2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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THE GIFT OF TIME: A Christmas Reflection

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68)

As I write this, my 1 year old Marco is on the floor, tugging playfully at my feet. Whenever I would glance down at him, he would flash his patented “please play with me Papang” smile at me. Amused but also a bit irritated, I do what most busy parents do: I multi-tasked.

And then it dawned on me — a striking thought that spells for me perfectly what Christmas is really all about.

It is often said that the spelling of love is T-I-M-E.

This can be said in the truest sense during Christmas. On one extraordinary night 2000 years ago, God made time for man. The King of the universe made time for his people. The creator of life made time for his creatures. The father of all mankind made time for his children.

On Christmas Eve, He did the impossible. He not only made time, he, in fact, entered time.

Once not bound by minutes is now wrapped in years. He who created day is now bound by it. He who affixed the sun and the moon is now subject to its cycle. He who never grew old will now age. He who needed no sleep will now have to close his eye lids and dream if only to restore his body to wake up to another day. He who had no beginning will now have an ending — on a hill…on a cross…in death.

And why? Because of you and me, my friend.

To tell us that God isn’t far. That he hears your cries. That he knows your pain. That he is with you every step of the way.

Beside the grieving mother in Tacloban. Holding the hand of the mourning widow in Bohol. Embracing the cancer patient in the nearby hospital. Comforting the wife and mother left by her husband. Uplifting the tired single mom who had to juggle three odd jobs just to make ends meet. Assuring the unemployed father of five that they will have food on the table the next day.

Christmas reminds us that God loved us enough to join us in our mess. It reminds us that God is not on a pedestal looking down on us but has come down precisely to lift us up. It reminds us that God, while He didn’t have to, made time for us.

Tonight, when you hear the cry of the baby from the manger, remember, not only that this isn’t an ordinary baby but that this isn’t an ordinary night as well. For it is nothing ordinary for the King of the cosmos to become a helpless baby born in a filthy stable.

Unless you know why he did it.

Because He knew perfectly that the spelling of love is T-I-M-E.

A blessed Christmas to you, my friends!

P.S. By the time I finished this piece, I already played “piggyback” and “catch the ball” with Marco. Indeed, making time is truly a gift of love.

FEAR FACTOR VS. FAITH FACTOR

It hounds you as you sleep. It taunts you as you wake up. It pesters you throughout the day. Whenever you begin to rejoice, it rears its ugly head and reminds you of why you ought to quit smiling and start pouting.

It comes in various forms.

The doctor’s diagnosis.
The notice from the bank.
The report from the police.
The message from the boss.

It does not barge in but it does not fade away either. It’s just there…waiting… laughing… heckling.

Its name is FEAR.

Its mission is to cripple you. Its goal is to snuff out the hope in you. Its objective is to ground you for good.

This was what the Israelites felt as they found themselves in between two bad options — a raging Egyptian army behind them and a turbulent Red Sea before them.

But as they cringed in fear, Moses stood in courage as he said:

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13)

So they stood there between two bad choices. Fearful but trusting. Anxious but hoping. Worried but believing.

And as Moses raised his staff, their hearts likewise rose with it as they saw walls of water stood on both sides of the dry ground. The sea parted before their very eyes and with one step it began their journey towards history. It began their journey towards perhaps the greatest miracle in the history of the chosen people next only to the coming of Christ.

You know what? What God did for them, He still does for us today. Yes, my friend, for you and me.

All we need to do is be still. Stand firm. Keep doing what’s right. Keep trusting. Keep believing.
Let God fight for you. Let Him part your “Red Seas” for you. Let Him deliver you to victory.

It’s fine to factor in your fear. But factor your faith in as well.

And when you do, stand still. You just might see your “Red Sea” parting right before you!

AMAZE HIM WITH YOUR FAITH!

There are only a few moments in the Bible when people amazed God with their faith.

There was the Samaritan woman who compared herself to a “dog” and was willing to “eat the crumbs from the master’s table”.

There were the friends of the paralytic who displayed relentless faith by boring a hole through the roof and lowering their friend on a mat in front of Jesus.

There was the one leper who, after he was cleansed, returned to Jesus with gratitude.

And then there was the Roman Centurion in today’s gospel to whom Jesus said:

“… ‘Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’…” (Matthew 8:10)

How about you? When was the last time you amazed God with your faith?

At the beginning of this season of Advent, I asked God what I can do in order to make this season more spiritually significant. I was surprised with His answer.

God said to my heart, “Child, why don’t you find ways to amaze me again with your faith.”

I cringed. I cowered. I flinched.

Indeed, it’s been awhile since I made God clap for me because of my faith.

I don’t take risks for the mission as much.
I don’t reach out to the poor as much.
I don’t try to break new grounds in the area of holiness as much as before.

But here’s good news for all of us: It’s not so difficult to amaze God with our faith. Pagdating sa atin, mababaw lang si Lord.

It’s easy to please Him today not because of what we can do but because of who we are — His children.

And when your child tries to impress you, you can’t help but be amazed!