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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

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Chastisement

Sorrow – painful sorrow –
fills my long and gloomy days.
Life’s a mixture of deep sadness
and unexpected grace.

The Lord is good and has to me
brought blessing from my pain.
But tears are my sad portion still;
they wash not sin’s deep stain.

Because I chose to disobey
and rebel in my youth,
to my life’s end I’ll always bear
the burden of this truth:

“Man reapeth what he soweth,
forgiven tho’ he be;
God loveth and chastiseth
that we may be holy!”

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Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)

“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)

INTRODUCTION

This is the culmination of the series of messages given during the previous Sundays regarding the life of Joseph. The series is entitled Grace in Disguise. The message this morning is Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. Even so, this is still about grace in disguise. But this time, since we are now at the end of the story of Joseph, this is now about the unveiling of the disguise, and the revealing of the grace which was there all along from the very beginning of Joseph’s ordeal. Continue reading “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God”

The end God has in mind …

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

The end God has in mind regarding our sufferings is not just our personal conformity to Christ, but also the conformity of the whole church to Christ, so that all of God’s people will be fit to enjoy fellowship with God forever. It is one thing to be entitled to eternal life; it is another thing to be fit for it. We therefore suffer for the sake of the church (those who are already in it, as well as those who will someday be in it). We die that others may live; but if they live, we live too, in the sense that we all become fit to enjoy the presence of a holy God. Holiness is pleasant only for those who are fit to bear it; otherwise, it is a consuming fire. There will be degrees of nearness to God in heaven, depending on our holiness. All the redeemed will be there, but some will be nearer to God than others. We will all be perfectly happy in heaven, but the joy of some will be greater than others. They have wept more profusely, therefore they will rejoice more exceedingly.

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Brownout

Brownout.
Black actually.
It is hot and sleep cannot
descend on me,
not when the heat drives it away.

I hear the thunder rumble
far away,
and the clanking of the chain
around the old dog’s neck.

Far away too
is the music of a party
that won’t accept
its cause is lost.

Oh well,
the night is deep
and sleep is miles away.
Let it come when it so desires
and bring with it cool breeze.

(Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash)

The Christian’s Struggle Against Sin

Romans 7:14-25 NIV [14] We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. [15] I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. [16] And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. [17] As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. [18] For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. [19] For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Continue reading “The Christian’s Struggle Against Sin”

The Value of a Small Life

Sometime ago I listened to a podcast interview of Rod Dreher (author of The Benedict Option) where he mentioned the phrase, “The Value of a Small life”. He was referring to his sister who lived practically all her life in a small town as a school teacher.

The phrase resonated with me. I prefer small over big. I read Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful a long time ago, and I remember reading something about giantism being a disease. I’m inclined to agree. One can be too big for one’s own good – like the bullfrog who puffed and puffed until it exploded!

In relation to life and work in general, this means I shouldn’t take on more responsibilities than I can handle. Instead, I should concentrate on the few things I can do very well and which yield the greatest benefit.

It also means curbing one’s ambition to be the biggest, best, and brightest in everything and everywhere. To do one’s work with faithfulness and excellence in the place where God has called you should be enough, even if it is just a small place.

At any rate, small is not only beautiful, it’s also relative. Even a big fish is considered small in a big pond occupied by much bigger fish. But in a small pond, a fish considered small elsewhere turns out be big!

When asked why he chose to practice in his hometown in the province rather than in the nation’s capital, a lawyer friend of mine replied, “I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.” Good point!

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Sushi and the Sun

Just one thing:
like sushi
in Jiro’s life.

Reminds me of the Sun.

The Sun at the center,
outshining everything.
No stars, no moon, no planets
are visible to the eye.
They are hidden from sight
by the one supreme light.

Whether this is a life worth living,
I am not sure.
Hyper-focused on one thing
to the exclusion of all else –
Is that not an idolatrous waste
of energy and time?

To look at the sun
straight in the eye,
never averting one’s gaze,
is to be blinded by light.

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Though the earth gives way

Reflections on Psalm 46:

The earth is our temporal foundation of stability. If it gives way, our lives are undone. But we are not afraid because God is our everlasting foundation. He provides unshakeable and eternal stability. He is our refuge in whom we can hide and are protected. He is our strength by whom we are enabled to bear the worst that life can throw at us. He is our help, immediately and always present; therefore, I can confidently face a multitude of troubles.

When trouble strikes I should remain calm and look up to Almighty God who reigns over all. He cares for me and will arise in my behalf.

Help me, to be still, O God, in times of trouble, knowing that you are in control and that you care for me.

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Save maybe …

God’s mercies fall like heavy rain
from morning clouds above;
the earth awakes alive and sane,
responding to His love.

I wake to wonders all around,
a world that smiles at me.
But though these miracles abound,
deep sadness covers me.

I long for love and joy and peace,
but find these difficult to grasp,
save maybe in a father’s wish:
an infant’s hand to clasp.

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After hearing a sermon on Pride

Pride is the sermon for today,
a serious malfunction of the soul.
The preacher presented the consequences
and pointed the way to be made whole.

To be proud and to be arrogant
is to follow in the devil’s steps;
‘Tis the humble and the penitent
whom the Holy Spirit helps.

I surrender, Lord, this vicious heart
for you to cleanse and cure.
Tho’ powerless from you apart,
in you the victory’s sure.

(11 August 2019; Robinson’s Bacolod)

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