Wednesday, September 15, 2010

PLUMBLINE: Just Kidding

Whenever I hear the word joke, I am always reminded of my very good friend Apit. His presence and his punch lines have become a part of our barkadahan. Without him and his jokes, our drinking sessions may lead to madness and mayhem as we have a penchant for ugly debates. If not, it may end up like a scene straight from an embarrassing melodrama. It is no wonder that when he is not around, it is not uncommon to hear “O hain si Apit? Gare baga seryoso kita.” His jokes have become legendary that there are times we would share his jokes as if he was the one cracking them. Pit, I have to give you a copy of this issue. For this you owe me a bucket.

One experience that Apit and I shared that I cannot and will never forget is during the typhoon Reming. Before the typhoon had its landfall in Catanduanes, I went to borrow some DVD’s from Apit, so I had something to do once the typhoon hit Albay. In the end my plan bombed as I ended up spending the night at his house. We watched six movies straight in a row with only a few blinks of our eyes in between them. As usual, we put our own twists on the movies, we copied the actors’ performances, and we ridiculed the acting and the costumes. We really had a blast.

The morning after our movie marathon, his mother who happens to be a respected professor in the university woke us up. She was panicking when she told us that Reming had landed in Catanduanes. Not for long, the wind became strong and it gradually increased as the minutes ticked by. Heavy rain poured. In no time, Legazpi was submerged in water. However, we remained as jolly as we were before Reming came, we did not let it stop us from cracking jokes. We even found ourselves laughing at the view from outside the windows. We seemed to be enjoying ourselves as the typhoon ravaged the city.

Friday, the day after the typhoon, we decided to get a glimpse of the destruction. I expected it since the typhoon was not ordinary. What I did not expect was the destruction was worst than I expected. I saw many houses that were totally wrecked, I walked on cakes of mud just to reach home, and I witnessed dead bodies hoisted from under piles of ruins. One barangay, Padang, was buried. The experience was chilling that I realized that the typhoon was no joke.

Days after the typhoon, aircrafts hovered above Albay. Trucks loaded with relief goods made the roads busy. Help from all over the world showered the city and the rest of the Bicol Region.

One thing that struck me most was that the smile I used to see on people’s faces was gone. They had forgotten to laugh. Nature stopped kidding and so did the people.

Like the jokes of my friend Apit, typhoon Reming lingers in my mind. It is so hard to forget, but it is too evil to be missed. If anyone sees it as a joke, it is a joke seriously meant.

Several months later, the smile on people’s faces has returned. People are smiling and laughing again. I guess that it is the love and the good values people shared to survive that have brought back the laughters.

Jokes will never fade. They will always bring back the smiles and the laughter. If we think of the typhoon now, we should smile not because it is funny, but because it has brought the Bicolanos together.

As the merry month of May looms ahead of us, we have yet another reason to smile and to laugh. The elections are here again. We have once again the time to laugh at the candidates as they dance onstage and as they lie in their political ads. At least, these politicians are giving us a reason to joke.

I just wish that Reming carried with her these politicians when she left.

Just kidding!

(This work has been first published in a school paper of which I was the editor in chief then.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Defense of "What This World Needs" by Casting Crowns

As the song leads to some thought of Christian liberalism and of Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) disobedience, the mark of which the song really wanted to express is nonetheless is shelve out of context. I accept that this song bears several contrasting or should I say controversial verses that most Christians would really react. Many asks of its real purpose by the implications of the verses "just get out of the way" from the spoken part of the song and the "we're slowing it down" lines.

From Youtube's comments down to some youth Christian forum, the debates of whether the song still holds biblical truths or not has created confusion. In my own opinion, by taking the song into context and in analogy to reality, we can certainly get what it really meant. So, for it to be expounded we need to put in the lyrics and analyze it by verses or by lines whichever is mere applicable. But before that let me quote the Great Commission:

18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

In this light we can create analogy.

What this world needs
Is not another one hit wonder with an axe to grind
Another two bit politician peddling lies
Another three ring circus society
What this world needs
Is not another sign waving super saint that's better than you
Another ear pleasing candy man afraid of the truth
Another prophet in an Armani suit

The increasing politicking in the frames of religion is what this verse is all about. Every year, we watch televangelists that are famous. We tend to listen to them and spend our time with it that having s second reading the Bible and investigate. We are very much keen of who's in now and who has the more advanced and effective evangelistic tactics than just simply going to the simpler way and more Jesus way of proclaiming the gospel. We go beyond just what the Bible suggest we do just to satisfy philosophical theories or psychological inclinations that we know are plain humanistic in nature. We tend to discredit the power of the Holy Spirit by employing our skills, our charisma, or our intelligence - yet we thought we are just obeying the great commission.

What this world needs
Is for us to care more about the inside than the outside
Have we become so blind that we can't see
God's gotta change her heart before He changes her shirt
What this world needs
Is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance
Blending in so well that people can't see the difference
And it's the difference that sets the world free

In my observation, first in the local churches is that, young people are very much after the outward results of their actions rather than the inward implications of the actions of God. This is what the Christian adults have been teaching the young people in my local. They were conditioned to conceal their hearts to protect it from attacks without thinking that God himself protects the heart if we only know where to put God in our lives. We are missing the marks because we are so busy thinking about how we will be able to look or to act with freedom yet accordingly.

People aren't confused by the gospel, They're confused by us.
Jesus is the only way to God but we are not the only way to Jesus
This world doesn't need my tie, my hoodie, My denomination, or my translation of the bible
They just need Jesus
We can be passionate about what we believe
but we can't strap purselves to the gospels
Because we're slowing it down.
Jesus is going to save the world, but maybe the best thing we can do
Is just get out of the way.

At present, we can hear so many sermons and interpretations of the Bible. Some claim that they are Churches of Christ yet does not recognize His deity. They claim they are the only way to salvation thereby discrediting Christ as the only savior. We tend to present our doctrinal views of the Bible rather than letting people know God in its simplest, more understandable way - the way God wanted to be known. THE BIBLE CLEARLY WANTS THE RELATIONSHIP TO GOD BE RESTORED! We are missing this. By removing ourselves from the picture and bringing only the goodness and sovereignty of God, "we get out of the way."

The Great Commission simply says of the standard and the best process of using the "authority" not given to us but only given to the One who sent us. There are no spins or tricks in Matthew 28:16-20. The command is a direct command and everything that a Christian should do is already there. No ornaments, because sometimes, the decorations are what makes it confusing.

Finally, the chorus:

What this world needs is a Savior who will rescue
A Spirit who will lead
A Father who will love them in their time of need
A Savior who will rescue
A Spirit who will lead
A Father who will love
That's what this world needs

... this sums it all.

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