Faces Waving

Let us, our children and our children’s children continue their legacy

By July 4, 2026, the USA would be 250 yrs old. It has the most recognizable flag in the world, its sacred treasure. Sad to say, it is the only national flag i have seen to be shredded and burned by its own. To say that it is just a piece of cloth so it can be burned and trashed is dishonest, childish, and disrespectful. It deserves to be protected from vandalism; to be spared from being used as a punching bag, a personal weapon or megaphone. As symbol of freedom , it is to be displayed to represent such ideals and hope, so that when you look at it, you could almost see the faces of those who fought for it waving to you. What a beautiful reminder and a simple way to unify us despite our differences! So it is not ours to replace, to do as we please with it. Crafted by those who fought for it, it belongs to all who continue that fight even today.

Unfit……………

The Lord’s Supper is both a historical and symbolic gesture of Christ. Pinhead by micro-sculptor Willard Wigan 2007

Feeling like an outcast, invisible, useless even in your own home?

No matter what the reason, it hurts. It makes this woman who came to Jesus when she was in the pit of pain beg and said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

And it was so, but in God’s table, there’s abundance of real food for deep healing, even crumbs turn into gold.

Quick bite: Come to the table that serves real food.

Note: The conversation above is found in Matthew 15:21-28. The Canaanite woman may not know she had the faith. Our faith shows what we depend on especially in dire time. Don’ waste it on what’s undependable.

Fixing Happiness?

Do you have a constant gnawing need to find validation through altering your look? Do you go to great lengths to alter the parts you do not like to ward off any insecurity or dis-ease? Do you emphasize the parts you want people to notice, or thought they should while unknowingly sacrificing your real assets? Do you constantly notice in others what you think you lack, then make comparison? Do you quickly become depressed because you cannot get the attention or acceptance you seek? Does a single negative comment change your mood and bring you down easily, disrupting your work and relationships? Do you often cry even for no apparent reason? Have you been binge-eating or self-cutting, drugging yourself, contemplating ending your life, and still nothing you do can erase your sadness? Happiness seems so elusive.

If you answer yes to any of the above, you could be obsessing. That which we love we serve. But obsession is marked by rushing, restlessness, repetitive intrusive thoughts and irrational, risky behavior. The locus of control may no longer be within you. The solution is to regain proper control of ourselves. But how?

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Small step: When facing hardships and great loneliness, the soul is in distress? Take a moment to listen while reading Psalm.23, 40 or 139.

A day I am true to myself

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The Justice We Seek

It’s an extraordinary time when we can no longer distinguish adults from children, government from parents, men from women. This confusion spills into the culture too: is it art or witchcraft, dance or porn, free speech or hate speech, news or opinion. Instead of outcry, instead of demanding hard evidence, allowing freedom to discuss, agree or dissent, there is approval of violence, suppression of conscience, tampering with the law, and the threatening of lives. It’s being done for justice. In short, as long as it is for justice, for the greater good, then any means is justified. As a result, we need to examine both the means and the end!

How did our pursuit of justice become like this? Could it be because we have also changed our approach, understanding and attitude towards the law? The law is no longer anchored on the truth but context and outcome become the basis. This is a clear departure from the Judeo-Christian foundation of the law. If the moral compass is broken, if it is justice without God in it, then what is it and who is in it? A select few?

From the dawn of civilization, laws have been drawn to preserve order and protect individual lives. These laws may need occasional revisions to strengthen them. But all laws talk about rights and seek accountability for justice. Justice seeks whether I have my rights and others’ too. It pursues whether I have given my due too. Justice demands accountability where I am not judged for what I have not received, but for what I do with what I have, no matter how small it is.

Unique to Christian law is almost all countries that adopt it prosper. “Have I done my responsibility of loving my neighbor as myself?” is the core of the second half of the Ten Commandments. A humane society is a just society. It is built on looking out for one another. In case you haven’t noticed, the commandments address the individual’s duties. And thus God’s justice starts with the individual. not the group. It assumes that each person is responsible for knowing the law, self-examining, and prioritizing the other over oneself. It is humane to aspire to contribute to the whole, using whatever one has. Stealing, murder, slander, disobedience to parents, lying, and covetousness all betray this and the perpetrator is held accountable, if not immediately, later.

Someone once described a scene in hell in contrast to heaven. In hell, each one keeps others at arm’s length with long forks, making it hard to feed even oneself. It’s hellish. In heaven, everyone feeds one another. The short or long fork does not matter.

A good lawgiver will also give just punishment to stem lawlessness. Participation, association, and consent are clearly stipulated so degrees of guilt and punishment are measured accordingly. What happens when solutions are subjective, inappropriate, or inadequate? It is like using a straw boat when compared to the heavy-duty ark built by God awarded to those who believe in God’s justice. It is unjust to design policies that endanger the law-abiding citizens but reward the vile, the fool and the ungodly.

The justice we seek is the justice we’ll get, if not immediately, then later. I know that justice delayed is justice denied. But that a fair judge would be patient, not rushed. The flood did not happen until after a century of warning was issued through Noah. God’s seeming delayed judgment was not due to softness or neglect but to give each person ample time to repent. Don’t we all want mercy? Probably what we want is mercy, not justice. And God is capable of giving both.

Quick check: Is there an aspect of God’s justice you would like to have more of in our society?

Fr. Goodbye to See you later!

What to think of death? Medically, death is the termination of all functions of life up to the cellular level. However, its salient impact and relevance would be the cultural ones. “Death” is found in all languages. In particular, is “Wang” which means death in Chinese. It connotes destruction, departure or elimination. Surely, this cutthroat designation conveys a gut-wrenching event. “Extinction” best captures its finality and horror as archeologists refer to the dinosaurs’ demise. Maybe that is why death is often used as a weapon against one’s enemy, or as a way to deal with emptiness, to self-punish for guilt or a dare to pain in defiance through suicide.

How have we so misunderstood and misused death! We use it to solve our problems when it is the problem we need to solve. Many have tried. There’s the quest for a fountain of youth, others try philosophy. It is explained as a release from this evil world achieved thru endless cycles. But this is like going under the knife multiple times till one pays it all and gets it right. Isn’t that endless pain, not endless life?

Some soften it by regarding it as “passing from this world.” But if it is mere passing, do we reappear somewhere? If it is cessation of cellular functions, I better eat healthy. If it is extinction, I’ll worry less about doing the right thing and just enjoy myself. If in death there is no longer any consciousness, then I’ll use it to end my troubles. But if there is a continuation, then where is it and how much time do I have to prepare? “Becoming one of the stars” lifts the heart in bereavement. Holding someone’s memory forever in one’s heart warms the cold reality. But what kind of existence is that? These euphemisms attempt to make sense of life, to help us overcome the pain. These do not assuredly tell us what lies ahead, but somehow they provide a relief from the grief of losing a loved one, and the agony of the unknown, of not seeing them again.

The end is the end. What more is there to talk about? Right? But I beg to differ. Death is part of one’s life, though it comes at the end. Not giving it importance is like watching a movie that is suddenly cut, it’s meaningless. The fact is though the future is unknown, death is not. A good ending comes from knowing it’s coming and developing it. Write it into your life, but how?

O death, where is thy sting. Death is the last enemy. By His stripes we are healed.

Jesus predicted, planned, preached and prepared for His death and resurrection. He changed everything about death and how we too can prepare to enter the land of the living, not the dead.

Instead of theorizing or romanticizing death, be down to earth, grounded in evidence. This is where the Easter story is pivotal to our understanding of death. To date, the resurrection of Christ is one of the best attested historical evens by scholars, both Christian and non-Christian. What awaits after death is no longer a mystery, but a tangible hope echoed in “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies.” Thus, the resurrection has changed billions of lives from one of despair to hope, from meaningless to purposeful, from goodbye to see you later. Easter is when death becomes a continuation of our existence, not the end. Like a door one enters another room. the story does not end with death. Jesus uniquely used the metaphor of sleep. Lazarus was dead for four days, but Jesus said He would wake him up from sleep. Lazarus came back to life. Finality becomes temporary. Death becomes temporary to all who believe.

In an age where certainty is frowned upon, absolute truth is replaced by relativity, and faith is regarded as unscientific, there is still no answer, and therefore no end to pain. Death is a fact, it hurts, it disrupts, and facts do not care about feelings, status, gender or age. But then there’s the fact of the resurrection. Then what?

Quick check:  Who does not think of death? A Christian Uber driver surprised me by saying death is a time of awarding. November 2, 2023, is All Souls' Day. What are your thoughts after reading this? How does your idea of death 
hold up? What makes you certain of it?

Small step: Rest in peace" is comforting only if you
have found peace already.
Have you made the peace? Eternal peace?

* Reference: Gary Habermas, Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?; Anthony Flew, “There is A God”; and https://www.bethinking.org/jesus/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-Christian Sources.

MOM is WOW, ……. but

. . . today, the image on the left may invite more raised brows than wows. Not saying that’s a concern for mothers to worry about, for why let others rather than your own needs determine your task? In reality, the needs of her children, marriage and family stare her in the eyes daily. Unless these things change, mothering is not going to be much different than the all- around caring it has been. Start with the basic needs, have they changed?

It’s like the difference between garment factories and dressmaking. The former employees handle specific tasks in the multi-step process so most workers never get to put a whole garment together. There once was a factory worker who went to Europe and saw a doll on sale. She then realized all the strings she used to neatly pack were part of an electric doll sold in that boutique. Can you imagine how she felt?

What we have done to mothering, parceling the tasks, as if that is the way to free mothers from mundane tasks to be fulfilled in life, is a sad attempt at improving something without thinking of its nature and consequences, thus emptying it of its true meaning and role. Is playing sports bad because you have to sweat? Mothering sure needs good helping hands. But are we making a doll or growing a child? Whereas the family was once at the center of society, which elevated the importance of parenting and homemaking, where once we held sacred the sacrifices of parents, and sang their praises, we now have a society that sees babies, children, husbands, marriage and mothering as selfishness, backward, an injustice towards women, a hindrance to happiness, even a source of environmental crisis. Bashing motherhood serves no good purpose but to please the prejudiced, the ignorant, ignoble and ingrate. There are studies about styles of parenting on ways to avoid mistakes done in the past. It’s a better use of our time to be properly informed, support our mothers and enhance parenting for the next generation.

Making it bearable

Quick check: Have you met anyone who thinks negatively of motherhood? How would you respond?

Last thought: Though “homemaking” is no longer the only option for women, it does not follow that motherhood is no longer significant. Just because there’s wine and milk, water is no longer needed? Like motherhood, water is still significant, special, and superior in many ways.

The Christmas before New Year

It’s Christmas once again. “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear,” John Lenon wrote. Is Christmas disappointing to you? To me, it is more like an anomaly, a burst of sunshine on a bleak horizon, a sound of hope, sweet and almost divine in a world moaning and groaning.

Compared to other seasonal celebrations, it is still what brings the most revenue for most businesses to cover for their losses in the low seasons. So far, it is the only time when soldiers in the field have willingly stopped the shelling and killing, even for just a day. It’s the time when more people smile in the street. Could it be the infectious joy of the carolers, the inspiring story of the manger, or the cheerful decorations? People give more generously too. Perhaps Christmas is a good reminder of giving love, more than seeking love? This graciousness extends to forgiveness of those who hurt us, because it is the time when giving is the rule and not the exception, the expectation not the suspicion, so that even the ones who feel loneliest at this time of the year would accept than reject kindness. Trust is on all time high. It is a time when anticipations for what’s wrapped under the tree reflect more innocence and trust than greed. And if the gift does not quite deliver, there is always a church somewhere where you can get a warm greeting.

More importantly, it is the Baby Gift that keeps on giving. If you have had the chance to travel abroad at Christmastime, you would have noticed that Christmas has been transformed into a unique universal experience and language carried over oceans and mountains through its enduring traditions made up of the gospel, storytelling, food, arts, gifts, games, reunions, sights and sounds. Thus, at least, once a year, the world expresses her hope of a true and better future. That is the Christmas spirit in a nutshell. It aptly prepares the heart with spiritual gifts of faith, love and hope to enter the New Year. And that’s what I wish for every reader of this blog. Merry Christmas everyone.

Soul Rest

A gentle reminder: we do not carry the world on our shoulder

Restlessness leads to unrest.

Anger, anxiety, antipathy, avarice, acrimony, aggression, arrogance and antagonism could be flooding our society now. Do you know someone like that, or have you become an A-lister– someone so passionate about change, of changing others or the world, but then lost perspective, principle and personality? Some could be so afflicted that they become alarmist, antisocial agitators who cannot adjust? To think, most would agree that to live for a cause is good, caring is better. But when caring takes an ugly turn, then we may explode or implode.

There is a difference. Striving is part of healthy living, but not stressing or distressing. Even good people can still drown in compassionate care. No amount of coffee can lift a wilted, tired human spirit. Stress is now considered the cause of majority of our illnesses and social ills. Yet we are still more mindful of how we work, not how we rest, We make sure our work is well done, which is impossible when we are tattered and warped. We tend to jam more work into our free time, including our rest time. We are missing by a long shot, for our hurried rest has not even reached the inner soul.

Most people don’t realize, God is serious about rest. He is no taskmaster. Slavery is created by humans. It’s possible you are already enslaving yourself. In fact, the first decree God ever instituted was to maintain the health of the world by declaring the seventh day a day of rest. This rest is not just for man, but for their land, servants and animals too. Can you imagine the impact of this to human well being and our ecosystem if followed through?The Hebrew word for rest is Shabath, which means to stop working, with the goal of getting refreshed, like a battery getting recharged.

One who has accepted Jesus has ceased to labor to be accepted by the world.

One crucial factor affecting our rest is our spiritual condition. Interestingly, survey shows that compared to those who skipped, people who regularly worship on Sundays to fill their soul with Him during the pandemic scored higher in happiness and are more mentally fit.

“Come unto me all who are weary and burdened, and you will find rest for you soul, … for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” You will notice that it does not mean emptying your mind, chanting, or just sleeping away. Essential rest is about timely nurturing the soul. It is a spiritual experience. His presence and His Word does that. Unique and doable,

“For everything there is an appointed time, and an appointed time for everything on earth.” Ecc 3:1

When the sun seems to stop smiling at us, we know we are spent.

At times we find it difficult to rest even if we want to. But note that to rest is a command, implying we will be enabled to do it if we choose it and do it His way. Life can be unpredictable, unfair, unforgiving. But it will just get worse if we know not how to rest. It actually happened a long ago when Noah invited the people to enter the ark. No matter how bad it looks, it is not yet the end of the world because His invitation to enter His rest still remains.

Short meditation for spiritual rest, choose from: Psalm 16, Jeremiah 29:11-13, I John 5:11, John 13:15; 6:47, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Mathew 6:19-34.