Blog

A Simple Yes or No

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Let’s not say
anything
we don’t
mean.
We only make
things
worse
when we lay down
a smoke screen
of
pious talk,
saying,
“I’ll pray for you,”
and never
doing it,
or saying,
“God be with you,”
and not
meaning it.
We don’t make
our words
true
by embellishing them
with
religious lace.
In making our speech sound
more
religious
it becomes
less
true.
When we manipulate
our words
to get
our own way,
we go

wrong.

 

 

Based on The Message; Matthew 5: 33-37

Photo: New Year’s Eve Filipino sky

Christmas laid bare

PUBhope in the storm

Photo: Hope in the storm

This year, for reasons both within and beyond our control, we haven’t hung up a single Christmas decoration. It’s surprisingly liberating!

There’s an unexpected benefit from these circumstances. With the clutter, the glitz, the glamour, the tinsel gone, I can see who is in the room and who is not.

Or in the stable, to be more specific. The occupants: this precious, new family; the calming (if smelly) companionship of these animals. The visitors: a bunch of salt of the earth, behind the scenes folks, these shepherds – the street sweepers, factory workers, bus / jeepney drivers of our world – in a state of dazed shock after their very own angelic live hillside show.

And that’s it.

No, razzmatazz, VIP three kings-wisemen delegation. They come much later to another location.

The family, the shepherds, the animals.

This is where and with whom God chooses to make His entrance.

Let’s not miss it.

The blood, the sweat, the straw, the dung.

There’s something else here.

Hope.

Hope which has absolutely nothing to do with anticipation triggered by the glitter and shimmer of hanging ornaments, or piles of boxes.
No, this is hope of something beyond imagining, charged by the actuality of something that has already happened: the Divine Personified stepping into the room, our room, into our reality, our muck and mess.

Hope is here.

Merry Christmas!

Who we say we are

tea

What do you think of when looking at this picture?

(Besides it being “a shouting teabag”, as an observant friend pointed out.)

 

It’s one of those feel good photos, isn’t it!

 

Appearances can be so very deceiving.

 

You want to know the truth behind this shot? An hour or so earlier, I was striding out of the house in a fury of despair. Despite my Englishness, I had no thought of getting a cup of tea at that moment. I just needed to exit before exploding.

 

It was a curious sensation pressing “post” to share the picture on my Facebook wall. I was intentionally crossing a line, acutely aware of conscious deception: a deliberate choice to present an illusion, an implied reality. I had put on my mask.

 

My fake subliminal message: I am a cool person who totally knows how to make the most out of life.

 

My excuse? I tell myself that folks will see through any self-promoting propaganda. After all, they must know I’m just a fellow human being!

 

Indeed, perhaps the biggest problem with all this feel good photography, is not deceiving others, but rather deluding ourselves.

 

Who we say we are, is often who we wish we were.

 

Lord, help us to know when

and how

to take off our masks.

Faith Hope Love (I): Faith

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There’s the awesome three-some-ness, that ‘holy trinity’ of

Faith

Hope

Love

As sides of a triangle, as legs of a stool, they belong together.

Faith

Hope

Love

 

Yet each is magnificently unique; in that sense, of course, the comparison with sides of a triangle and legs of a stool do them utter injustice.

Let’s sneak a peek into faith first…

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”

  • The Message; Hebrews 11:1

Faith is foundational. A solid bedrock on which to build our lives. Designed to withstand shaking. And giving the value of eternity to all life resting on it.

Faith helps us make some sense of life. Like a pair of glasses, it brings into focus what would otherwise be a disconcerting blur.

“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.”

  • The Message; Hebrews 11: 6

Faith, our faith, also in a sense, helps God. Even when it’s a tiny smidgen of a thing, it gives him access to us. And us access to him.

Faith is a doorway.

Indeed, faith has very little to do with quantity, and everything to do with quality.

That sentence in Hebrews 11:6 contains the universe-exploding, life-changing “and that he cares”! The significance of the faith we’re talking about here is that it’s not only a matter of believing the Ultimate Divine Being exists, but also of having an inkling who he is, what he is like.

Faith assures:

Here is God

Who loves you.

 

 

Real Food

coconut

Have you noticed how focusing on the wrong things means we get sidetracked, as in led down the wrong path in our life’s journey? Worst case scenario we lose our way, at best we waste time. Either way, harm is involved…

 

In the context of weight and nutrition, we are now coming to the realization that it’s far better – and more enjoyable – to drop our obsession about losing or gaining weight, and focus instead on healthy eating. The calorie fixation swallowed our attention whole, and oversimplified, if not totally misled, our understanding of the human body. Nutrition was sacrificed on the calorie counting altar as we desperately sought the holy grail of the perfect body weight. Now science and common sense are coming to the rescue as we turn our backs on our processed fake food dependency, and embrace the goodness and tastes of Real Food.

 

By the way, a certain Dr Hyman, has a lot of good stuff to say about this. For example: http://drhyman.com/blog/2015/05/15/want-to-burn-fat-then-eat-more-not-less-food/

 

And what might all of this be hinting at in terms of our souls, our spirits, our inner lives?

 

Just as in the rush of fast food consumption I was inadvertently neglecting my physical health, am I careering through my life in fifth gear without a moment of good ol’ honest reflection?

 

Or is the root problem not speed, but distraction? I fill my waking hours with the junk food of activities and entertainment; so preoccupied, I come nowhere near asking a single candid question…

 

It just might be that I have been running away from facing the truth of my utter need.

 

The good news is that it takes recognizing the bad news of our internal poverty to see the good news of Help right there for us.

 

“You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.”

  • The Message; Luke 6: 20, 21

 

 

Loss

Hunger

Tears

 

Their reality demands Real Food.

Called to Care

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Hanging around with friends after a church service recently, and I was having a good ol’ rant about current societal evils. Boy oh boy, it felt good to vent.

 

But there was a hollow ring to that satisfaction. And it didn’t take much reflection to figure out why. I felt like one of those sqibs, a piddly little firework that goes, hiss, then a pathetic pop. Followed by… an anticlimactic nothing. Nada. Niets.

 

In my younger days, we joined Amnesty International and wrote letters to the offending government. These days we fume our outrage via social media.

 

But then what? Hiss. Pop. Nothing.

 

Maybe before I do right, I need to be right. I mean, do I actually CARE?

 

Because, if I truly cared, wouldn’t I DO something?

 

Jesus was saying to the crowd who came to listen, who came for answers:

“You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.”

Luke 6:43-45 

 

Then it’s not what I write either – in this blog, on my Facebook wall – that makes me who I am?

 

It’s so easy to have a platform where we express ourselves, but I suspect we have totally swallowed the ‘alternative truth’: what I say I am, I am.

In the meantime, what has happened to the true me? Gone out to lunch while the PR and Marketing guys are working overtime? So impressed by the sales pitch, that I’ve inadvertently taken it on as my ‘true identity’?

I need to get this sorted, if only because I don’t want to be spouting emptiness, hypocrisy.

 

Again: Do I really care?

 

Dear God, give me Your heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Apple blossom in Mum’s garden, May 2017

When a foreigner shows me up

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“Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: ‘I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.’”
Luke 7: 9-10

The Roman captain was a friend to the Jewish community, and he had a far more solid trust in God than their own leaders did.

Maybe it’s the one who we see as the outsider, who is actually God’s insider. May such people make us jealous, so that we turn back to God and become as children again.

 

 

Photo: Manila sunset August 15, 2017