Featured

My Vocation

My vocation has become clearer as the years go by: to study the unchanging God without something else to do, some pragmatic reason or result. This is what I feel most called to do: simply enjoy the study of God – not write about it, not view it in relation to its political residue or imagine that my opinions will have some visible  social effect. The joy of inquiry into God is a sufficient end in itself, not only as a means to some practical consequence.

Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, p. 95

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

Eye more the spiritual and eternal

“Eye more, mind more, and lay to heart more the spiritual and eternal workings of God in your souls than the external providences of God in the world.” (Thomas Brooks)

I’m presently reading Thomas Brooks’ sermon “The Pastor’s Legacies” which is included in Sermons of the Great Ejection. Here’s a sobering thought: we’re so concerned about earthly health and wealth, not realizing that it’s our spiritual prosperity which is vastly more important, as the state of our character or holiness is one we’ll carry into and throughout eternity. Not that health and wealth have no importance at all, but the fact remains that earthly treasures are liable to be corrupted by moth and rust (Matthew 6:19) and our flesh will someday fail (Psalm 73:26). To be sure, we ought to be good stewards of everything entrusted to us, including our health and our wealth. But first things first: conformity of our character to the Lord Jesus Christ’s. My understanding is all true believers will be with the Lord someday and will be with him forever, but some will be nearer to him than others and will be able to enjoy his love and his presence more than others because in the here and now they’ve striven to be holy with all their might. “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

“All the motions of God within you are steps to eternity, and every soul shall be blessed or cursed, saved or lost to all eternity, not according to outward dispensations, but according to the inward operations of God in your souls.” (Thomas Brooks)

(Photo by Perchek Industrie on Unsplash)

Condemnation and Confidence

A couple of Saturdays ago, I gave a devotional on 1 John 3:19-24 to the Men’s group of my local church. Here’s the gist of it.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him…” (1 John 3:18, 19 ESV)

One of the benefits of living a life of love – practicing the truth instead of just talking about it – is that we reassure our hearts that we really really belong to God, that we’re really Christians. But if we don’t live a life of truth and love, a sense of condemnation comes over us: our hearts condemn us and our spiritual life suffers. Continue reading “Condemnation and Confidence”

The Misery of the Rich

My first sermon in 2020! Given during the Ikthus East-Bacolod City Midweek Service, January 1, 2020.

James 5:1-6 ESV

[1] Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. [2] Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. [3] Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. [4] Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. [5] You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. [6] You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. Continue reading “The Misery of the Rich”

Books Read in 2019

I should have posted this before 2019 ended but I was quite busy. At any rate, here they are:

January
– JONATHAN EDWARDS: PURSUING HOLINESS IN THE LORD (edited by T.M. Moore)
– Robert Maurer’s ONE SMALL STEP CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
– Babineux, et al. FAIL FAST, FAIL OFTEN
– Binnings’ THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIMARY OBLIGATION

March
– Peterson’s THE JESUS WAY

April
– Duriez’ C.S. LEWIS
– Markos’ ATHEISM ON TRIAL

May
– Galli’s BARTH

June
– Doriani’s WORK

July
– NEVER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE
– C. Newport’s DIGITAL MINIMALISM

August
– Calvin’s SERMONS ON EPHESIANS
– Fletcher’s CHRIST MANIFESTED
– I. Murray’s LIFE OF MARTYN-LLOYD JONES
– Frame’s APOLOGETICS
– Hauwerwas’ THE WORK OF THEOLOGY

September
– LIVING LIFE BACKWARDS

October
– Goodwin’s CHRIST’S HEART FOR SINNERS

November
– J.K.A. Smith’s YOU ARE WHAT YOU LOVE

December
– Mark Ward’s AUTHORIZED: THE USE AND MISUSE OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE

I’m also almost done with Flavel’s CHRIST KNOCKING AT THE DOOR OF SINNERS and Needham’s THE TRIUMPH OF GRACE, but I haven’t been able to finish them before 2020 arrived. Anyway, this 2020 happy reading to one and all!

Second Thoughts

I’m having second thoughts about daily blogging. Maybe this is the result of reading Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, from which I’m learning a lot. I want to have less to do not only with social media but with computer devices. I want to recover the freedom I’ve lost as a result of too much interaction with digital devices. I want to be focused while reading a book instead of being distracted by the thought that I should blog about this right now. So maybe I’ll blog once a week instead. Now that was fast!

Songwriting by the pool

My sister-in-law and her husband were here in Bacolod from Canada for a vacation. My wife and I, together with other relatives, took them to a beautiful subdivision in Dumaguete (around 5 hours drive from Bacolod) which had a swimming pool. While they swam in the pool, I took out my notebook and pen, strummed chords on my Yamaha guitarlele, and started writing a song.

My sister-in-law came near. She seemed fascinated. She told me later that it was the first time she saw the process of songwriting unfolding before her eyes. She was impressed by how easy it was for me to do what I was doing. The words and music seemed to just flow out of my head.

I don’t claim to be a great songwriter. But what she said made me realize that we tend to take our natural gifts for granted because we find the things we’re gifted at easy to do. But those who don’t have our gifts find what we do miraculous!

Moral of the story: Don’t take your gifts for granted. Be thankful for them and use them to bless others.

The worries of this life

I was sound asleep when I suddenly felt pain in my chest. It was just for a split second. I don’t know exactly how to describe it. It was like somebody gave me a quick strong pinch. Anyway, my wife who is a doctor checked my blood pressure and oxygen level. She said I was okay and told me to relax. But of course I couldn’t; I was worried.

Then this verse just popped into my head: “But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19)

The realization dawned on me that I’ve been feeling a bit stressed lately and I haven’t been meditating on God’s Word as much as I should because I’ve been spending too much time watching Seth Godin interviews on YouTube and reading books like Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Work Week. The desire for more success and more wealth than what I already have was eroding my sense of peace and contentment. I didn’t want to miss out on all the success and wealth I could have if only I could really grasp and apply what these gurus had to teach!

Then I remembered another verse: “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.” (Psalm 119:36) That’s the antidote! There’s more to life than money. Money isn’t everything. After all, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth.” True, these may sound like cliches; but in circumstances like mine, they strike me as fresh and meaningful.

Selfish blogging?

Yesterday I said I’ll try blogging daily again. The question of course is, “What should I blog about?” Since my blog is about self-improvement (among others) in terms of clarifying my thoughts regarding things that interest me, it follows that I should blog about things that interest me. I hope this doesn’t come across to readers of this blog as being selfish. Of course, I care about readers of this blog, but, paradoxically, one way I care for them is simply to be true to my purpose. I assume some people read my blog because they find what I have to say interesting, and if ever that’s true it’s because I myself find the topics I write about interesting.

In any event, per Seth’s advice, one should blog daily even if no one else reads your blog because of the personal benefits one gets from the activity. Thankfully, some do read what I have to say; but, candidly, that’s more of a great by-product than the primary goal.

Year-end reflections on blogging

I haven’t blogged for a while. For some reason, I just grew weary of blogging. It didn’t help that the keyboards I use with my iPad Pro often don’t work. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and it’s frustrating enough to make me put blogging aside.

Recently, I read again what Seth Godin had to say about blogging. Blog (even if no one else reads your blog) because it does something for you. It’s a way to improve oneself. Blogging helps to clarify your thoughts about things you’re interested in. It helps you generate ideas and sharpen them. So blog everyday.

So here I am again giving it another try. I preach in my church once in a while and I realize that blogging serves as a way of preparing for the time I actually get to stand in the pulpit. That alone should be enough to motivate me to blog everyday.

Also, I get to hone my thinking and writing skills. I need to do this regularly even if only for the sake of my law practice. And I get to share thoughts that may benefit those who get to read them. The poems I post here get a few likes now and then by people who are real poets, and I find that encouraging.

Seth says he blogs without bothering to check the stats. I resonate with that. Just blog. Everyday. Because it´s good for you. It helps you even if no one else reads your blog. So here I go again. I don´t know how long I´ll be able to keep this up, but there´s no harm in trying again.