Thursday, July 12, 2007


PBTS Chapel Service

July 10, 2007


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Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

This regular broadcast is temporarily interrupted by this tribute:
Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dissertation Ploughing

I'm an ABD for about 3 years now. My academic clock is about to expire. That's why this blog has been stagnant for a loooooooooooooooongg time.

As soon as I get my first draft done, I might post again. :-)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Forgotten Closet

The Forgotten Closet

Text: Genesis 38

Sermon delivered at PBTS Chapel, Sept. 28, 2006.

He never saw it coming. It was just the better part of the morning and yet it seemed like a full day already for him. He was not able to sleep well the night before. Maybe it was the heat. But, no. He had been here for a long time now. His body was well adjusted to the desert heat. The desert. This has been his home for several decades now. He found the place therapeutic. It helps forget one's past. Or so he thought.

When was that? Ah, it was too long ago. A lifetime had passed. But still, he can remember it very well. The desert was not that helpful after all. He can still feel the pain that caused him to run away. Run away from the ones he love. His father and his brothers. Why? He could not bear anymore to see his father in anguish. He was old. Actually, too old to suffer that way. And the guilt is too much to carry, especially whenever he sees his father crying all day. All the more when he hears him cry at night in his tent. These are the silent swords that cut through his heart. He decided could not live with the lies anymore. Why did he make that suggestion? Who could have the heart to sell his own brother? His own flesh and blood? What if he had not done that? What if he had kept his cool? What if he had just swallowed his envy and his pride? What if...?

His reveries were broken momentarily by a hustling outside the tent. They have come. They were the messangers that came the day before. He was all too excited to see them, only to hear later that it was not good news they brought. He has not seen this men in a long time. Long time friends. Good friends. It was during their carefree days they got acquainted. They have too much in common and have enjoyed each other's company very much. Now, they have crossed ways again. The first minutes were full of excited exchange of news. Too much to share. Too much to know. And the heart is ever hungry for such encounters. Then came the heart stopper.

“Do you have any news about your daughter in law?” asked one of them.

“Tamar? What about her?”

“There are rumors going around...” said another. Trying to feel the situation.

“Please go on.” He pleaded.

“Some had seen your daughter-in-law and she's acting strange.”

“What do you mean 'strange'?” His eyes are now narrowing.

“Some of the townspeople think she's pregnant. And it's strange because she has no husband at the moment. Is that right?”

“We did not believe at first. But we ourselves have seen her one time as she was going to the well. It looks like the protrusion in her midsection is not because of an oversized dress.” offered the other.

“Tamar...” His words trailed off. He felt a door that has been closed for a long time, now slowly creak open. Memories are coming back. At first in isolated drops. Then a trickle. Then a sudden gush of memories flooded his mind.

Tamar. Yes. How could he forget? His only daughter-in-law. His cursed daughter-in-law. If not cursed, then what would you call her?

He suddenly remembered Er his firstborn son. He feeling as a failed father came back with the image of his son. Laughing. Mocking. When his son married Tamar, he thought his son will change for the better. Responsibility does that sometimes. Sometimes. But his son seems to be the exception. That cursed woman did not help, instead it brought more judgment from the Lord. For from who else would judgment come from? My Son! He realized that he was just reaping the consequences of what he has done. My son! My son! For the first time, he fully understood the anguish he has brought upon his father. No logical reasons could ever justify what he has done to his father and to his brother! A lost son taught him that. A dead son. A very precious price to pay.

He made sure that his son's name will not be blotted out from Israel. Although apprehensive, he told his second son Onan to take his brother's widow as his wife. They must have a son for his brother's sake. He gently explained to Onan his duty as a brother. It was in the Torah after all. When Onan agreed, he was joyous. At least, a memory for his son is ensured. Or so he thought.

One early morning, he was startled with a commotion outside Onan's tent. He thought the shepherds were just too excited about the start of the shearing period. He was about to go back to sleep when one of the shepperds persistently rapped at the door flaps of his tent. He called the shepherd in, only to hear the report that his second son Onan died in the night. He felt like being in the middle of an Arabian sandstorm. The lights have gone out. “Again!?” he cried out. His eyes and his heart have not yet fully recovered from his mourning not too long ago. And now this. He felt this was too much. He ran outside his tent like a mad man. He tore his robes. “Adoooooooonnnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy!”

He could not remember how long he stayed face down on the sand. He might have slept crying. He had cried his heart out and maybe he fell asleep out of exhaustion. It's time to move on. Another price. Another precious price for his sin. It's all coming back to him. There's no escape.

Then he thought of that cursed woman Tamar. She has to go. She had brought enough grief already. He can not take another of this. She has to go. But how? He knew that the Law requires him to give his son Selah to her as her husband. But she has to go, he knew that. Suddenly, he thought of something. If giving his son Selah is inevitable, then maybe he can delay it. Yes, that's it. Delay. The delay might be the catalyst to forgetting. Delaying is forgetting. That's right. That's what he needed to do.

“Until when?” Tamar asked him.
“Wait until he comes of age. Then you can be his wife.” He was performing the charade very well. “For the meantime, you can go home to your father. I will send you messengers as soon as Selah is ready to take his responsibility. Don't worry, I will send you what you might need. I will make sure that you are taken cared off.”

“That sounds reasonable. Thank you for your generous offer. That's so kind of you. When should I leave?”
“As soon as you are ready, my men will escort you home.” And then he thought, “for good.”

He was suddenly brought back to the present by the insistent rapping on his tent's flap door. He was disoriented at first. How long has he been dwelling on those memories? An hour? He has no way of knowing. The raps are now getting louder.

“I will be right there in a moment!” Shepherds! Can't they just wait? The sudden flashbacks has rendered him immobile. The cramps he's feeling indicate that he has been in that position for a long time. But deep inside, he felt happy. Vindicated. At last, the time has come. The curse will now be finally broken. He did not expect this to happen. But the LORD has finally made his face shine upon him. Dawn at last! As soon as he felt the strength come back to his legs, he rose slowly.

The men he sent yesterday were fast and highly efficient. He was satisfied with their work. That's why he sent them. And he can't but smile to himself. They're back with the cursed woman! At this very early hour! They made it. He thought of giving them young goats as rewards. Good men deserves rewards. It keeps them efficient and loyal. It works.

As soon as he heard the news from his old friends during their reunion the day before, he immediately sent his men after Tamar. His verdict: SHE MUST BE BURNED. He felt justified and righteously indignant. That is in the Law. Harlotry deserves burning. Adonai must be smiling at me right now, he thought. At last, the LORD has finally made his face shine upon him. At last.

He slowly made his way to the tent door. Age slows you down. Why can't men just stay young and healthy and vigorous? Now he had to contend with his squeaking joints. He can't help but remember his younger days. The day he first met his the woman he married. But as soon as the memory hit him, he felt a sudden pang in his heart. She left this world too soon. She could have waited. She was too young to die. Sheol has no need of her, but he does.

The urge he felt suddenly jolted him back into the present. He feel his desires rise, but he restrained it. It can wait. Another young goat would not hurt his flock. He found himself rejuvenated with the thought. Adrenaline has that effect to the body.
He squinted his eyes as he walked out his tent. The brightness caused by the sun's reflections on things around him is too much for his old eyes to take. And coming from the dimly lit tent of his only made it worse. After his eyes have adjusted, he saw that it was his friend, the Adullamite, that was rapping. Behind him were the men he sent yesterday. His strike force.

“Where is she?” He excitedly blurted out.

“They did not get her.”

“What! Was I unclear yesterday that you missed my instructions?” His stare was so sharp they could have bled to death at that instant.

One of the men he sent stepped forward and brought several things out of his duffel bag.

He never saw it coming. This was far from his expectations. As soon as he saw the first item, he knew it was over. He is dead. There's no escape. Again.

Memories came gushing back one more time. It seems his past is really after him.

“What pledge should I give you?” he remembered asking the shrine prostitute.

“Your cord, your seal, and your staff.”

“You are funny, do you know that? Why would I give you those things?”

“Because you want to lay with me.”

He did want to lay with her. The urge inside him is like that of the gale of the Galilees. It was fast and furious. It must be satisfied. It must have an outlet. His wife has long been gone. When was the last time he touched a woman? He could not remember. Now is his chance. He could not think of any reason why he would not do it. Life is now. At this moment. But what will happen in the future? What if people find out? What if this is a mistake? What if...?

“Okay. But as soon as I sent you the young goat, I'll have these back.”

And that morning, he was looking at those items again. No escape. He remembered. He felt so tired. Tired of running around. Tired of trying to close the doors of his deepest closet. His strength is limited. He has reached past the breaking point. It's now the time of reckoning. The time of judgment.

First, he suggested the sale of his brother Joseph. Then he conspired with his brothers in telling a big lie to his father. They concocted a story that would explain his brother's disappearance. He thought that was easy. But he was wrong. But instead of facing the truth, he chose to run away. As if running away and forgetting it would make the guilt go away. That's what he thought. He tasted the bitter consequences and yet persisted... until this morning. Now, it's over. He was cornered. There's only one way out. He has to end it. He needs to tell the truth!

Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I...”

Two thousand years later, his great great grandson uttered this liberating words “You shall know the truth; and the truth shall set you free.”

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Pacquiao Punch: A Unifying Theme

Pacquiao's Sunday victory was met with vigorous applause by Filipinos here and abroad. For who cannot help but feel a surge of national pride from within seeing the flag of the Philippines waved on that contested boxing ring?

News about that victory overshadowed several political and economic events of that day. The headlines proudly proclaim that Filipino Victory. Cellular networks were overloaded that day as text messages proclaiming the result of the bout flooded the airwaves. What a moment. It feels good again to be called a "Filipino". It seems that for a moment in eternity, we are bonded together as one. A hero that represented us came out victorious in a fight. What a feeling! The enemy has been defeated.

This trait is deeply ingrained in us. Not only in boxing, but also in some other endeavor as well. We find it easy to relate to a kababayan coming out in victory. We wanted to stand beside him. We wanted that association.

In John 12:32 Jesus said "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." He was referring to his up coming death 6 days later when he said this. He knew the implications of his coming death.

Just like Pacquiao, Jesus faced a bout. At that time, eternity was at stake. Because of Sin, man is destined to spend eternity far from God's presence. But because of his great love, God the Father sent Jesus, the Son, to deal with Sin. Jesus obediently walked that path laid before him; yes, even if it means his death. And we know that three days later, he came out victorious.

We just have to realize that Jesus' victory can be ours, too. Isn't that what we look for a hero? If Pacquiao can unite us in a moment of eternity, Jesus can unite us for eternity. And these unity is not defined by geographic boundaries... nor physical realities. Our bond with Jesus is spiritual and eternal. That is, if we put our faith in him... that is, if we align with him. If we accept him in our heart.

Some papers have already mentioned that the Pacquiao fever is dying down. That moment in history is starting to be forgotten. Back to normal. Back to political and economic problems.

On the other hand, Jesus' victory over 2000 years ago is still very much alive in the memory of his believers. Simply because, it can't be suppressed.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I haven't put in anything lately... my apologies. Yours truly is busy finishing up his Dissertation. In one of my breaks, I took a quiz to measure up my theological leaning. And here are the results.

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Neo orthodox


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical








Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Turbulence: A Speech Act Reading of Judges 17

Our country is experiencing a severe turbulence right now. We can see in the news the highly-explosive atmosphere in Metro Manila. Not only can you feel the tension in the streets but even more so in the Stock market. Investors are on a high level of alert as that of the PNP. Who would want to invest in a very politically volatile country? No one, I guess.

Being in Baguio somehow makes us feel isolated. It somehow makes us feel detached from the heat in Manila. Nevertheless, we are very much involved with what's happening. All of us have an opinion about what's going on. How many of you have hello garci ring tones? How many of you visited the PCIJ website to listen to the taped conversations? Anybody here who got a free CD from the opposition?

This turbulent time we are experiencing right now reminds me of a segment in the history of the Israelites. Our passage this morning is Judges 17:1-13.

I describe this passage both confusing and shocking to a modern reader. We had a family devotion last week on this same passage and it took an effort to explain this passage to the point that will make enough sense. This is a very unusual passage stuck right in our Holy Scriptures. Those who love proof-texting irregardless of context would find this passage full of land mines.

1Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim 2said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.”

Then his mother said, “The LORD bless you, my son!”

The passage begins with a mother-son encounter. We can only infer what preceded this event. Here, Micah is confessing to his mother his sin. He took 1100 silver from his mother without her knowledge. As soon as his mother found out that the silver is gone, she uttered a curse – probably a lethal one – for the thief right in his presence. This could have bothered his conscience. His mother was quick to counter the curse she uttered when he learned that her son was the thief.

From here we learn that Micah and his mother are believers of the LORD – as the used formula for blessing implies.

3When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make a carved image and a cast idol. I will give it back to you.”

This is where con
fusion first comes in. Micah's mother is consecrating the silver to the LORD. However, the consecrated silver was intended for a carved image and cast idol.

I bet that Exodus 20 would flash automatically in your mind. Micah's mother is dedicating her silver to the LORD to be used in something that would violate the LORD's command.

The words carved image and cast idol undoubtedly refer to those things forbidden by the LORD. These two are the most common form of idols found in the Canaanite religions. The carved image is usually made of wood; a sculpture of a god. The cast idol is made by pouring molten metal to a mold, probably in the shape of a bull. This same thing was done by Aaron in the wilderness which earned them the wrath of God.

These same forbidden objects are the objects Micah's mother wanted his son to have – and this is through the silver consecrated to the LORD.

4So he returned the silver to his mother, and she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into the image and the idol. And they were put in Micah’s house.

Here is a twist. Earlier, Micah's mother dedicated ALL of the returned silver specifically for making an idol and an image. This is somewhat inconclusive using the English text. But in the Hebrew text, there is no doubt that the entire 1100 was dedicated. Now, she only gave 200 for that. What she did with the rest is left to our imagination.

5Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest.

This is another point of confusion. Micah has his own chapel! This is totally unacceptable. In Joshua 22:10-32, the tribes west of Jordan was ready to eradicate the eastern tribes because they constructed an altar on their shore. The western tribes were willing to do this because they believe that there should only be one altar for the LORD; which at that time was on the western side.

Now in the time of Micah, the tabernacle is in Shiloh; which is not so very far from his town. Micah also had an ephod which is a garment for priests only, in his possession. He also had some idols, aside from what his mother 'donated' to his shrine.

Micah violated the Priestly code when he installed one of his sons as priest. Only the house of Aaron can function as priests.

6In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

7A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, 8left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim.

9Micah asked him, “Where are you from?”

I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah,” he said, “and I’m looking for a place to stay.”

10Then Micah said to him, “Live with me and be my father and priest, and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food.” 11So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man was to him like one of his sons. 12Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. 13And Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.”

After sometime, a Levite joined Micah and became his priest. Again, Micah made another violation of the priestly code when he installed the Levite. Only priests can install/consecrate another priest.

Finally we read of Micah's declaration that the LORD will be good to him for what he has done.

Now we ask the question, How can this person (and his mother) say they are devotees of the LORD after all the things that they have done?

So how do we make sense of this passage?
First we have to understand that Micah belongs to a generation that has a distorted understanding of the LORD. We read in Judges 2:10,

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.

Second, Israel's partial obedience has allowed some of the surrounding nations to remain. These nations has somehow exerted influence on the Israelites, instead of the other way around.

Finally, we need to realize that these last chapters of the book of Judges, where our passage belongs, is a treaty justifying the need for monarchical rule. The author utilized a literary device called inclusio to drive home his point. This inclusio serves as the marker as well as a unifying theme in this last passages. If you will notice, the phrase “In those days, Israel had no king” appeared at the end of each episode within Chapters 17-21, namely 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25. The first and last occurences have added “everyone did as he saw fit”.

If we will apply Speech Act Theory to our task of interpreting this text, we'll discover that the author is pro-monarchical and either: (a)proposing a change in the current structure of the government; (b)justifying the current form of government.

Speech Act Theory is a theory of language that proposes that words are not only used to state a fact. In the past, words were measured by their truthfulness or falsity. Speech act instead focuses on what you are trying to do with the words you used. In this case, the author is not just merely describing/reporting (as in a news report) what's happening in those days. He is not just stating the fact that there was no king in Israel in those days; nor was he just commenting on “everyone did as he saw fit.” He is trying to communicate a message across. Speech act is after the “illocutionary” meaning rather than the syntactical-grammatical meaning.

If we will follow that line of reasoning, then we can now understand how the author utilized the passages in order to achieve his desired effect. However, speech act theory is not limited to human authors only. I believe that this part of the Scripture is inspired by God to be written where it is right now. I believe that God even inspired the events that our human author could use as his material for this section. The author first painted a very confused Israelites – in their worship, in their morals, and even in their inter-tribal affairs. He described chaos after chaos resulting from the slogan “each to his own”. I could say that they are anachronistic for those the very same slogan of the postmodernists; maybe we can call them primordial postmoderns. Then after each episode, he states “In those days, Israel had no king.” In effect he is saying, this is what happens when we have no leader tying us together.

Does that sound familiar to you, especially when you turn your TV on and watch the latest news?

The Philippines indeed need a leader. We need a monarchical form of government. However, I am speaking of a different sphere here. I am not proposing a change in the temporal political arena. I am speaking about the Kingdom of God.

Someone has told me, without batting an eyelash, that if we only have a Christian president in MalacaƱang, then the Philippines would be better. Yeah right.

The Philippines is in chaos right now. Although we need to address temporal issues as well, we must not lose touch with our original mandate. From the passage we saw that without a king, Israel experienced chaos. The Philippines need a king. That King is Jesus. The Philippines need monarchy. That is the Kingdom of God. Let us not forget that.