Time To Shine

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Imagine with me for a moment here.

Imagine walking through your dark kitchen at 2 in the morning in an attempt to find your fridge. Imagine having to walk through tables, chairs, and all sorts of furniture that you’d put in your kitchen. Pretty chaotic right? Bumping into stuff here and there, getting yourself hurt and bruised because of every hit and bump. Adding to that, you don’t really know where you’re going. But then you discovered a flashlight lying around, the flashlight’s light now being the first thing you seek. Now because of that flashlight, things start to become clearer. You now have a guide in your walk going to that refrigerator.

When walking in faith, believe it or not, we too walk in world caught about in darkness and we too have a light to follow so that we can be guided, no longer having to walk in that darkness.

You guys getting me? No? Take a look!!

  1. Called out of the dark
  • Sin is just so so self-destructive. It could, 1.) hurt other people 2.) in some cases, hurt one’s self and 3.) ultimately, hurt your relationship with God. We used to walk side by side with sin before encountering Christ and though this verse doesn’t explicitly state it, it could be seen in John 8: 12 (“… I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”). The word ‘follow’ suggests that there’s an invitation to be guided by His light because question: Would He ask us to follow Him if we’re already walking with Him? He offers Himself as a constant guide and calls us out of darkness. As His followers, we no longer walk in the dark, but in His light.
  1. Repelling the darkness
  • So we heard that with Christ, we no longer walk in darkness. But what is a light’s function in the dark? Going back to that play of imagination we had just a while ago, we saw how a flashlight’s light acted as our guide to find our way around the kitchen. But what is this darkness that the Bible speaks about? Just as the flashlight’s light repels the darkness, so does Jesus’ light repel the darkness of sin (“… He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” -John 8: 12). Like how the sun is our natural light, He is our spiritual light that enables us to see and exposes sin.
  • But so now what that we now see? Let’s use the imagination game awhile ago for another analogy. Because of the flashlight, we now are able to see the way towards the fridge and the obstacles (e.g. furniture) are exposed. Since the furniture are exposed because of the light, we now know what to avoid so that we don’t bump into anything. Same way with sin. Now that Jesus has enabled us to see, we now avoid ways of sin and now seek and follow righteousness (“… He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” -John 8: 12).
  1. We are also light of the world
  • Jesus’ light repels sin in our lives so that we may not walk in darkness and in turn, he gives us the light of life. Now what does that mean? It means that we too should be light of the world and should be able to reflect His light to other people. Again. Flashlight example… Once you shine a flashlight into a mirror, that mirror reflects the flashlight’s light for other people to also see. The main function of the mirror now is to reflect the flashlight’s light. Same way with us. Now that we have the light of life from Him, we are then called to reflect His light to other people for them to see how we move about this world as we give God glory. It was probably said best when Jesus called His disciples the light of the world (“You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5: 14, 16).

Try doing this at home. This time, instead of lights out, finding the flashlight, your life exists in this broken dark world. Now, find that flashlight. Where do you think it is?

-Yji Cataluna

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Zac BUSY-nio, Have Mercy on Me

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Last week was the fiery inferno of all periods in Ateneo, FINAL EXAMINATIONS.  Those happened in May, but thinking about them felt like Halloween came early this year.  The evil sasquatch even existed in the form of a 14-page report on predicting IMdB ratings of Yu-Gi-Oh after two decades.

Thus, everyone became busy, a valid reaction since the tests make up a huge chunk of our final grades.  Unless you’re exempted, failure to complete the exams means a close-to-100-percent probability of a permanent F in your transcript of records.  Definitely, you would not let anyone–friends, family, school, company HR managers–know that you messed up big time.  Otherwise, you can kiss your million-dollar dream goodbye.  The pressure is on in college; those last four years of becoming a student are the necessary preparations for each potential undergraduates to bring food on top of the table.

All these were in my head–my Latin honors, my career, my family, my future–until everything became my world.  I was busy to teach my brother exponential growth, which came out in his Math final the following day.  I was even busy to read all 100+ text messages and chats from my mother who was worried sick for me everyday.

Yes, I was that busy for everything about me.  Too busy.  Miserable, right?

Despite that whole commotion, Jesus completely understands, for He Himself was also busy during His walk on earth.  The difference was that He was busy for others.  While He was in Judea, He mentioned the parable of the Good Samaritan who “proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers” (Luke 10:36, ESV).  Here’s what I got:

  1. Everyone saw the half-dead man.

“Now by chance, a priest was going that road, and when he saw him….(Luke 10:31, ESV)

“So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him….” (Luke 10:32, ESV)

“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him….” (Luke 10:33, ESV)

Everyone had seen the man, stripped, beaten, injured, thieved, and broken by robbers in the road to Jericho.  Clearly, he had a face of a victim who might not live for another day through his last sands of time.  That insight is valid because the three saw the man.  A note to consider is that the three are a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan who came to the same route but was not beaten up by robbers.  Hence, two realities have come to play, “victors” and a victim in the road to Jericho.

Similarly, we have two realities in our hands–Filipinos vs. those who are not Filipinos, students of Ateneo de Manila University vs. those who are not of the college, politicians vs. those who are not politicians.  The analogy may be offensive to some, but it has shed light on the existence of a reality beyond me–me vs. those who are not like me.  We recognize an outside reality if we see it.  Then, the world today is not really my world after all.

  1. Doing nothing means you are busy doing nothing.

“…he [the priest] passed by on the other side.” (Luke 10:31, ESV)

“…[the Levite] passed by on the other side.” (Luke 10:32, ESV)

How can one be busy?  If he has mountains of papers to do?  If he cancels all socializations?  If he leaves a million googols of text messages with no replies at all?

For the entire week of my final examinations, I was married to my cue cards for pointers and summaries of lessons.  In the middle of my writing, a Facebook bump sounded my laptop, with a message from a close friend, inviting me to a gym-and-swimming session at 6PM.  My working out and doing laps with him hours later “un-busied” myself, stopping my final preparations and burning my fats and toning my muscles with him.   Hence, to know that I am busy with A, I must stop doing A to do B.

In the same way, the priest and the Levite were busy doing nothing unconsciously.  Upon seeing the half-dead man, they returned to whatever they were doing, walking through the road to Jericho.  Hence, they were busy without being aware they were.  Comparatively, the Samaritan played his character differently:

“…and when he [the Samaritan] saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.” (Luke 10:33,34, ESV)

Thus, the Samaritan “un-busied” himself from walking down the road and became busy in covering up the wounds of the half-dead man.  The transition, then, is from being busy for me to being busy for others.

  1. Show mercy.

“’Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’  He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’  And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:36,37, ESV)

One note to be aware of is that the scholar’s answer is not the Samaritan but a general definition of a neighbor, “the one who showed him mercy.”  Hence, to piece together everything discussed, to be merciful is to un-busy oneself to be busy for others.  This gives a proper foreshadow of the un-busying to come–Jesus un-busied His humanity to be busy for the salvation of all.  The ultimate un-business is His death on the cross.  He stopped being pure to become sin so that through Him, we can be as white as snow.

Tell me.  Who is that neighbor in your life?  Who is that one person whom you want to be a neighbor to? ~ Zachary Bisenio

Need A Drink?

medium_out-of-your-heart-will-flow-rivers-of-living-water-tkiyeodrWhen we get thirsty, where do we go to?

Water.

That is commonly true, but we end up complicating stuff with energy drinks or sodas that have us end up even thirstier most of the time.

Isn’t it cool that this is also how we walk in faith? Here’s why:

  • A thirst always demands satisfaction.

You’ll see athletes bringing jugs of water to the courts or gym rats carrying their tumblers to the gym to beat dehydration.

How does one beat spiritual thirsts though? To whom or to what do we run to when we feel something missing in our lives? Something missing and just craves for satisfaction? I think everyone, including myself, has been guilty of running to material things or to people to dive into their happy places. ‘Yong tipong “savior” ng buhay nila, pero hindi talaga Savior ng buhay nila. What happens then if that “savior” falls apart? Wala na.  However, when we run to the Savior, He’s sure to satisfy, with guarantee (…. If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” -John 7:37).

  • Jesus is sure to satisfy our thirst.

So we saw that He’s sure to give the water that quenches. Give, meaning it’s a gift. Gift, meaning there’s nothing to earn or nothing we could do to acquire it. Jesus is sure to satisfy our thirst. I guess the only ‘condition’ in obtaining this gift is to really thirst for it or have a need for it because, well, if you stay thirsty, you die. Just like how our body sees water as a need, so does our souls see God as one. Also, it’s not just mere water that He’ll let our hearts will flow with, but RIVERS OF THE LIVING WATER! The Bible did say that Jesus is the bread of life and the living water, so this is Him telling us that He is with those who partake in Him (“He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of His heart, will flow rivers of living water” -John 7: 38). Keep in mind that He used the term ‘BELIEVE.’ That’s what it means to be saved by grace through faith. That’s what it means to ‘drink’ from Christ.

  • Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in this passage. As a matter of fact, the passage is called “The Promise of the Holy Spirit” in the New King James Version of the Bible. This promise has yet to be fulfilled in this scenario in a sense that He isn’t coming down until Jesus has been glorified (But He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit has not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” -John 7: 39). Jesus promised that He’d send all of us the Holy Spirit and He is alive in us right now since Jesus has conquered the grave.

The feeling of having Him there, telling you, “Anak, I got you!,” is like a super great feeling. After all, He did display that kind of love on the cross, not allowing us to suffer the second death.

-Yji Cataluna

The Bible Does Not Need a Charger

ZACHARY ZACHARYBISENIO

Again, I know I humiliated myself, so just shusshhhhh.

Oh right, translations:
“There is no ‘forever’.  She is the only one I can love.”
“Sir, there is really no ‘forever’.  You’re holding a cellphone, not a Bible.”

Despite the ridiculousness of the one in the photos (someone I clearly do not know), their prevalent thought is about the existence of a “forever” depending on what he is holding.

I got this from a student’s recent loss in his extemporaneous speaking competition.  Let’s name him “Ariana Grande”.  Last Saturday, Ariana talked about intellectualizing the Filipino language.  After three minutes, he ended his speech and stepped out of the room, remarking his talk as that with “convincing points and effective supports”.  His “I got this” swagger has roots from his previous speaking contest, placing him as Champion among more than 20 schools in the region.  In fact, he sent me a photo of his holding a six-inch-tall trophy with a red “CHAMPION” as its engraving.  That assures him of a similar sweet victory.  Unfortunately, that victory turned out to be a bitter-y.  Ranked nowhere near the top three, he arrived home one evening, went to his bedroom, and soaked his pillow with a gallon of tears.  While on the “Dead Sea”, he cried, “If only I can do better…”  How disappointing that his reign as a champion did not last forever!

In the Biblical perspective, that situation reveals how God tests His children – He uses “objects” of utmost significance.  These may be a cellphone containing memorable love messages, a friend who is “closer than a sister”, a trophy whom one has hugged like a teddy bear, or a picture of Justin Bieber’s abs on the front cover of his album.  King David presents God’s emphasis on the foundations of such objects:

“If foundations are destroyed, what can the just one do?” (Psalms 11:3, NABRE)

The outcome is that that “just one” will either stand or fall.  In life, we want us to remain standing amidst the challenges hurled towards us.  That ambition depends on the grounds where we are standing.  Therefore, what we need is to stand on something permanent, resolute, enduring, and persistent, which is the Word of God.  Hey, we are talking about the very words of the Creator of the Heavens and the Universe.  Why stand on a cellphone – waiting for her reply – if it’s going to be drain anyway?  The Bible does not need a battery; it needs your faith. 🙂 ~ Zachary Bisenio

Hey, An Eagle can be Humble

Zac

Here’s me, trying to be funny.  Ridiculous?  Too obnoxious?  Too pompous of me? Yeah, just roll with it.

However, the prevalent thought of the image is: “Even if you are smart, handsome, or hunky, all of these mean nothing if you are prideful.”

I got this from my father who hired a graduate from a provincial university (who was not proficient in English and not of a rich stature) and fired that from the top national college (who was also the top among the trainees).  He viewed the former as “hard-working”, for one eight in the morning, he started seeing the provincial graduate, walking around the whole Lipa City to accommodate assigned doctors in the area.  My father, then, recommended him for regularity because of the hard work manifested in his two-kilometer “Death March”. Consequently, he became a UNILAB awardee for being the top performing worker in the company.  In contrast,  my father remarked the latter as disobedient to instructions despite his applauding performance in training, the usual excuses being the venue is “too far” from the latter’s home, and working for a “lower”-university graduate is a “waste of time”.

Comparatively, the Bible presents a similar view on the mistreating of Edom towards the Israelites despite the filial relationship between the two kingdoms.  Obadiah prophesied of the coming humility of the former city as a result of their turning the latter to Babylon:

Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
though your nest is set among the stars,
from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord (Obadiah 1:4)

Unfortunately, this verse gave me the creeps, for my school mascot was an eagle.  Nonetheless, the text reveals the consistent despise of God towards pride.  The abstract concept implies the growing capability of man to do things on his own, resulting in his taking the credit to himself.  However, disappointments (from the verse, “I will bring you down”) will arise since our limited capabilities yield limited results.  In fact, the use of a nest assumes the eagle’s picking up branches from the earth to form its home.  Hence, the character “down to earth” exists.  Therefore, what we need to manifest to attain unlimited results in 2016 is humility.  The fact that “I will bring you down” was declared by the Lord means that humility must come from Him.  Hey, why not make “to be more humble” as a New Year’s Resolution?  Try asking Him for help. ~Zachary Bisenio 🙂

Zach

I am Adorable

Pizap

“Add me in Facebook… I am add-orable…”

Then come the hyena-like jeers and ear-popping shrieks of teenagers over the Beatles hair, chubby face, and toothless smile of the seven-year-old me (west photo).  In fact, my panda-like body a decade ago became a reason for my “adorable” childhood.  Mothers of my kindergarten classmates jumped on their tip toes when they spotted me, dancing to Otso Otso like a baby bear.  Teachers fuzzed in class whenever they detected me on my chair and wished, “Zac is so cute if only I can chew him right now.”  Even a female college student from my provincial school sprinted a half-mile path away from her course mates to me, readying her flawless cheeks for my twenty saliva-filled kisses.  However, I had no clue of people’s entertainment over my fat “adorable” body.

Unfortunately, a decade after – a period where I become Muscle Man (east photo) – comes a linguistic change of “adorable”.  Non-exposure to XXX, FHM, and other pornographic materials results in, “Zac, that is so cute.”  Empty-mindedness to the connotations of “exchanging positions”, “dancing in the night”, “69”, and passing a finger through a hole to and fro rapidly implies, “Zac, you are such a good kid.”  Turning my head to a 45-degree tilt to a friend’s rephrasing of Nicki Minaj’s SUPER BASS to SUPERB *** insinuates, “Zac, you are so holy.”  Hence, being “adorable” means being “cute”, “good”, and “holy” for one’s cluelessness of indecency.

However, 1 Corinthians 14:20 says:

Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature (ESV).

We are living in a world where everything is permissible – from hard-core pornography to pre-marital sex.  In fact, these acts are results of man’s free will to satisfy the pleasures of the flesh.  Since our muscles and fats will soon be consumed by rats and worms, then such desires are temporal.  Hence, we are also living in a green-blue-and-white oblate spheroid temporarily.  This theory becomes a string to the above text – being infants to temporality and adults to eternity.  Such adults support the essence of self-maturity in terms of one’s thoughts.  Galatians 6:8 states:

…but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (ESV).

Therefore, our thoughts have to be filled by the Holy Spirit in order to be mature in the eyes of God who will open the gates of heaven for the coming of His “adorable” children.

“Add the Holy Spirit… He makes me add-orable…” 🙂 ~ Zachary Bisenio

God Knows How to Play COC

COC

Most young people, even those who feel like one, have grown fond of expanding their territories, blitzkrieg-ing defenseless players, and looting 1 000 000 coins and 500 000 elixir drops to become the best chief in the game of Clash of Clans.

This strategy hormone-oozer is designed for competitive players to upgrade their respective clans to those similar to the Great Reich in World War II and the British Brigade in the 19th century.  In order to do that, players can set their swordsmen, archers, goblins, and wizards around enemy territories and commence the clash.  Armies then slash and shoot at garrisons, bomb defenses, crush edifices, and summon pixie dusts and magic flares to opponents’ properties and battalions.  Once everything is turned to ashes, the screen then goes “VICTORY,” with five gold stars, added loots and trophies, and bonus EXP. Hooray!

If these were the scenarios of modern players, then God must be the best chief of the game.  In fact, He did not even call skeletons from the grave, give them Bomberman’s explosives, and make opposing tribes’ town halls go “KABOOM”.  According to 1 Samuel 17, He only used one short, young, armor-less David at the center of the Israelite-Philistine battlefield.  Excruciatingly, he had only a bag of “five smooth stones” (17:40) and a “sling” (17:40) to fight against the nine-foot champion, Goliath of Gath.  Gamers might say, “Are you sick and crazy? Israel’s an Is-a-loser for sure.”  Fortunately, the giant fell to the ground at David’s first “stone strike” to the forehead, and the latter cut the former’s head so that “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (17:46).

Let’s ponder.  If God empowered David to kill Goliath by the force of one stone, how much more will He strengthen you and me to kill our giants in life by the force of His Word.  Ephesians 6:13 describes the whole armor of God with purposes “to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm”.  Therefore, when we face our “Goliath” in life, through His armor, we can stand firm and retaliate by throwing our stones at them.  In fact, who is the best COC player anyway? 🙂

Zachary Bisenio

Acknowledgment: https://lh3.ggpht.com/a_zUJVbmkSHuRH0bpFbhDW99wV1cyoY-LpGO8kq-mpZQokkUK5-FWiOQyY2VVTSrVQI=h900