Hymns CD

I recently bought Amy Grant’s Legacy, a collection of hymns set to modern arrangement. I have always loved the old hymns and I think the arrangements on this CD are a pleasing treat. You’ll understand what I mean when you listen to it. The music’s neither rocky nor stale but refreshingly something you can’t point your finger exactly to: is it celtic, country, pop? Copies are obtainable at “House of Praise” (which can usually be found in any Robinsons, SM and Gaisano Mall) or at Phlippine Christian Bookstore. Highly recommended!

Constructive Dismissal

When does transfer of an employee amount to constructive dismissal? Here’s the Supreme Court’s latest answer: Westmont Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al. Vs. Ricardo C. Samaniego..G.R. Nos. 146653-54/G.R. Nos. 147407-08. February 20, 2006

Some excerpts:

“In constructive dismissal, the employer has the burden of proving that the transfer of an employee is for just and valid grounds, such as genuine business necessity. The employer must be able to show that the transfer is not unreasonable, inconvenient, or prejudicial to the employee. It must not involve a demotion in rank or a diminution of salary and other benefits. If the employer cannot overcome this burden of proof, the employee’s transfer shall be tantamount to unlawful constructive dismissal.

“Westmont and Unilab failed to discharge this burden. Samaniego was unceremoniously transferred from Isabela to Metro Manila. We hold that such transfer is economically and emotionally burdensome on his part. He was constrained to maintain two residences – one for himself in Metro Manila, and the other for his family in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. Worse, immediately after his transfer to Metro Manila, he was placed “on floating status” and was demoted in rank, performing functions no longer supervisory in nature.

“There may also be constructive dismissal if an act of clear insensibility or disdain by an employer becomes so unbearable on the part of the employee that it could foreclose any choice by him except to forego his continued employment. This was what happened to Samaniego. Thus, he is entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights, full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and other benefits or their monetary equivalent, computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.

“However, the circumstances obtaining in this case do not warrant the reinstatement of Samaniego. Antagonism caused a severe strain in the relationship between him and his employer. A more equitable disposition would be an award of separation pay equivalent to at least one month pay, or one month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher (with a fraction of at least six [6] months being considered as one [1] whole year), in addition to his full backwages, allowances and other benefits.”

A Child of Light Walking in Darkness

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” (Isaiah 50:10)

INTRODUCTION

This message is meant to encourage Christians who are discouraged by their sins and their consequences – Christians who are ready to faint, as Hebrews 12 puts it, because of the divine discipline they are undergoing. An alternative outline: (1) the Person; (2) the Problem; (3) the Prescription.

I. THE CHARACTER OF A CHILD OF LIGHT .

A. He fears the Lord.

B. He obeys the voice of Jesus (cf. Rom. 1:5).

COMMENT: This does not describe the children of disobedience (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3). We are now children of light because God has changed us (II Cor. 5:17; Jer. 32:40; Ezek. 36:25-27).

II. THE CONDITION A CHILD OF LIGHT SOMETIMES FINDS HIMSELF IN.

A. He sometimes walks in darkness: discouragement under discipline for sin.

B. He has no light, no comfort or assurance of God’s favor.

SEE: Micah 7:8.9; Lam. 3:1-18; Ps. 88:6-7; Ps. 32:3-4; Ps. 38:1-10

COMMENT: (1) It is still possible for a Christian to sin (1 John 1:8, 10; Rom. 7:22-25). (2) God will discipline his children when they sin (2 Sam. 7:14).

III. THE CURE FOR A CHILD OF LIGHT WHO IS WALKING IN DARKNESS (Ps. 30:5; Lam. 3: 32; Micah 7:8-9).

A. He must trust in the name of the Lord, i.e., in the merciful character of God (Exo. 33:19; 34:5-9; Rom. 3:21-26)

B. He must rely on his God; i.e., in the matchless commitment of God (Isa. 50:8-9; Rom. 8:31-33, 38-39, 28-30; Jer. 31:3, 18-20)

CONCLUSION

Although we ought to be humbled by our sins, we ought not to be discouraged by them for our Savior is committed and able to save us from the penalty, the power and even the presence of sin (cf., Matt. 1:21; Phil. 1:6). And we ought not to faint under God’s discipline; he is eternally and unchangeably committed to our good (Jer. 32:41)

Bible Translations

I read somewhere (on another blog) that when Billy Graham was asked, “What is the best Bible translation?” he answered, “The one you read.” Good answer!

I’m presently using the English Standard Version. I grew up reading the KJV; later on I used the NKJV; then the NIV. Many of the verses I memorized, however, are from the KJV. I like the smooth, contemporary English of the NIV, but I miss the traditional theological terms I grew up with such as “propitiation”, which the NIV translates as “atoning sacrifice” in 1 John 2:2, for example. The NKJV, on the other hand, “eliminated the best feature of the KJV (its marvelous expression of the English language) and kept the worst (its flawed text),” according to Fee and Stuart in their book How to Read the Bible for All its Worth (p. 40 in the 3rd edition). The NASB, as many have observed, sticks too closely to the form of the Greek, resulting in wooden and stilted English.

The ESV reminds me of the NKJV but with the advantage of a better textual basis. John Piper’s article on the ESV also influenced me in making the change.

Those who would like to explore the possibility of using the ESV as their main Bible translation might also want to read what Leland Ryken has to say in his book, The Word of God in English.

As far as the issue of gender-neutral translations is concerned I don’t think we Filipinos will be bothered much by it. We have the gender-neutral third person pronoun “siya” which is used in referring to both men and women, whereas English only has “he” and “she”. English for us is just our second language although many of us prefer to use an English translation of the Bible because most of us are trained to read, write and speak in English in school. At any rate, it seems to me that politically correct English is not yet the “in” thing here in the Philippines.

The ESV I think is as good as you can get. On the negative side, however, some might find the ESV’s English a bit outdated with its O’s (e.g., “O Lord”) and archaic constructions (e.g., “Rejoice not”). In that case you might want to use the Holman Christian Standard Bible instead.

1 Cor 13

Last Sunday I preached on 1 Cor. 13. Here’s the outline.

THE GREATEST IS LOVE

(I COR. 13:1-3; 13)

Introduction: Who is the greatest? Luke 22:24. This is a question that Christians, whatever the motive, frequently ask. And it seems that in the church at Corinth during Paul’s time it was being asked but not with pure motives. The motives seemed to be pride and envy. People were proud of their spiritual gifts or envied those who were more gifted than they were. There was also division and discrimination. The question is timely because these problems can also be found in today’s churches.

I. Four Kinds of Gifted People Who Could Lay Claim to Being the Greatest.

A. The Speaker

  • The great speaker is able to captivate audiences and to sway them where he pleases. He can make them laugh, cry, change their mind, etc.
  • But when our unloving lives contradict our fine speech our words no longer convince. They become mere noise: just like a resounding gong, a clanging cymbal – empty praise. Our tongues, just like these instruments were meant to praise God (Ps. 150:5) but the sounds they produce are mere noise in God’s ears without love (James 3:9, 10).
  • Impressive speech and wonderful oratory is not everything, definitely not the main thing in preaching (I Cor. 1:17; 2:1, 4, 5).
  • One other thing: the Bible tells us to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). The truth can be spoken in a harsh, insensitive and cruel manner. Truth spoken without love serves only to destroy. The tragedy is we are often guilty of this. Of course we are to rebuke and to warn and even to constructively criticize when the occasion calls for it, but we often do so with delight in the fall of others and with secret joy in our moral and spiritual superiority over others! Many of us are repeating the same mistake of the Pharisees of old. Yes, rebuke all you want, but you must earn the right to do so. You must do so with tears in your eyes and with brokenness of heart and gentleness of spirit (Gal. 6:1). We are often so self-righteous and unloving in our condemnation of others, caring only about our having spoken the truth, but heedless of the fact that in speaking the truth without love we have all the more pushed a brother down instead of helping him rise up to his feet. How different was the spirit of our Lord! In the case of the woman caught in adultery he above all others had the right to judge. Instead he said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Lord, help us to speak the truth in love. And if there be no love in our hearts to accompany the truth, help us rather to be silent.”

B. The Thinker

  • These are the people who impress us with their intelligence, their brilliance, their deep insights, their extensive knowledge and their academic credentials. And we are duly impressed! We often take this into account when choosing a guest speaker for special occasions in our churches or when enrolling in a subject in seminary. We want to know whether the teacher is academically qualified.
  • There is nothing wrong with knowledge and academic credentials per se. In fact the Bible encourages to get all the knowledge and wisdom we can (Prov. 4: 7). The knowledge you have and share with others can bless people’s lives. Great and knowledgeable theologians like Luther and Calvin have been a great blessing to the church. The problem, however, is knowledge without love leads merely to pride (I Cor. 8:1). It can happen that the knowledgeable person is interested only in displaying his knowledge and not at all in the spiritual welfare of his listeners. He cares only about attracting attention to himself and not about leading them to God. In that case, he is truly nothing.

C. The Believer/Achiever:

  • Then we have the person gifted with great faith and daring optimism. He is not easily discouraged by difficulties. He dares to act against impossible odds. By his faith he is able to move mountains, so to speak (Mark 11:23). We owe a lot to this kind of people. They often inspire us to do what we would not ordinarily attempt without their prodding. They are often great leaders and organizers. By their faith and inspiration we are encouraged to go ahead with the church building project even though we do not know where the funds will come from.
  • The problem however is it is possible to attempt all these great things without love – merely for self-aggrandizement or for the mere sake of getting things done and it turns out to be empty in the end (Ecc. 2:11).
  • By way of contrast, Paul’s joy was not so much in his great accomplishments but in people whom he loved (I Thess 2:19, 20). This is something ministers should take to heart. The ministry is not about building an empire for ourselves; it’s about loving God and loving people.

D. The Giver

  • Finally we have the person who is willing to give up everything for the sake of the ministry. He is willing to give not only money but also his very life for the God’s work. These are the people who turn out to be missionaries, hard workers and self-sacrificing laborers in the church and in the mission field because they have a phenomenal capacity for self-sacrifice.
  • Nevertheless, without love it is all for nothing.
  • But why is this so? Is not giving and sacrifice proof of love? (c.f., John 3:16). Not necessarily. One can give all he has yet do so without love.
  • This was the problem in the Church of Ephesus in Rev. 2 (see verses 3-5). They had great endurance. They were orthodox in doctrine. But they had lost their first love. It is significant that in spite of their endurance the Lord was willing to take away their lamp stand – to do away with their church – unless they repented.
  • It’s just like a marriage relationship. There can come a time in a marriage when what used to be sincere expressions of affection become nothing more than dry routine. Yes, the external acts are still in place but something essential is missing. In the same way, you can faithfully go through all the motions of serving God – reading your Bible everyday, giving your tithes and offerings, attending Sunday School, prayer meeting and worship services, singing in the choir and witnessing – but if you do all these merely out of force of habit, merely out of a sense of duty, merely out of fear of your pastor and concern for your spiritual reputation, instead of out of genuine affection for God, would God be pleased? It’s not the number of flowers I give my wife on Valentine’s Day that counts, what counts is that she knows that I love her.

II. So Who is the Greatest?

  • The one who loves.
  • Why? Because God looks at the heart. People tend to look at the outward appearance, but what counts with God is not so much what we say or what we do but what goes on in our hearts (I Sam 16:7)
  • Why? Because love and humility go together. The loving person is the person who thinks of others as better than himself. (Phil. 2:3-4) Therefore the loving person is the humble person. And the humble person is the person God delights to honor. (Isa. 66:2)
  • Why? Because when we love we reflect God’s own character. Man was made in God’s image. God, however, is love (I John 4:8; John 3:16). Therefore when we love we are reflecting God’s character; we are shining forth God’s image. And when we do this we are glorifying God. So love is the greatest because love glorifies God who is the greatest. God, who is the greatest, is delighted to see his own character reflected in the lives of his children. The person who speaks well, who thinks brilliantly, who achieves great things and gives lavishly, but does so without love, ultimately cares only about himself. But he who loves cares about others and above all cares about God. The person who loves God as well as loves people who are actually created in the image of God glorifies and honors God as the One who is most valuable in the universe. Therefore love is the greatest because love glorifies God who is the greatest.