The Year-End Exercise In Stupidity

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A few hours before 2013, most will be celebrating the New Year with fireworks and firecrackers. In the Philippines, legal and illegal firecrackers cause injury, property damage, and worse, pollution – both air and noise.

I couldn’t understand why, after the existense of the Clean Air Act, do we still allow the firecracker industry and it’s clients to continue polluting the very fragile environment we have. Aren’t there enough smoke-belching buses along EDSA that we need still need to pollute the air yearly? I don’t want to inhale poisonous fumes while celebrating. That’s not my idea of fun.

And it’s really stupid to think that we can ward off evil spirits and usher in luck by creating so much noise. If the religious leaders would just get their act together, they’d teach their followers that life isn’t ruled by luck and other superstitions. If parents were really responsible, they’d discourage their kids from this dangerous and irritable practice. If the government just did it’s job… oh, well.

So off I go to the hotel where I can have peace and quiet and clean air. It’ll give me time to reflect on the past year and plan for the new one. Oh, and i’ll watch the news for firecracker accidents that show mutilated body parts and kids crying and drunk adults being amputated. These people ritually leave their brains on standby mode during this time of year – reason enough for being in the news as part of another statistic.

Happy New Year.

One More Way To Steal

Though no stranger to the Greenhills Shopping Center, we go there for the first time for some last-minute Christmas shopping. Inside, we sort of systematically go through the aisles looking for what need. There’s a wide assortment of items i’d have loved to go through but we didn’t have enough time for that.

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The branded items there (clothing, shoes, & accessories) are mostly knock-offs from China which explains the low price which you can even haggle on. You can really dress yourself up in ‘designer clothing’ and not go broke in the process.

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But my wife and I are not brand-conscious. As long as it fits, looks good, is comfortable and affordable, that’s what we buy.

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We’re not rich so we look for good bargains. But in doing so, we don’t buy knock-offs/counterfeits. You see we don’t want to steal another person’s property – which is what one does when one buys a knock-off.

A Taste of Humble Pie

Manny’s defeat devastated us. After eight world titles, millions of dollars in prize money, years of fame and political influence, Manny Pacquiao kisses the floor following a vicious shot from Juan Manuel Marquez. Yesterday, the best fighter left the ring a winner while the other suffered a humiliating defeat.

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His courage and dedication to the sport has been tested and his world titles prove it. But now is the time for his much publicized faith in God to undergo testing. If it is real, it will pass the test. And the first part of that test is to become NOTHING.

Nobody. In the world’s eyes, a loser or a has-been. From someone of influence to anonimity. Because in God’s scheme of things, a person full of himself and his achievements is useless in Kingdom work.

Many believe that a person’s power & influence would get you into the highest places where the Word can be preached. That people will listen to your message because of who you are. If that’s the case, then they’re saying that God’s Word and God’s Spirit are insufficient to reach out to the lost and God needs the help of millionaires and politicians.

But the Message is sufficient because “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, (1 Timothy 3:16)”. 

God’s concern is the condition of the vessel by which His message is sent. God uses empty vessels. And, yes, even cracked pots.

John the Baptist could’ve made himself a brand name but willingly stepped aside in favor of the coming Christ, who in John’s words, “… is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.”  The religious leaders of their day considered Peter & John unschooled and yet these two ministered in power because the religious noted that these men spent time with Christ. The apostle Paul considered all his accomplishments and pedigree pure rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. And there are other relevant models we can learn from.

As for many boxers, answering the bell was easy for Manny. He trained long and hard for that. But the call he must answer now is God’s, and if Manny is the Christian he says he is, he will have to train long and hard in God’s camp, according to God’s program, before God can effectively use him for service.

Yes, service. Because there is a higher calling than being world champion – and that is being God’s Servant.

"for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. (1 Peter 5:5b)"