the problems that may arise and reaping the harvest of doing good and doing well. Many more trials may arise, many more bouts with Satan may bring about sadness, pain and defeat; but becoming Jesus is overcoming this world.

Yes, Jesus did overcome the world. He overcame sin and death. He overpowered all His enemies. Except for those who still resist His testimonies, He has everything under His rule and authority. That is because He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Yes, that is definitely OVERCOMING THE WORLD! Hence, becoming Jesus is reigning with Him: He rules over our lives while we strive to rule over our own fleshly desires. Defeating Satan continually in our lives leads us to become like Jesus.

Yes, we "become Jesus" by also overcoming the world. We live like He did and work like He does to this day – saving as many souls from the clutches of Satan.

Our preparation may be hard and may take much time; but remember: If we live in the Holy Spirit Who is our gift from the Lord Jesus, the Spirit will do the work in us. Not by our own wisdom and power can we "become Jesus". Ours is simply to submit to His will. Ultimately then, we become Jesus when we live His Spirit!

Jesus became obedient to the Father until death. The first step in our preparation to join the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven is obedience through faith.

Live the Spirit!

(Photo above: Children in Intramuros play "piko", unmindful of people passing by. Do we behave like children when we play or do we play to become children again? Fun is truly ageless.)