Saturday, May 26, 2012

Our Daily Bread: Inspiration For All Seasons

May 26-June 1

I wrote this in 2005. This is the first publication

A story is told about a thirteen-year old boy who was dying. On his deathbed he gave Charles a sheaf of papers filled with writings on both sides. “I want you to give this to my mom and dad,” he said. “It’s a list of all the fun we had, all the times we laughed.”
            Years went by. Then one day, Charles tried to do his own ‘joy list’ but faced a blank wall. Dave McCasland continues, “But as he began looking each day for the moments of laughter, satisfaction and joy, his list began to grow.”

            That was just one of the hundreds of stories in the 2005 Our Daily Bread. Year after year, this book continues to move, comfort, nourish and renew the lives of thousands. Another illustration of the joy of spreading God’s word is the tale of the famed violinist Fritz Kreisler. He kept giving away all his earnings so that when he beheld the most beautiful violin he ever saw, was too broke too buy it. It took him quite some time to come up with enough money to buy it but by then, a collector had already beaten him to it. He was crestfallen when the collector refused to sell it to him. Then he asked impulsively, “Could I play the instrument once more before it is confined to silence?”

            The collector agreed, and felt an inexplicable happiness upon hearing the sweet music that filled his house. “I have no right to keep that to myself!” he cried. “It’s yours Mr. Kreisler! Take it to the world and let people hear it!”

            Our Daily Bread is brimming with inspiring prose and poetry celebrating Christ’s wonders in transforming lives. “Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so much to one Man!” as Richard De Haan eloquently proclaims. The evangelist Henry Moorhouse shares with us this priceless insight. “I once bought a typewriter that was shipped mistakenly to another man named Henry Moorhouse at a different address. If John 3:16 had said that God loved Henry Moorhouse, I could have thought it meant the other Henry Moorhouse. But since it says whoever, there can be no mistakes.”

         Some people have deliberately avoided this book and other works of similar nature under the erroneous assumption that it is exclusively for Born-Again folks. A broadened perspective would refute this of course. Christianity is essentially a covenanting process with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the timeless wisdom of the Scriptures. Whether one is a Catholic, Adventist, Baptist, Jehovah’s Witness or belonging to any denomination within the matrix of Christendom, one’s beliefs and aspirations revolves around the spiritual union with the word made flesh who died and resurrected to save mankind. This central focus subsumes parochial differences in doctrines and dogmas, providing an outlook that is worthy for one who worships an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Creator who dwells in the realm of the infinite.

            Salvation – like Love, compassion, Hope, Perserverance, Forgiveness, Humility and all the eternal truths – knows no limits. Dave Egner illustrates this with the story about a wise Cherokee Indian chief imparting the lessons of life to his grandson. “It’s like we have two wolves inside of us. One is good, the other is bad. Both demand our obedience.”

            The boy asked, “Which one wins?”

            The chief said, “The one we feed.”

            It is easier to become a congressman than a true Christian. That ‘God works in mysterious ways’ has become an all-purpose cliché, a maxim taken for granted the meaning of which remaining unknown, ignored, or made to fit self-serving perceptions. A complete surrender to Jesus demands more purifying sacrifices anyone can ever imagine – but at the same time being filled with an inexplicable sense of joy and ‘peace beyond understanding’. Herb Vander Lugt tells about a young scholar named William Craig Lane. Lane recalled the turning point of his life: “I came to the end of my rope and cried out to God. I cried out all the bitterness and anger that was within me – and felt this tremendous infusion of joy, and God became at the moment a living reality in my life – a reality that has never left me.”

            Few things are more powerful than a personal testimony. Dave Brannon’s 17 year-old daughter Melissa died, and despite having fallen in the abyss of pain and suffering, he was still able to witness: “God’s unfathomable plan for the universe and His redemptive work continue, and we must honor our loved ones by holding on to His hands. We don’t understand, but we must still trust God as we await the great reunion He has planned for us.” 1 Thessalonians says it all: “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout…And the dead in Christ will rise first.”

            Mart De Haan submits a penetrating analysis of how Paul and Silas were able to ‘fight the good fight’ in the face of overwhelming agonies and torments: “They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they had a sense of mission. They were motivated by a desire to obey God and spread the message of Christ.” Paul’s testament of rock solid faith is reflected in Acts 20:24, “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy.” His ‘fight’ wasn’t ‘good’ – it was great.

            A beautiful life is worth a thousand sermons. Vernon Ground tells about the time Mahatma Gandhi was asked to put his message into a single statement. The Great Soul said simply, “My life is my message.” David Roper carries this point further: The portrait of Jesus with your humble, tranquil presence in the face of grievous wrong is worth many words on the subject. Some may see the life of Jesus revealed in you and long to enter into that life.”

            Throughout this volume are unforgettable portraits of Sir Winston Churchill, Gen. George Patton, TV icon Fred Rogers, Nobel prize winner John Nash, Apollo XV astronaut James Irwin, Olympic gold medalist Eric Liddell, St. Philip Neri, Dwight Moody, Martin Luther, Kondrad Adenauer, William Jennings Bryan, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton to name some.

            And filling it’s pages are hundreds of timeless Biblical passages and uplifting poems, including this one by Baynard Fox: “I’ll tell the world how Jesus saved me/ And how he gave me a life brand new;/ And I know that if you trust Him/ That all He gave me He’ll give to you.”
            In a seeming contradiction in terms, the best way to appreciate this devotional is to not treat it as such. One who reads it at random will inevitably find himself jumping from to page, witnessing for himself that the days of miracles have not passed.

            And that God is mightier and more loving than ever.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19-25

I can relate to the irreverent, maverick, hippy cowboy character of Robin Padilla in Di Na Natuto. Sharon Cuneta plays one of their farm cowherders, so naturally, they have horseback riding moments for the fans. His brother (Edu Manzano) tried to poison their father the governor (Subas Herrero), and to protect the secret that he's not a true son, kidnaps Sharon and kills her mother (Nida Blanca). Robin's sidekick is Niño Muhlach whose dad is Subas' loyal friend Amado Cortez. It was shot in the lahar wastelands of Pampanga, exactly where I was just passing through that moment, nearly midnight on the last week of January 2012. The DVD ended while the bus was traversing the slithering, intestine-like mountainside road to Olongapo

Sometimes I can sense what others are thinking, sometimes it doesn't work. How do you develop telepathic consistency? That was my question to Nomer Lasala when he was guest on Heard On Thursdays on Monster Radio RX 93.1. It was read by talk show host Rafael Reyes last Jan 5. Nomer is a telepath, like Charles Xavier in X-Men and Edward Cullen in Twilight. He showcases his telepathic powers in Mind Master on GMA-7. Dennis Trillo was host and Nomer read the mind of Aljur Abrenica on the last episode I saw. Nomer's advice was to meditate more regularly, be more receptive to your intuition. Practice makes perfect. Also to read the classic book Silva Mind Control Method by Jose Silva. I actually have a copy but it was destroyed during Ondoy. Psi powers are real. Telepathy is cool. But it's always spooky when somebody else reads your mind

By God's grace, I won a myPhone smartphone from a text contest. The show was the radio-TV call-in counseling program Usapang Kapatid, hosted by Fr. Nono, SJ, and Sr. Bubbles (11pm, Saturdays, DZMM Teleradyo) The question was "What does Easter mean to you?" 3 answers will be chosen among the text replies, prize is phone. That was April 15, and the winners were announced and read on air April 22. Here is my entry, word for word: I'm in a transition period to a different line of career, and I don't think it's a coincidence that it's happening during Easter season. It's a growth process, complete with growing pains, like the passion of calvary. At the same time, 'tis the season for moving on, for letting go of the past. Christ rose from death for our salvation, and I believe it also symbolizes the gift of being given a second chance. Easter, for me, is a new beginning.

Look at that: kids playing on a haystack in a field. Such a beautiful sight! I love children. There is a special joy in watching them play, free from the cares of the world and the dark side of adults. I took this photo in Tanza,Cavite last March. There are lots of open spaces too, like Smallville

I first read about Chuck Colson in a mid-2k Time list of America's most influential religious leaders. Top of the charts was Rick Warren, author of one the bestselling books of all time: The Purpose Driven Life. Chuck was key adviser to the President during Watergate. Nixon resigned, and he went to jail. But in prison, Chuck found Jesus and became a Christian. He founded Prison Fellowship, spreading the Good News to those in the abyss of despair. Ninoy Aquino, in his unforgettable appearance on The 700 Club, told Pat Roberts how he first thought that Colson was a phony. Then on a flight during his Boston exile, Ninoy found himself next to Chuck, and they began talking. Ninoy then realized that Colson was sincere. I next heard about Chuck last week as a guest in Haven Today, hosted by Charles Morris, the local telecast of which I listen to every night (9pm, weeknights, 702 DZAS) Then, in the April 23 episode, I was a bit sad when Charles said that Chuck had just died. Chuck was preparing for a talk for Prison Fellowship when he had a brain hemorrhage. On that episode, as a tribute, Charles played a conversation between Chuck and Jack Abrams, the controversial Washington lobbyist who is in prison. Chuck was a Christian, Jack was a Jew, and it was inspiring how the love of God, and the love FOR God, breaks boundaries. It's priceless comfort to know that, whatever happens to you, even if the whole word condemns you for whatever reason, justified or not, there is still Someone who will accept you and call you His own, if only you will let Him

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 12-18

A person, first and foremost, is a spirit. What happens to him is in accordance with his own spiritual path, which is perfect, even if it's a tragedy in this world. This was the answer of angel guru Noynoy Ozaeta to my question on why, despite having their own angels, kids die in freak accidents. Perhaps this explains why bad things happen to good people

I was in Antipolo when I was kid. I've lived in various places since then. I remember I almost almost fell off a cliff in Siniloan, Laguna and was chased by a giant goose in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. Just recently, I got my free Coke in Lubao, Pampanga during the Coca-Cola blowout. Thank you Mr. President For Happiness! But Manila is always special. Manila is where I first fell in love, where my heart was broken into a thousand pieces, the kind of pain when living seemed pointless. But Manila is also where I crawled back, got up, recovered and was able to move on again with my life

I used to work for a Manila-based newspaper doing special reports. On March 30, 2012, payday, I was informed by HR that I was fired. Just like that, no reason given. My salary was canceled and the backpay have been dismissed. I'm sure they would say that my writing sucks and that I haven't submitted my interview transcripts, which I was finishing when I was kicked away without even the courtesy of a prior notice. The truth is: the humorless and domineering head of the special reports team got rid of me because she knows I'm the only one who's not afraid of her. Even the publisher and the chief editor, whom I'm really close to, are submissive to her, impressed by her resume but blind to her abuse of power. This is office politics at its worst, with a work place under a culture of fear and intimidation. A company that encourages bullying does not deserve loyalty, and power trippers doesn't deserve respect

Abraham Lincoln inspires me a lot. Me and President Obama and countless others throughout the generations. Abe was one of the best leaders in the history of civilization and one of the greatest men the world has ever known. But the road was rocky. Rocky road! He lost the elections for vice president, senator, congressman. His first wife died. His son died. He suffered a nervous breakdown. His critics attacked him viciously. But he never gave up. He never surrendered. He overcame his self-doubts. He refused to think of himself as a failure 

I get a bit emotional when I think of Sylvester Stallone. So many times he has faced the most painful thing in the world: rejection. There was a time when it seemed that nobody believes in him anymore, that he has no hope of ever achieving his dreams. It's bad enough that a lot of film producers rejected his script for Rocky. Worse, they called him names and even insulted his dream of becoming a movie actor. But his vision for his desired future was crystal-clear, palpable and compelling: he will direct and play the role of Rocky Balboa, so he needs to find a producer.  That will establish his career and lift him out of poverty and the psychological hell of uncertainty. That will be the breakthrough that will change his life 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

May 5-11

As a writer, I appreciate brevity. Yes. So did the Athenians of Ancient Greece. Philip of Macedonia, father of Alexander The Great, told them: "If we capture your city, we'll burn it!" The king sent a one-word reply: "If."

A young boy as trying to lift a boulder but it was too heavy. He told his father he was using ALL his strength. "No," his father smiled, "because you haven't asked me to help you yet."

Huggybear loves Jose Mari Chan. My favorite Filipino Christmas song of all time is A Perfect Christmas. My favorite Filipino song of all time is Constant Change. Whenever I hear A Love To Last A Lifetime, I always think about my parents. The music of Jose Mari Chan is in my heart and in my soul. See the videos

Truth be told, the average time I spend on Facebook (when I go online) is 5 to 10 minutes. Max

I tried to stop a truck racing towards me like that scene in I Am Number Four