Eyes and Heart

“From this you see that blessedness depends upon the act of vision, not upon the act of love – which is a consequence.” (Dante’s Paradiso, Canto XXVIII, line 109)

The eyes and the heart are connected. What you regularly feast your eyes on, the heart learns to love with an iron grip. The eyes, the heart, and the object of affection are all caught up together in an iron embrace of either life or death, depending on the character of the object one has set her eyes and heart upon and the manner by which it is seen and loved. The object of affection serves to either elevate one’s soul or corrupt it.

It’s time to heed the words of the children’s song: “Be careful little eyes what you see.”

The Christian’s Employment

“On the other hand, what should be the exercise and employment of a Christian? It is even this, whatever he be, or whatever his occupation be among men, he drives a higher trade with heaven, that should take him up. The world gets but his spare hours. He is upon a more noble and high project. He aspires after a kingdom. His heart is above where Christ is, and where his treasure is. And these things exhaust his affections and pains.”

(Hugh Binning’s The Christian’s Primary Obligation)

Interesting thought. Not the kind you hear from this world’s self-help gurus or productivity experts. Not a recipe for worldly success.

But come to think of it, using Paul as an example, although he was a tent-maker there is no evidence he was the best in the world at that (although one may safely assume he did a decent job). But he was certainly the greatest apostle of them all.

And that’s because his heart wasn’t intent on tents (pun intended). Sure, he made tents – but only for the sake of the gospel. The gospel was what his heart was really intent on. And that’s what exhausted his affections and pains.

Asa’s Heart

“Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days And he brought into the house of the Lord the sacred gifts of his father and his own sacred gifts, silver, and gold, and vessels.” (1 Kings 15:14-15, ESV)

God has given us a lot of gifts and talents. But do we offer these back to him? Do we bring these to his house? And if we don’t, why not? You have a wonderful singing voice. Do you sing for him? He has given you wealth way beyond what the average person earns. But do you financially support the ministries of your local church? Again, why not? In Asa’s case, because his heart was true to the Lord he brought gifts to the Lord’s house. That’s the key: the heart. As Jesus once said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Lord, please make my heart true to you, that I may bring gifts to your house.

Occupy, Don’t Encumber

Yesterday I received the news that my aunt died. She was more than 90 years old. Her brother, i.e., my father, died when he was only 66 or 67 years old. That was more than 15 years ago.

No matter how long we live on this earth, one day we will have to leave it. Someday it will be my turn. And the question is: How well did you live your life while you had it? Did you live to merely encumber the ground or did you “occupy” it? “Occupy till I come,” said the Lord.

That means we should make good use of the talents he gave us while we have life in us. In other words: Be useful. Be a blessing. Serve. Redeem the time. Work while it is day because the night is coming when no one could work anymore.

Life is short. Let’s not allow the talents God has given us to go to waste. Let’s not bury them in the ground. Let’s use them for his glory.

Being the Best?

There’s something about trying to be the best in the world (at least, in my world) that bothers me.

Seth Godin recommends focusing your efforts on what you can be the best in the world at; otherwise, if you can’t make it through the dip (read his book: The Dip), then quit. But there’s a price to pay. You have to say, “No” to a lot of things, because you can’t be the best in one thing without giving up other things.

But what if you enjoy doing a lot of different kinds of things? What if being the best in one thing (whatever it is) doesn’t make you happy? In my case, trying to choose one thing to be the best at in my world paralyses me. I can’t choose! I love them all! Theology, law, poetry, music, and what have you.

I think there’s a way through this impasse. What if you don’t have to be the best? What if it’s okay to be merely second best – good enough instead of great? Then you can do a lot of things that you enjoy. The important thing is people still get blessed by the things you do even if you’re not the best at them, as long as you’re good enough.

John the Baptist didn’t try to be the best. It was enough for him to be the best man (pun not intended) instead of being the groom. He said, “He must increase; I must decrease.” Ironically, even with that kind of attitude he still turned out to be the greatest of the prophets, according to Jesus himself.

So second best instead of being the best, anyone?

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Dignity

Psalm 8:4-6 KJV

[4] What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? [5] For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. [6] Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

If we see God’s sovereignty as a violation of man’s autonomy, then it will be a cause for stumbling; but if we see it as a vindication of man’s dignity, it will be a cause for rejoicing.

God’s glory is bound up with his free, merciful, and gracious exaltation of man, and towards this end he will exercise his sovereignty. He even went to the extent of doing the unthinkable: becoming man himself in the person of Jesus Christ in order to die for man so that the image of God in man might be restored. In himself man is nothing; he is but “from dust to dust.” But in Christ he is a little lower than God (NASB), crowned with glory and honor.

Young Men

Here’s the outline of the devotional I shared a while ago with the Men’s group of Ikthus East church, Bacolod City. It’s part of the series of Bible studies I’m doing on 1st John, particularly the three stages of the Christian life. Be blessed!

SCRIPTURE

1 John 2:12-14 KJV

[12] I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. [13] I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. [14] I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Continue reading “Young Men”

The Speech of the Righteous

During my quiet time this morning I read Proverbs chapter 10. I noticed it had a number of things to say about the speech of the righteous.

– The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.

– The tongue of the righteous is choice silver.

– The lips of the righteous feed many.

– The mouth of the righteous brings worth wisdom.

– The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable.

I assume, using New Testament lenses, that the righteous refers to people who by grace have clothed themselves with the righteousness of Jesus Christ through faith in him, who live according to his will, and who are filled with his wisdom. This kind of people are in a position to be a blessing to others through their speech.

What comes out of their mouth? Life-giving wisdom. Not only practical wisdom pertaining to the affairs of this life, but more importantly gospel wisdom, the wisdom that leads to eternal life.

Their speech is also attractive, able to delight those who listen to them. What they have to say is precious and even rare because of the spiritual insight they possess.

But they don’t just blurt out anything that comes to their mind. They weigh and they consider; they choose their words carefully; they restrain their lips. They speak the truth, but they do so in love, and at the right time and at the right place.

And finally they share their knowledge. They don’t hoard it and just keep it to themselves. For the only way they will be able to feed many with their lips is if they share the wisdom God has given them. And they do this not only as a matter of stewardship but because they care for people. They want others to be blessed.

So go and be a blessing! Share the wisdom you’ve been given.

Blogging everyday

I watched a video of Seth Godin just a while ago. He said something about the benefits of blogging everyday and recommended that everyone should blog everyday. I thought I should try that. I took a look at his blog and I noticed it was very simple, his blog posts were quite short, and covered a lot of topics. A recent post was about exhaust fans!

So I’m going to try that. Post everyday even if no one else reads it. The important thing is to keep doing it.

My goal however is not to become popular. I just want to share what’s in me. And I think some of the things I have to share might be of benefit to someone out there.

As the Bible says, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee.”

So as I said, I’m going to try that. Blog everyday. Probably about the three things that matter most to me per title of this blog: theology, law, and everything else!