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

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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

The Father of Man

        “‘Did God…say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'” – Gen. 3:1 (NLT)

        Then goes the famous story of the Fall of Man: the woman eats the “apple”, the man eats the “apple”,God curses the slithering lizard, and the couple says goodbye to dear paradise.  The End.

        Indeed, the text portrays the Deity as “anti-sin”.  From the texts:

                I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy…. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living                    from it…. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return… – Gen. 3:16-19 (NLT)

certainly, he “loves” sins.  These reveal how God is just especially when punishments are due. However, behind the banishment is a father who is not only a just God but also a heavenly “daddy”.

        Firstly, God is concerned with His lost children.  Genesis 3:8 reveals His care for the two through his “‘Where are you?'”  If a three-year-old daughter got scrambled up in a crowd in the train station, the first instinct of a parent is to cry “Where are you, Chris?”  Similarly, when God sees his children absent in the garden of Eden, His instinct is to stride through paradise and call “‘Where are you?'”

        Secondly, God pacifies.  Genesis 3:20 tells readers of God’s making of “clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife”.  Despite the eternal banishment, the Father “lessens” the punishment by simple means of clothing His children.  Similarly, after a mother’s spanking her five-year-old son for breaking her precious vase, “mommy” still bakes him brownies after supper and rinses his mud-filled underwear 24/7.  Thus, in spite of every pain in the hides of Adam and Eve, God still loves them.

        Indeed, God is a Heavenly Father who cares and pacifies for His children.  Every gong of 12:00 M.N. means God’s success in creating another day for Chris, Anna, Mark, and the millions of His children around the world.  In the face of sheer discipline from the wrath of SPANKton, God remains a loving “daddy”.  However, the gong of my mother’s voice of “Lunch Time” means I need to go before she gives me a SPANKton.  Oh well, at least rib-eyed stake is on the menu for the today. Haha!

Acknowledgement: http://blog.febc.org/wp-content/uploads/son-father-reading.jpg

Dads Don’t Make Sense, or Do They?

Image

Youngsters, even those who entered that stage before adolescence, probably had an experience where the decisions of their fathers do not make any sense at all. Instances in my life related to the confusion are my dad’s choices of not allowing me to take the NC III Bookkeeping Exam of TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) and to enroll in the MAGIS Academy for tutorials about my college Mathematics. I planned up my summer to become a productive person before I begin my tertiary education in the Philippine capital, the purposes being to have a part-time job as a bookkeeper or an accounting clerk and to enhance my academic performance in the campus. I would say that these are for selfless needs, but my dad still couldn’t allow me to accomplish my endeavors, leaving an it-doesn’t-make-sense thinking inside my mind. I didn’t understand that scenario until my mom submitted to me of my dad’s saving a lot of money for my enrollment in one of the most expensive yet most prestigious colleges in the Philippines, which is known as Ateneo de Manila University. His decisions, which couldn’t give me a sense before, now gave me a clear idea of the reason for his choices: HE WANTS THE BEST FOR ME.

Similarly, we Christians also have a heavenly Father who also wants the best for all of us that His will is “to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). He, as our Dad, loves us so much that He cannot allow things, which are not according to His plan, to happen and to take fruition. For instance, one may fall into broken tears after not being accepted of working abroad, one moment where he/she couldn’t get the scenario, for he/she spent a lot of sleepless nights studying the country he/she would be assigned to. Sooner or later, he/she would gain a clear understanding of the situation, for the test, once passed, would merit the examiners a permanent stay in the country they would be transferred to, thereby leaving their families behind for the sake of working abroad. Nonetheless, by God’s grace, that person would be able to soar high through his company performance and his employee productivity and become one of the most successful and the most powerful businessmen/businesswomen in the Philippine archipelago, an extraordinary fruit being done according to the plan of his/her Father in heaven. In general, most of God’s decisions in our endeavors here on earth may not give us the clear reasons of such situations. Fortunately, Jesus said a promise in the Bible that “we do not realize now what He is doing, but later we will understand” (John 13:7). This “understanding” will only come if we allow God to move into our hearts and to become the drivers of our limousines in life, for He, as our Father, wants the best for us. He wouldn’t give us a stone if we ask for some bread nor a snake if we ask for some fish (Matthew 7:9,10), for our Father wants the best for all of us. He allowed His son to be crucified on the cross so that death and sin have no stings against us, for our Father wants the best life for all of us.

Indeed, fathers know best, including our Father in heaven. 🙂 ~ Zachary Bisenio

Acknowledgements: http://holyspiritinteractive.blogspot.com/2012/03/when-god-doesnt-make-sense.html