Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Calvin and Eschatology

I'm not going to write about the great Swiss theologian John Calvin. I'm going to write about my son, Calvin Rodis Janapin.

You see, he is still in his comfortable abode -- his mother's womb. As of this time of writing, we are still in eager expectation of his coming. He is due on January 4th or 11th. It's been three weeks now that we are really on standby mode. This means that we are on a high level of alert that we can go to the hopital at any minute.

Our situation as parents expecting a child is very similar to us believers awaiting the return of our Lord. Here are some touchpoints:
  1. Exact Time Unknown. Yes, we have a general idea of when Calvin is coming but the exact time unknown. Even the best sonograms can only tell so much. Even the best expert sonogramist can only predict with a margin of error. Only God knows; maybe not even the angels. The Lord Jesus gave us signs that would tell us that his coming is near; but never the exact date. And these signs will be visible.
  2. Need for Alertness and Preparation. Both me and my wife has undergone Lamaze training. We were told what to expect and to be prepared for it. We were also told to prepare even for contingent situations. We were told to be prepared to go to the hospital at any time. We were reminded always the importance of being prepared. The Lord Jesus also instructed his disciples to be prepared at anytime. Since we do not know when his exact coming is, we need to be ready to go at anytime.
  3. Work While Waiting. My wife and I need to continue doing what we used to do while waiting for our son to come out. I have to go to my job and she has chores to accomplish. We have to practice our breathing techniques and master them. We have to prepare the baby things and keep the house clean. We cannot afford to just sit down, lie on the bed, and wait for Calvin to come out (although that would be really nice). The apostle Paul lambasted the Thessalonians for this kind of lifestyle. They were expecting the Lord's soon return too much that they quit their jobs and just waited. He even came to the point of saying "No work, no eat." We have work to do. We are expected to work while it is light; for no one can work when darkness sets in. Darkness is coming, but while there is still have light, we can go on and work. We are engaged in a Kingdom business of saving souls. We cannot afford to just sit down and wait for that glorious day of our Lord's appearing.
  4. Guard Against Laxity and Exhaustion. Me and my wife need to guard ourselves against this two extreme as we wait for Calvin's birth. First we need to look out for false security our preparations might give us. We might feel so prepared that we lower down our alert level. Second, we need to learn to relax because tightening our alertness too much may exhaust us. These two extremes are not foreign in our Christian walk. There are times that we feel spiritual that we lower down our guards, giving the enemy a target. There are also times that we become so spiritually uptight we become focus on the rules too much; too much concern on doing the right things rather than doing things right. We must learn to enjoy our relationship with the Father.
As we wait eagerly for the coming of our Lord Jesus, let us not got lost somewhere in the extremes. Let us always be ready while working; never lowering our alert level while still smelling the flowers along the way.

Have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Exchange Gifts and God's Grace

Christmas is just around the bend. With just six days remaining, many of us would be preoccupied with parties, shopping, planning, travelling, and other things. Somehow, December 25 has became a temporary portal to another world. Everything is different. There are lights everywhere. Sprawling christmas trees with gifts are common sight. Men dressed in red garment and beard can be found in malls and street corners giving out a silly laugh (although there's really nothing funny at all). The ordinary has been transformed. But is this kind of tranformation God intended Christmas would effect on mankind?

The apostle Paul meditated on the mystery of Christmas and wrote it to a young Christian church in the first century. We might be shocked to find out that its meaning has made a dramatic turn in our time. Well, it did not happen overnight. Through time, the meaning of Christmas has been vagued slowly with other things we add to it. What does Paul have to say? He said: In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law; that we might have the full rights of sons. Galatians 4:4-5. For Paul, Christmas is God's greatest plan being carried out. This plan has a purpose -- salvation of man. And this plan has been initiated by giving. God gave first. This is the essence of Christmas: God gave his Son.

Now let us examine what we practice during Christmas against what Paul had in mind. Particularly, let us focus on the practice of exchange gifts during Christmas parties; yes, even parties at church!

  1. To be a participant in the Exchange Gifts (will be shortened to EG from here on), you have to have your own gift. No gift, no part in EG.
  2. The gift has a floor price. Your gift must be above that floor price, say fifty pesos (~$1). Below that, you are kuripot; above that, you are galante.
  3. Then there will ba a sabunutan (drawing of lots) in the EG to determine who gets what.
  4. Then the participants in the EG can open their gifts while those yagit (who cannot afford the floor price and so forfeited themselves the chance to be a part of EG) can watch them.
  5. Then comes the reactions:
    • Exhillirated: they liked their gift or got more than what they gave away (ganansya sa puhunan).
    • Exasperated: dismayed by their gift or got less than what they gave away (lugi; tangay pati puhunan).
    • Ex-nihillated: They rejoice out-of-nothing i.e., ex-nihilo. They rejoice over their invisible gift; since they were ex-cluded in the EG.
Now that we have described Exchange Gifts, I would leave the next step to you, my dear reader. And my hope is that you will realize what this activity really does and what message it proclaims.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Prophets in Our Midst

Prophets and Prophecy
Whenever we hear the word prophet or prophecy, our initial mental image would be that of a fore-teller or about future events. This is because we have been conditioned by "misinformations" abounding today. Open the TV and you are immediately exposed.

Biblical prophecy is also about, but not limited to, future events. A large portion of prophetic writings deal with the current issues. The prophets speak about the present sin of the people and the consequences of it in the future. They act as God's spokespersons to the covenant people as well as to others.

Getting the Message Across
My interest is in the way they convey God's message. They usually do it poetically. The Hebrew text displays much of the prophet's artistry against the erring people's prose. Rhythm and meter are their tools to get the message across.

Another method, of which I am most interested, is via unusual actions that can really grab one's attention. The message is artistically and forefully conveyed to the intended audience. After the interest of the audience is piqued, the prophets get the chance to verbally deliver God's message. An example is the prophet Hosea who was asked to marry a wayward woman who runs after other men (even beating the she-camel in its heat). This news made headlines in Israel. When the people started asking why he did it, the prophet Hosea got his chance to tell the people God's message.

Still Alive?
Prophetic actions still occur today here in the Philippines. I always see them in the streets. And they convey powerful messages for the nation to see (thanks to modern media). They do it artistically and poetically. They grab people's attention and gets their message across. Who are they? They are the activists that march the streets to complain and air their grievances. They lie on their backs in the middle of the road. They carry with them symbols of their protests. They burn effigies. They have the attention.

Untapped Resource
I am saddened that this method of conveying a message is utilized elsewhere other than the church. I am not saying that the church should go to the streets and march, God forbid. Prophetic actions (and ministry) belong to the church. We have a message to tell. We have the answer(singular) to life's questions(plural). If there's an entity that can maximize on that method, it's us.

A New Arena
If not the streets, where? We have the pulpit. We have open-air concerts. We have community services. The venue has your imagination as its limitation. I urge each of us to think and explore; let us maximize this in the area of communicating God's message of salvation.

Both the prophets and the church has an urgent message from God. We cannot afford to dilly dally. It will be very costly.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Ang Pagdadaop Palad ng Teknolohiya at Teyolohiya

Blogs are everywhere!
Marami nang paraan ng paglalahad ng impormasyon. Umabot na tayo sa panahon na kung saan ang paglaganap ng kaalaman ay sinusukat sa pamamagitan ng segundo lamang. Malayo na nga ang ating narating kung tutuusin. Malayo na nga ba?

Kung susuriing mabuti, mayroong dalawang kategorya na negatibo ang relasyon sa isa't isa kung impormasyon ang pag-uusapan. Ito ang pagsiwalat ng kaalaman at ang tibay ng naimbak na kaalaman.

Nuong sinauna, natutunan ng ating mga ninuno ang pagsulat. Una nila itong ginawa sa bato, katunayan sa dingding ng mga kwebang tinutuluyan nila. Dahil dito ang impormasyon ay nakakulong duon sa kweba. Maliban na lamang na ito ay puntahan at dalawin, iilang tao lamang ang makakatunghay at makikinabang sa impormasyong ito. Ang positibong aspeto nito ay ang napakatagal na panahon na maaring maimbak ang impormasyon. Mababa ng pagsiwalat ng kaalaman, subalit matagal na mapapakinabangan ang impormasyon.

Natutunan din ng tao ang pagsulat sa bato. Dahil dito, tumaas ang posibilidad na maisiwalat ito ng malawakan (mga ilang kilometro) subalit bumaba naman ang tagal ng pakinabang (mga ilang dekada lamang; nababasag din ang mga bato).

Ang sumunod ay pinatuyong luwad. Mas mataas ang posibilidad ng pagsiwalat subalit mas umikli muli ang tagal ng pakinabang.

Naimbento ang papel. Dito nagkaroon ng rebolusyon sa impormasyon. Dahil sa gaan ng papel, mas madali itong dalhin sa iba't ibang lugar. Ito ang dahilan ng mas malawakan na pagsisiwalat ng kaalaman. Iyon nga lang, ang papel ay mas marupok kaysa luwad o bato, kaya ang tagal ng pakinabang ay ilang siglo lamang.

Nuong madiskubre ang electronics, panibagong rebolusyon sa impormasyon na naman ang ating naranasan. Natunghayan natin ang nakalululang pagdagsa ng kaalaman mula sa iba't ibang dako ng mundo. Milyon milyong bagong kaalaman ang nadagdag sa internet sa napakaikling panahon. Ang teknolohiyang ito ang nagbigay sa atin ng pinakamalawakang paraan ng pagsisiwalat ng kaalaman.

SUBALIT, ito ring teknolohiyang ito ang may pinakamaikling tibay ng naimbak na kaalaman. Una, ang isinulat mo ngayon ay maaring luma na agad kinabukasan. Pangalawa, ang teknolohiyang ito ay binubuo lamang ng electronic signals na napakasensitibo. Ang pagkawala ng electric power o magnetic power ay nangangahulugan ng pagkawala ng impormasyon. Hindi rin ligtas ang ilang optical devices gaya ng CDROMs na isang gasgas lang ang katapat.

Marami mang pagkukulang, ang internet at electronic media ay isang mabisang paraan ng paglalahad ng kaalaman. Tayong mga tinawag ng Diyos para maging bayan nya ay nabubuhay na ngayon sa Internet Age. Bago man ang larangang ito, dapat ay manguna tayo sa paglinang sa pamamaraang ito, upang lalo nating maikalat ang kaalaman ukol sa pagliligtas ng ating Diyos.

Kasama ba kita?