Gospel View Unlocked

During the early stages of my Christian walk, I would find the words “preach the gospel to yourself” offensive. Back then I’d consider it only as an entry point to Christianity. I couldn’t be more wrong. If one would use the same statement towards the majority of believers, they would be just as offended (I’ve tried). For it is expected somehow that a “Christian” would “know” the “gospel”. Expounding those quotes and unquotes here:

“Christian” – simply a follower of Christ. Many would claim to be a christian solely because of their religious affiliation and not mainly since it is their true belief system, that which translates itself to daily application.

“Know” – one’s understanding to a given subject. We may claim to know things, and it may be true at some level, but the depth of our comprehension varies from person to person – most commonly because of that person’s exposure to that particular subject.

“Gospel” – the good news, the foundation of the Christian faith. To some, it’s only the books of the bible called the gospels because they’re called the “gospels”. To the minority, it’s the only topic worth investing all efforts understanding that they will only fail to grasp the fullness of its riches, simply because one cannot.

I’m a fan of listening to christian podcasts but I have to be honest that I really am selective with preachers I listen to.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one but I get bored quickly. Not that the message has to entertain, but it should engage you to a point that you wouldn’t want any distractions your way. Also, we can’t really listen to everyone especially when they don’t make sense and talk big on the peripherals rather than what is should be preeminent.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Paul Washer’s preachings. And in so doing, found that my view of the message of the Gospel has been enhanced as most of his messages keeps the main thing, the main thing, which is God and the message of His Gospel. Here are some of the things I learned about the world’s most important message recently.

Comparing God’s effort in biblical creation and salvation

In reading the book of Genesis, one would find that creation was done effortlessly. He says “let there be” and there is! Out of nothing, the universe came to be. Nothing created into being with nothing but a breath from the Almighty. No other can do this but God Himself.

Then the infamous act of history happened, man sinned. Fast forward, Christ came to redeem the lost, Christ came to die on the cross. Christ, both God and man, entered the physical realm and endured all temptations and human-initiated afflictions set against Him towards this central event.

The pressure of the foreordained punishment made Him sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane. Those mentioned only pales in comparison to the cup He keeps verbalizing. The cup of wrath, God’s holy judgment, reserved for the sins of men, that He would drink, making him sin who knew no sin, to appease His Father’s wrath on the cross. Salvation of men came at an unimaginable cost in comparison to the creation of the universe.

But why? If to die in place of your favorite pet doesn’t make sense, how much more God for His creation?

The paradox of logical-illogical

“Why is there something rather than nothing?” – Martin Heidegger, Philosophy’s greatest question.

There are many theories attempting to address the question, and I as a biased Christian would find our confidence much secured. Although, I try to be as objective as possible, it is really our platform that would appeal to the rational despite it’s logical limitations. There is something rather than nothing because of the overflow of His abundance.

But is it not also logical for it to be, humanly speaking, illogical? Since it cannot be bound by human comprehension that the God surging with holiness and love would make man only out of an overflow of His abundance. Not by the need, as we logically do, but by an express excess of His natures, naturally displaying itself for appreciation outside Himself.

In the same way, He died on the cross not because we are lovable, as we are sinful creatures only worthy of His intense full wrath, but because He is Love. And because He is the very personification of the word love, Jesus took the cup of God’s wrath on our behalf. True Love is never logical.

Still, this would sound absurd if we don’t know what sin is and who this Christ is.

Christ’s unmatched worth over all creation

A student once asked him proudly, “how does the crucifixion of Christ satisfy God’s wrath?”

Fair question. Why doesn’t the scapegoat, or any other sacrifice suffice to appease His wrath?

First is that none of us have any idea just how sinful the sinfulness of sin is. If we think about it, modern culture has so desensitized us of how terribly wrong sin is. Take into consideration how the world is continuously spiraling down its moral standards on what is right and what is wrong. It even comes to a point of pointing out the relativity of time differences without sound reasoning, as if what’s morally wrong differs from generation to generation. Our understanding has been blurred, so and so that we no longer have a clear view of how vile an act of disobedience of eating a fruit from a specially forbidden tree is just as detestable to Him.

Secondly, words would not suffice the indescribable worth of Jesus Christ. If we put all of creation on one end of the scale and Christ, God Himself, on the other, the scales would have been destroyed in His favor. The point is, why even ask the question? God is always over His creation in a manner outside fathoming. An archangel is not any closer than a randomly floating bacteria in the sewers system to His likeness.

All this leads a person to worship Him in this life and the next. But is our response of worship attain such a level that we can meet the law’s requirements?

Man’s direly severe incapacity to worship appropriately

It is new that I would know that until now I am unable to worship God as He ought to be worshiped. Just as I don’t know just how sinful sin is, just as I don’t know how valuable Christ is, and in the flesh am prone to idolatry.

Yet the Christ, always able to do, always loving the Father with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength, at all times as we ought. It is to Him the Father is well pleased. This is Him who took the place of His people to do the humanly impossible.

This leaves one back to bow himself of His awesome glory. An unlimited level of inception of sorts that enables a person by reminding him that we ought to worship more than we did at our prime.

As a friend would tell me, a story won’t appeal as much when it does not have enough roots, lacks background, or it only has a shallow context that supports it. So mine the infinite treasures of the gospel. Know everything available about it. Preach the fullness of the gospel to yourself. Be unashamed when you shame yourself for it’s advancement. Woe to us if we do not for no other message is worthy of everything.

Doxology: Father, we pray that You traumatize us with Your glory! Let the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the love of Christ compel us all that we’ll also be able overflow in Your abundance. In the matchless name of Jesus we pray, amen!

2016: My Rational Choice

My Rational Choice

“Heavy loads are not meant to put one down, but to make one stronger.”

For the longest time, I have been sheltered from what was always known as the “REAL WORLD”. The dark, miry, combustive place where people find themselves in the true test and further refinement of their character. This year was more of an official exposure. My dad had retired and I had to part ways from home, which basically means zero financial support replaced by encouragements like “you can do it!” and some friends who you can negotiate terms with. Money in, money out – nothing new with that part.

When I was younger, I’d always hear “wait until you get to the REAL WORLD”. I know I didn’t expect as much then as I am experiencing now. Circumstances only show to get harder and harder still, requiring sustained growth from individuals with no respect to preferences. That considering a car, a house, a partner or, much more, a family is not across my shoulders yet, I really need to force myself to grow. I thought I knew much only to be humbled by time and be met with more excellent companions.

Everything I see is grace – an undeserved, unmerited favor to an unqualified individual who’ve done nothing but play, judge, complain, and be pampered by ideals. Nope, I’m not saying my parents never disciplined us. If only I knew better then… but what use is that now? Only to serve as reminders for the benefits of discipline and the consequences of choices.

We all have choices to make. From the rising of the sun to its setting. From the alarm clock that wakes you in the morning to the social media you course through before sleeping. These choices, no matter how small, create ripples that our myopic perceptions fail to consider yet tends to show itself potentially even more important than the former. In convenience, we are inclined to act only in view of what’s presented in the surface when we ought to tarry in considering its effects on the more important aspects – those which take priority in our list of values.

If there’s any heavy load that I need to exercise more often, it is to opt for this rational choice – death to self and life to values. They are two yet inseparable.

Death to self

“Your arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest lesson of all – it’s not about you.” – The Ancient One, Doctor Strange

The more I learn about myself, the more I realize that I am more like a black hole, pulling in everything within its reach, into its core, yet in its most formidable attempts, it is left insatiably craving more to fill the mysterious abyss. My entitlements and my longings encroach me to make decisions fixed on feeding this emptiness in me so vast that the world itself cannot fill it. Such statements may sound exaggerated yet these are no play of words but perceived truths of the soul.

This is so that I must remind myself daily that I am not the center of this universe, therefore it does not revolve to please my tragically unstable loves. Because if it does, then how about you? How about the countless individuals who would like to think this life is all about them? There’s no comprehending such a world with infinite centers.

One must compromise self-centeredness and its vanities for truth, unless one wishes to live in illusions only to be disappointed with the world’s realities. Yet it is futile still to put self to death and with no sense of recourse to follow after.

Life to values

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” – Jesus, Mark 8:35

“To where o soul are you headed. You seek life in the things that are dead. They find not what they seek for they run from the very Answer, which is not what they hope to find. It is for the Eternal and Infinite to fill such a void and not for the fleeting, shallow, nor the narrow.”

Compromise doesn’t sound like anyone’s ready act but if we’re able to apply it in appropriate places, one finds it to be useful. To compromise pride by forgiving, to win back love, is a temporary death itself. It may be freely given, but to the expense of the giver for nothing comes without cost. The giver would have been only at loss if one finds oneself unable to gain the purpose of one’s compromise or something else that pleases one to the same degree. An exchange is expected to take place then – One’s values in lieu of oneself. Aren’t they the same? Apparently not in this text.

“Oneself” is composed of one’s pride, lusts, preferences, and entitlements. One’s “values”, on the other hand, consist those that are outside our inner self – God, family, nation, next generation, career, and on goes your list. Make sure they’re worth living and dying for and one is good to go.

The fact remains. I am a black hole yearning to be filled. In this, one finds the concept of Christian Hedonism supremely palatable, where it perceives that “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever”. In response to the Initiator’s love, it is one’s delight to search and be married to the love of his soul even at the expense of his very self. What greater can one seek than the Ultimate, the One, and True Center. Though in humble and honest seeking, one may not be keen to consider the effect of the ripples, one rests comforted for it is the Sovereign who rules over them.

If there’s one major influence in the lessons you can check out this reference. It’s a rough year with a lot of adjustments and I thank everyone who’ve helped me through it. Thank you LORD for 2016! Set our foot where your Word directs us, guide us in correcting our disciplines, and empower us to practice Your truths with the goal of our most beautiful, ever present hope, truly glorious, and incomparably worthy reward, You.

Let These Senses Wait on You

O remind your subject, my Lord, my God, that You alone are eternally worthy of worship.
Religion has placed itself theoretically; prompt me that this between us is relationship.

Though I carve my idols with my bare hands, You still bestow things too grand for I to conquer.
Ever grip me within Your dear mercy, so I may walk in Your presence forever.

O sing to me day in day out, so I may hear Your lovely voice.
Grace me to obedience, as if it were my only choice.

Your fragrance transcends description, for man’s highest standards lay manure.
Tracing Your sweet scent, my soul is baited into Your lure.

O that joy once tasted, everything else pales in comparison.
Let its print not leave my buds, so I may be careful to make it my motivation.

You seek me so I may see You, glorious is Your omnificent rule
To be loved and loved and loved by You, O most beautiful.

These senses then a foreshadowing of what’s to come inevitably, for these claimed to be true.
A manifestation of what’s truly here and now, it is then more that I shall, with great joy, wait on You.

2015: We Are Builders

Welcoming the upcoming year here in my parents’ newly constructed retirement house, which is definitely a work of art with great amounts of cost cuts (congrats Ma and Dad!). The first time I’ve been here, this place was far from tenable. It was then still in the backbreaking process of digging out the dirt, mixing and laying down the cement, setting up the roof, etc. Now we can stay and sleep here, although there are still some things left to be polished in the house… which is great news! Since it can only mean the house will get even better!

I believe, the same picture goes with our lives. We are building something and it also undergoes seasons and we naturally imbue it with our own values. Seasons and values have a way of molding our character. Here are how I see the two:

Seasons refer to periods of time, shifting natures through its course to teach lessons one may only grasp appropriately within. Our life’s seasons are a reality we are called to appreciate. Sadly we have a tendency to pervert seasons by rushing them. With this I would say that being single is truly a blessing (one must convince oneself… or else one is left for disappointment. Haha!).

Values refer to our core motivations, implicitly embedded in our day to day activities building its way to an unforeseen end. We know our values by where we invest the things we consider valuable (e.g., time, money, emotions, and thoughts). It’s easy to tell people your “ideal” values but I generally personally find it hard to stick and live by them.

The two should be leveraged hand in hand to allow for much joy. For example, if you’re in a relationship (season) and you find it impossible to make up and make time with your partner (value) then it’d be a disaster. But if you’re single, like me (too much self-incrimination), then you have the time to learn the things you ought to learn alone before including someone else in the equation.

 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

Upon reflecting on this idea, this verse stuck on me on how we can be great builders. Below are the “U”s and “I”s we may consider as builders:

Disclaimer: I’m no architect, nor an engineer. This post is just my attempt to provide an analogy of life. Also, most of the ideas here are taken from the church. I do hope this will find favor in your life.

1. Unfinished Houses – Irrevocable Past
“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…”

Abandoned in progress
Do you see something? @.@

Across my parents house is an unfinished building that stands. It’s been there for years with no work being done. The frame has already been laid but it’s no use given that it’s not yet capable to properly house individuals. No one wants an unfinished house. It’s a bad and sad investment, especially when you take into account the millions invested. When I take a peek on my past, I see it filled with Unfinished Houses driven mostly by my willful ignorance, more of which on the things one should value – Relationships (then I learned that the owner of the unfinished house had another one within the same village… it kinda suggests  something about living one’s life also).

let go.png
Sometimes it’s both wise and loving to just…

In literally the start of this year, I finally had the sense to throw things that are no longer necessary keeping (e.g., love letters). No amount of rationalization has given me good reason to hold onto them. If there’s one to define Irrevocable Past mistakes, it’s sunk cost. If one no longer finds any reason to hold on to something added by the negative influences it entails – One shall let go to progressively move forward.

2. Underground Foundations – Introspecting Concurrently

Leaning tower
Pardon my poor drawing… Influenced by Hanna Aurelio

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an example of faulty underground foundation. It wasn’t designed to be leaning to begin with but, because it laid a foundation too shallow for the structure of the tower, it eventually started doing so. What manifests is just a product of what lies beneath… our Underground Foundations. In our terms, we call it character. We can always put up a façade and pretend that there is only the good to be seen but many of us are subjected by the devious thoughts our degenerated minds tend to enjoy. What we do behind the lights and eyes are what build up character. If you’ve seen the recent Ms. Universe pageant, you would be amazed how their truest character manifest when their caught off guard (e.g., consistent humility by Mr. Host).

Goliath online
Image c/o Julius Hernandez. Bible Trivia: Goliath was the only one given the title “champion” in Scripture. I wonder what went on in the champ’s head that also led to his defeat.

In most of my introspections, there’s this Goliath Mentality that pervades and justifies obviously wrong decisions and actions I’ve made. We are just prideful beings. Honestly Introspecting Concurrently is a way to reveal faulty foundations, characterized by false motivations to prevent further stupidity from happening, since revelation is a step towards action. I’m really thankful to people who’ve shared their thoughts on how things should be and correct me whenever I tend to go the wrong way since their insights allow for better introspection.

3. Unfolding Plan – Invest for the Future

Blueprint
The plan before the act.

 “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…”

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans  8:28

In building a structure, there’s what they call a blue print. It’s a design used to set a vision and guide the workers where to place those materials for construction to beautifully complete the plan. In analogy, some of us have planned out how they will live their lives and tried to work their way through, but most of the time, reality does not go according to plan… but it definitely is within a much greater Unfolding Plan that works all things for good and “for the joy” of those who believe (Note: All means all and that includes the “bad” things happening. As the verse suggest “look to Jesus… who for the joy set before him endured the cross.” the plan for joy had to go through the painful process of the cross).

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.“ – 1 Timothy 4:8

Saitama
Talk about bodily training. Train til ya bald! – Saitama of One Punch Man

One way to see where a person is investing is by observing the obvious. If you see a buff person, you’d know this person is investing in health and physical appearance. According to the referred verse, if we want to wisely Invest for the Future, we should seek to prioritize godliness all the more since it’s beneficial to every matter. Our good looks will expire anyway so better invest in what’s eternal.

A lot has transpired since the start of this year and indeed God’s grace is astounding, emphasized with my appalling self. This year is indeed another milestone the LORD has blessed. Happy New Year guys and let’s hope for another best year to come! 😀 Let’s continue to build a better world for, whether we know it or not, We Are Builders! 😀

Contemplating November

november-birthdays-300x300

Month we reminisce souls long past gone,
drawn even more to the cross Thou had won.
Loathed by my consistent inconsistencies,
In rivalry with these fluctuating tendencies.

Conviction!
Of the sins presented in my introspection,
to personal accounts held for truth,
toward the goal Thou lead my foot.

Tread me to Thy desired terrains,
Where you make sinners, like I, to saints.
From loss of “good” to faith presents,
Thy sovereignty allows for such orchestrated incidents.

Glorious!
are Thou, O grace, beyond words enormous.
Allowing emergence of another dirt,
Thou prompt us to spiritual birth.

From the what ifs, what is, to what will be,
the future Thou secured already.
A fresh perspective on the things hoped for,
quickened by these moments and more.

Beautiful!
Are the ways on how Thou save a condemned soul,
the gatherings of Thy members recalling Thy fateful memoir.
Awed by these picturesque gifts revealed in Contemplating November.

Make it Count Juan

Bayan o Sarili
Definitely a must watch

Disclaimer: Most of what I blog are just personal realizations and does not reflect the standpoint of what community I belong to. I blog because it helps me remember these realizations whenever I get lost in the influences and distractions of what naturally enslaves me. I also blog that I may share my thoughts in the hopes that it would bring positive change in those who come across it.

“Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” – Proverbs 29:18

When I was studying, I never liked the idea of coming to school and learn about this academic subject “Philippine History”. I find it hard to swallow why we even have to know of the historic lives of our forefathers… add to the fact that I really have a hard time retaining details in my head. I just ask myself “why bother knowing? Is it that relevant to make the time and effort?” I’d be honest that I was part of the crowd wondering why Apolinario never stood up. Then I saw in social media that polio was the answer then I knew it was taught in school, I just forgot… probably since I find it hard to satisfy my question “is it relevant in this day and age?”

The movie Heneral Luna is an eye opener. History actually has its relevance. Despite the movie’s disclaimer that the story presented is not entirely based on facts, it’s becoming such hype and people are starting to hate the first president. Viewers begin to recognize the similarities between the issues of the past and current Philippine society. I’ve watched the movie twice. At first glance, I thought the theme was independence from foreign invaders. On second thought, I believe, and the protagonist made it obvious himself, it was really more of what we, as Filipinos, deal with internally.

“Mga kapatid, may mas malaking kalaban kaysa sa mga Amerikano… ang ating mga sarili.”
(Translation: Brethren, we have a bigger enemy than the Americans… it is ourselves.)

It’s very easy to relate with the movie since the negative environment portrayed is still evident in our society today. Apathetic citizens who would choose to live in their comfort zones than to live for something costly purposeful, Self-interest-motivated leaders who would corrupt and squander his own kin just to live a life of vanity, a dichotomized nation built in their regional pride resulting to this concept of crab mentality.

I’ve heard in our church that “100% of your issues is an effect of a leadership issue”, and I believe it to be true. It’s always an issue to lead oneself, one’s family, one’s community and even one’s nation. Based on the movie, Aguinaldo decided, in his pained ego, to execute the only general that really cared for his country… The only general that really cared. This then rippled to a series of defeat, generation after generation, making its way now causing people complain about why the president did what he did, a consequence of a single action a leader of a nation a century past made. But the reality is we, as individuals, would normally make the same mistake. Make decisions based on our selfish ego.

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” – Luke 16:10

“The Biggest room in this world is the room for improvement.” It’s easy to see flaws… but are we just going to grumble about them and not do anything? Relive the past and imagine as if we can change it? Or we’d think about… How are we going to contribute? What necessary changes are we willing to make as individuals? We all know it all starts working out from there. It starts even with the slightest of actions we dare commit to make. To start and lead ourselves and support those who have authority over us in our own simple way… even to pray.

It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” – Daniel 2:21

I find the movie to be timely in raising political awareness of our countrymen, not to mention suggestive for a presidential candidate. It calls for a leader who would do what’s radically necessary to unite and uplift the lives of those around him. Elections is coming and we have the capacity to shape the future of our beloved country. We may have one vote… but If you really care, register, vote wisely and make sure you’d Make it Count Juan.

Cross in Accounting – Reversing Entries

Brings me back to college.
Takes me back to college.

Accounting is one of the most petrified subjects in college. I’d hear people yapping about it, not only in school but, almost everywhere. Aaaaand, I’m an Accounting graduate (not even sure why anymore) but that’s not the point of this entry. The point lies in seeing through one of the overlooked academic lessons in that field.

In Accounting, there’s this concept they call “Reversing Entries” which generally provides for the following flow:

  1. Enter a counter entry
  2. Negate the effect of account being countered
  3. Close the account
  4. Represent the reversed entry

Earlier today, the pastor preached on the topic “Suffering Servant” found in Isaiah 53. It’s about a prophecy, at the time of writing, of this God becoming man who is to bear the following for us:

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
Surely he has borne our griefs

    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:1,4-5

Upon hearing the message, it reminded me of the reversing entries. Jesus, the Son of God, entered the physical realm in the view of negating the effects of the sins (eternal separation from God) of those who believed, closing the deal by taking their place and acting as their blameless representative to the Father.

That one unparalleled story we’re so desensitized about that we tend to overlook in our daily lives.

Summarizing the text

I Hope this post helped you have a brief understanding on reversing entries and, moreover, on the reversal made on the cross.

You may find the amazing preaching in this link! Also, you may want to check “Big Deal, Closed Deal” for a relevant post. 🙂

Enjoy and have an amazing week ahead! 😀