Monday, December 26, 2011

Who's afraid of 2012? (Expecting for the best of things to happen is why the year 2012 will be a much better year than 2011)




"The experience of each new age requires a new confession, and the world seems always waiting for its poet"--Ralph Waldo Emerson




With only just a few days left to the new year and 2011 will be finally closed down, a lot of people would probably be asking about what the year 2012 may bring. 2011 brought us wars, calamities, and other negative things. But, of course, it has also brought us many good things and, as we went through all of it, we either became bitter or better persons. The way we respond to both the negative and positive things define us who we are and what we will become.

The year 2012, according to the Mayan calendar, is the point in time where a new cycle takes place. Some people have misunderstood or misinterpreted this to be such that it is thought or believed as the end of the world or doomsday. But who's afraid of 2012?

I was thinking about the movie I watched two years ago called "2012" which only added all the hype and more. The movie, to some degree, may have struck a point but the fact that it's only a fiction, remains a fiction. If  we are going to base it in the Bible, nobody knows of the exact date and time of Christ's second coming except God the Father alone. It is during that time when all things will be made new and Christ will reign as king for the redeemed people of God forever.

There's nothing to be afraid about the year 2012. Instead of worrying about it, let us all pray and expect for the best of things to happen and make it a much better year than the previous one. We can make it better and, as the clock hits 12 midnight on December 31st, a new year unfolds for all of us to do what many good things we failed to do in the year that's passed.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why we have to celebrate Christmas?


While there are some people who will discourage us from celebrating Christmas citing reasons like the wrong date of Christ's birth issue, not biblical, extension of old pagan belief, and more, I would like to stress out my point why we have to celebrate so in spite of that. Christmas is celebrated by more than two billion people worldwide each year. Some non-Christian countries have also already adopted the  Christmas tradition making it all the more colorful and rich, uniting cultures and people for one big celebration. Though we can't avoid the fact that Christmas season nowadays have somewhat became too commercialized, its true essence still is the one that is important. The following are just some of the few reasons why we have to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts:

1. Christmas has all the good intentions. There's nothing wrong about doing something good for the good reasons. Christmas centers on Christ's birth and it has become a symbol of hope for all of us to embrace.

2. Christmas encourages us to selflessly give or share to others of what we have or ourselves. While most of us wished to receive the best of gifts in a Christmas party, it is in the exchanging of it that counts the most.

3. Christmas promotes peace and harmony. In the Philippines, the government declared a ceasefire agreement with the rebels within the Yuletide season period. This is to make sure that Christmas celebration will be more peaceful than any other time of the year.

4. Christmas is thanksgiving. Now who's going to try to argue that thanksgiving should not fall on Christmas Day just because it is not biblical? Thanksgiving should be done, if I were to suggest, everyday of the year. But there's nothing wrong doing it on Christmas Day either. Perhaps one of the reasons why Christ didn't reveal to us the exact or accurate date of his birth is that he wants us to remember and observe it everyday of the year with Christmas Day being the main event.

5. Christmas is to recognize Jesus's birth just as we also observe his death and resurrection. The exact or accurate date of his birth may be important, but the way we submit ourselves to actually observe and make it special is everything. Just because we don't know the exact or accurate date of Christ's birth doesn't mean we don't have to celebrate at all. God will be much more delighted with the goodness we can do and give to others than to try to hardly impose upon ourselves rules that only keep good things from happening. Merry Christmas to one and all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Killer floods hit the Philippines again


When God had set the first rainbow in the sky as a sign of His eternal covenant with Noah and his family to never again destroy the world with water, it doesn't  mean that floods would be totally wiped out from the face of the earth. Yet the entire world is guaranteed to never again experience the same magnitude of that great deluge that costs all of humanity except Noah and his family, though. Floods are natural calamities resulting from having too much water than what a particular place or area can contain.

Last week's typhoon "Sendong" that struck most of the Northern Mindanao areas in the Philippines especially in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan have caused floods (flash floods in some areas) that killed hundreds of people and counting. My heart broke when I saw in the news the dead bodies especially those of innocent children scattered everywhere drenched in thick mud. How devastating Sendong has been to these people two weeks short of celebrating Christmas Day.

Most calamities happened and struck when we least expect them. They often caught us off-guard and it will be too late to make the necessary move to avoid or bring ourselves to safety. We can only hope and pray and provide whatever help we can to all of the victims and their families. Death may have taken the precious lives of our loved ones but they will remain in our hearts forever. Someday, the pain and trauma will be completely gone, wounds heal, and a smile once again beaming in everyone's face like this horrible thing is not happening.

I would like to share to you a poem of my original composition titled "There comes a flood, flowers may die". I hope one can find this poem to be such inspiring. Click here to read the poem.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why do some relationships fail? (A personal approach to making relationships work)

I think it's a very old question that the answers have been said and done for the countless times already. Why do, in fact, some relationships fail? Yet, by trying to tackle such a topic once more, I would like to share to you some of my personal opinions and insights by which I hope anyone who reads could relate or reflect with at. Relationships fail for some reasons, but it's always worth restoring. The following are just some of the very reasons relationships would collapse:

1. Impatience. We must acknowledge the fact that patience is a virtue. When misunderstanding erupts in a relationship it is wise to keep your cool. Slow down your temper. Talk it all out to your partner or the person you have made quarrel with and always tone down your voice without sacrificing what you would like to point out to settle the disagreement. Good conversation is very important but a heartfelt, open communication is a necessity. It will serve as the vehicle to sorting things out for good. Open communication brings out a positive impact to bridging the differences where walls are slowly building up to further isolate one from the other.

2. Pride. Pride is a hindrance to reconciliation. It can only block what has been shut between two parties all the more. Cut down your pride and start making the first step towards reconciliation.

3. Lack of will. Many relationships could have been saved from breaking up only if either of both parties has the will to actually fix it. Be motivated to do what is necessary and do not rely it on chance. Things could happen because we let them.

4. Being selfish or self-centered. To a certain degree, it is good to love our own selves. But it is best to extend our love to others. Love's most common character is generosity. Sometimes in a relationship we forgot what is love all about and, as a result, we became over demanding in the process. To love is to give a portion or a whole of ourselves selflessly to others.

5. Unforgiving heart. Learn to forgive no matter how big or small the offense being committed. To forgive is not about tolerating or to give someone a chance to do the same mistakes again but to accept the fact that what's done is done and to try to repair what has been broken. Time, it has been said, heals, but forgiveness do a lot more than just healing. It brings a relationship back in the light of truth and strengthens it.

6. Lack of Divine guidance. Last but the greatest, always ask for God's guidance. Pray it all out to the Lord. Ask Him to bless your relationship with someone and make it last. Prayers coupled with the right actions are a very potent problem-solver, be it in relationships or just any other field of human endeavor.

I would like to also share to you a poem (actually a sonnet) of my original composition about why a relationship fails. Click here to read the poem.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christ's birth, death, and resurrection: the complete fulfillment of a Divine Promise

There was a war in Heaven long time ago when Lucifer, the choicest of God'd angels, wanted to take God's throne in a coup attempt he launched with his converts. He was later on called the Satan or the Devil and, after his forces were defeated, he exiled himself away from God's Heavenly Kingdom. The struggle between the forces of Good and Evil began since then.

It was evident from the very beginning that God permits us to use and exercise our free will. He could have destroyed Satan forever in that war in Heaven but yet He allowed him to roam for a time to follow his chosen path. No wonder why in the Garden of Eden, although He has given Adam and Eve His instruction, He allowed them to freely choose which fruit of the tree to be eaten and which fruit of the tree that was forbidden. Disobedience from God's instruction, as the result of Satan's deception to the first human beings, paid a very high price.

Right after Adam and Eve's fall at Eden the ultimate plan for redemption was already set up. There must be a sacrificial lamb, a ransom to reconcile man with God once and for all. It was told in Genesis 3:15 about Christ's role being the fulfillment of a Divine Promise for Redemption and to finally destroy Satan by crashing him in the head, as what was God warned the serpent: "and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel."

Christ symbolism appeared many times in the Bible long before he was actually born. The High Priest Melchizedek, whose origin was unknown, resembled much of Christ when he took bread and a cup of wine just like what Jesus did in the Last Supper with his disciples (Genesis 14:18-20): "and Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was [is] the priest of the Most High God. And he blessed him (Abram who later named as Abraham), and said, 'Blessed be Abram to the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand'. And he gave him tithe from all." During the time of Moses, when the Israelites were wandering around the desert and serpents attacked them, God instructed him to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole (Numbers 21:8): "The Lord said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.'"

Christ's birth was prophesied by the Prophets especially Isaiah but most of the people during that time and also after that failed to recognize about the importance of such a prophecy and, even in the time of the Messiah's birth, they failed to recognize him. How lucky we are today because we have Christmas to celebrate about. We must, therefore, radiate to others the true meaning of Christmas so that all our hearts will be filled with much love, joy, and understanding. Christ will finally destroy the Evil in the End of Days.

Monday, December 12, 2011

In the Philippines it's called "sinuglaw"

Locally called as "sinuglaw" is actually what comes out of combining the two words "sinugba" (usually grilled pork) and "kinilaw" (raw fish meat flavored with spices). I first tasted about this high-protein Filipino food sometime in my high school years and it has since captivated my taste. It is best served with sweet potatoes or with just plain rice.

Sinuglaw has a distinctive flavor that makes you salivate and to crave for more. It's perfect for beach picnic but also for other occasions. Sinuglaw is a yummy as well as one of the best of comfort foods.

Here's how to prepare the sinuglaw:

1. Grilled pork (about two kilos but also depending on how much you're going to consume).
2. Small cubes of sliced fresh tuna meat. The ratio is 50:50. So if you grilled two kilos of pork, the tuna meat slices should also be weighing two kilos.
3. Slice the cooked grilled pork into small pieces and put inside the salad bowl.
4. Put the small cubes of tuna meat on a separate bowl. Add with vinegar and other spices. After all of the spices have been added and mixed up, pour it in the salad bowl where the grilled pork is and mix well. One of the secrets is in the proper mixing of the right spices.
5. Adding mayonnaise is optional. Sinuglaw is now ready to be served and eaten.

With only two weeks to go before Christmas, sinuglaw will be served side by side with roasted pig and other delicacies in most Filipino tables during the Noche Buena and the Media Noche. The merry making could reach fever pitch as the season peaks but to drink and eat moderately is always a wise choice. Forget about the roasted turkey, kebabs, or spaghetti, etcetera, and take a bite of what is OFF--Original Filipino Food. Sinuglaw is available in some native Filipino restaurants countrywide.

Monday, December 5, 2011

5 things everyone must know about Christmas

While the exact and accurate date of Christ's birth is until now a subject for debate, many Bible scholars and historians believed that Jesus was born sometime in the month of September or October just before the onset of winter. The Bible has mentioned in Luke chapter 2 about the angels of God appearing to the shepherds in the desert informing them of the birth of the Messiah. The month of December would be just too cold for anyone to stay outdoor and this has led to the conclusion that December is not the month of Christ's birth.

It was the Western Christian Church in the early-to-mid 4th century which has set the fixed date, and for all the faithful to observe and celebrate the birth of Christ, on December 25th. It is better to observe or celebrate the birth of Christ on the wrong date than to never celebrate at all. What's more important is for us to acknowledge God's greatest gift to mankind and to be thankful for that. Christmas should not only be observed on the 25th of December but throughout everyday of the year.

Christmas brings all of those wonderful things back to memory. It reminds us of the joy, peace, and love for one another once more in this becoming increasingly indifferent and unforgiving world. The following are just five of the things I would like people to know about Christmas:

1. Christmas is for love. One of my favorite Bible verses in John 3:16 said: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

2. Christmas is for hope. It is to give hope to the little and innocent ones. During Christ's infancy, Herod the great, King of Judea, ordered the killing of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem in his desperate attempt to stop the Messiah being prophesied to become the new King of the Jews.

3. Christmas is for healing and forgiveness. Just as Christ forgives us, so we must also forgive those who have done us wrong.

4. Christmas is for thanksgiving.

5. Christmas is to worship Him. Just as the three wise men who traveled a long journey guided only by a bright star just to worship the baby Jesus and offered Him precious gifts, so must we.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The world's longest Christmas

The Philippines has the world's longest Christmas celebration which officially starts on December 16 and ends in the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th of January of the succeeding year. A nine-day dawn mass called "Misa de Gallo" will be observed from December 16 to 24. Originally, during the Spanish-era Philippines, it was a night mass or locally called as the "Simbang Gabi". Church authorities later on changed the schedule making it at dawn instead as parishioners (many of whom traveled long distance of miles) during that time found it difficult to go home very late into the night.

On Christmas Eve, a midnight mass will be offered. After the mass, families and relatives gather together around the dining table, and when grace and prayers have been said and done, feast voluptuously on the delicious foods. This is what we called "Noche Buena". It defines the rich Filipino tradition and the true spirit of a Philippine Christmas: thanksgiving, family reunion, sharing, joy, celebration, hope and, most importantly, love.

Another midnight mass will be observed on the 31st of December, New Year's Eve. It would be much of the same as the Noche Buena although it's called the "Media Noche". There will be firecrackers making most of the noise everywhere and a fireworks display exploding into the night sky allowing spectators to get a first glimpse of a brand new year as it unfolds.

Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a day for the sharing of love, joy, hope, and goodwill to all mankind. Nobody knows for the exact date of Christ's birth, but even such can't prevent us from acknowledging and to actually celebrate it. The Philippines may have the longest Christmas celebration in the world, yet we can make it everyday of the year if we'd like to.

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