Nanay

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Tatay would time and again remind us that when we eventually decide to marry someone, she should be as smart, godly, and beautiful as our mother. Nanay would pretend to dismiss the comment, but her face would betray her anyway: she'd beam with pride and, well, blush. This usually happens at dinner time. I and my brothers would look at her and say, in unison, "Uy, na-flatter!" She's always been a no-nonsense person, keen at pointing out our unruly, uncivilized manners, and forever patient at reminding us to brush our teeth before we slept at night. She's terribly sweet, too; nothing parallels the feeling I get when I hear her soothing voice calling me sweetheart. For these and for a lot of great things in my life, I thank my mother. Happy birthday, Nanay.

Sleeplessness

He turns the radio on, inserts an old CD, and presses the play button. Still discontented, he further adjusts the volume to an all-time high. The room reverberates with the noise emanating from the speakers. The world is shaken, disgruntled by the untimely disturbance. And at 12 midnight, sleep becomes almost impossible. From the room's dimly-lit corner he hears a shout, "Can you please turn that off? We're trying to sleep here." But for no reason at all, he dismisses the request, oblivious of the anger combined with it. The shout increases with gradual intensity, but his ears are shut. "Don't talk to me," he thinks, "you do not exist." He continues to listen to the noise, his eyes blankly staring at nothingness. For a few minutes he sits like that, as if the world has stopped moving and he is all alone. One by one, his companions leave him to search for some place where there is peace and quiet and yes, the sacramental pleasure called sleep.

I dream of lions

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Dreams always offer us a certain kind of entertainment especially during times when spending just a couple of minutes in front of the TV can trigger extremely guilty feelings. Last night I dreamed that Manong got mauled by lions. I was inside a white room (that smelled like the laboratories in MBB) with glass windows. There was a telephone on a table--that I distinctly remember. Overlooking was a street, and there Manong was, trying to cross to come to me, when, out of nowhere, those golden lions began attacking him. It wasn't gory at all because I couldn't see the blood gushing out of his veins, but I had the impression that the lions were voraciously eating his flesh and had a great time doing so. His body was thrown to the ground while I watched, behind that glass window--my stomach sickened to death, my eyes wet with tears. I was helpless: if I'd come to him to drag his body away from those wretched carnivores, they'd probably think of me as a better source of nutrition. Or, I could call the police, but I had the feeling that I was in the Philippines--even in movies, the police would always come late in the scene. By then, my brother would've been reduced to pieces. Thankfully, I snapped out of my dream with cold sweat all over me. But that whole experience really got me asking, "What if that happened in real life?" I should probably buy a tranquilizer gun. Lions may be on the loose.

The peace that transcends understanding

There are days in our lives when we find ourselves burdened, confused, overwhelmed, and distraught. While we go about our daily duties, we just can't help but wish that the day would end, in earnest hope that by tomorrow, our problems and worries would have vanished, too. Today was certainly one of them. But, like a son calls on to his father, so must we run to God, who alone is the ultimate source of comfort and strength. Perhaps we are being chastened, maybe we are being humbled, or maybe, we are being taught a lesson of great importance. Whatever the reasons are, the fact remains that we must live near the cross so that our peace may be continual. "Peace I live with you, my peace I give unto you." (John 14:27)

Prayerlessness

Nothing wears a Christian down more than the habit of prayerlessness. I say it is a habit because it develops gradually, and once established, it is difficult to erase. It is never abrupt when it takes it toll; there are always obvious signs that precede it--a disinterest in the meditation of Scripture, a lack of enthusiasm in fellowshipping with other Christians, a vague idea of the Cross and what it stands for, and an ongoing emergence of past sins in one's lifestyle. The appropriate response would be to come to God in prayer. Ask Him to search your hearts. "If there is any wicked way in me, lead me in the path everlasting."

The Look

Bob Kauflin, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote this song, with lyrics from John Newton's hymn and a few lines of his own. This wonderful piece evokes memories of one's sinfulness and God's pure atoning grace. You can listen to it here.

The Look
© 2001 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

I saw one hanging on a tree
In agony and blood
Who fixed His loving eyes on me
As near His cross I stood
And never till my dying breath
Will I forget that look
It seemed to charge me with His death
Though not a word He spoke

My conscience felt and owned the guilt
And plunged me in despair
I saw my sins His blood had spilt
And helped to nail Him there
But with a second look He said
“I freely all forgive
This blood is for your ransom paid
I died that you might live”

Forever etched upon my mind
Is the look of Him who died
The Lamb I crucified
And now my life will sing the praise
Of pure atoning grace
That looked on me and gladly took my place

Thus while His death my sin displays
For all the world to view
Such is the mystery of grace
It seals my pardon too
With pleasing grief and mournful joy
My spirit now is filled
That I should such a life destroy
Yet live by Him I killed

Blazing center

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All the planets of your life—from your labor and leisure to your thinking and feeling—are held in orbit by the greatness, gravity, and blazing brightness of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. When He ceases to be the center, the planets of your life fly into confusion, sending a hundred things out of control.

My Church's Youth Ministry recently started with the Blazing Center Series, which we'll be covering for the whole of February and March. It's composed of eight 30-minute video preachings of Pastor John Piper, which we'll get to watch weekly.

Last Saturday, the topic was God's passion for His glory.

God's glory is seen creation. [The heavens tell the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).] But the greatest demonstration of this glory is the Cross. It is the center of history. It is where God truly demonstrated this passion: yes, God could always choose to save sinners. But that would compromise His justice. So His Son, Jesus, had to die (Galatians 3:13) to demonstrate His hatred for sin and His love for sinners. God therefore is able to vindicate His glory through the Cross.

You're all invited to this opportunity of knowing God more.

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Exhibit A: My workplace

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"Your Honor, I present Exhibit A. This evidence links the defendant's abnormal sleeping patters to his workspace. This details the paraphernalia through which he carries out his crime, the reason why he is on trial at this moment. The computer, so named as Slowpoke, glows with exceeding brightness. This is the machine he uses to carry out his scheming calculations, generate printed material, format his ideas, search dubious databases, and communicate with wanted felons to help him perpetuate his crime. Your Honor, I further direct your attention to the lamp, the books, and photocopied materials. And please, may your notice not escape that wretched chocolate bar, through which he feeds his twisted mind with energy to stay up late at night."

Digestive knowledge

Wegs and I are eating breakfast. Both she and I order garlic chicken and a milkshake each--I have vanilla, she has mocca. While we're finishing, she tells me, "I really don't get it...how some people would think it dirty to share the same straw or drink on the same glass."

"Me, too," I tell her, and thus begins my lecture. "And you know what? I think that attitude springs from the utter lack of knowledge that the digestive system employs strong acids to break down food and at the same time, kill those microbes. Those people need to study digestion in detail." It's a crisp new morning, and we're talking about gastric juices.

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Later in the afternoon, Ate Lavinia motions me to go with her. "Why?" I ask.

"Let's buy dirty ice cream," she tells me. I find the idea exciting, and the prospect of eating something cold cannot be ignored.

Paul overhears us. "What? Don't eat dirty ice cream." He looks shocked--appalled even, at how we manage to risk our health for the sake of a momentary gastronomic delight. "It's dirty. You never know how that ice cream is made." This is the same Paul who has cautioned me not to eat bagoong, alamang, among other foods prepared through fermentation or by the action of maggots.

I repeat the lecture I gave Wegs earlier. "Paul, you do realize that those microbes are necessarily eradicated as a result of the disruption of their cell membranes due to very strong digestive acids. It's perfectly safe, I tell you--that ice cream. Our system is designed to counteract unwanted bacterial action anyway."

He pauses, then looks at me questioningly. "Eh, Lance, what about amoebiasis?"

My world crashes, my lips are shut. Then follows the brief moment of shameful silence. Me and my big mouth, I tell myself.

Then off we go to mamang sorbetero.

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