Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Pardon

It is as shocking as the Glorietta blast. I had to read the news headline many times before it sank in. “Arroyo pardons Erap.” I leave it to legal experts to debate the pros and cons of the executive clemency extended to the former president, who was convicted of plunder. It still does not make sense to me, though.

I recall a similar situation in the Bible (Matthew 18:21-35). A king ordered an audit on all the governors ruling in the different provinces of his region. One was found guilty of plunder. He embezzled 10,000 talents. To give you an idea, a talent was equivalent to 75 pounds of silver. That’s astronomical considering that the total amount of taxes collected annually by Rome from the province of Galilee alone was only 300 talents. But this governor stole ten thousand talents! If we compute that, he owed the king millions or maybe even billions of pesos. Obviously, the governor squandered it all. “Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.” (v. 25)

The governor pleaded for mercy. (Yes, I know. Here is where the analogy breaks down. This governor did admit his crime, offered to pay up and, in a sense, signed his own request for pardon instead of his lawyer.) Shockingly, the king “took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” (v. 27) I believe people who heard the king’s pardon asked many times, “The king did what? Are you kidding me?” It did not make sense to them also. But, mercy does not really need to make sense. The only thing that mercy asks is that we receive mercy and extend it to others. Sort of a “pay it forward” deal. In fact, when the governor refused to be merciful to a fellow governor who owed him 100 denarii (a denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer or a foot soldier), the king got so angry that he ordered the merciless governor “tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” (v. 34)

Whether President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s decision was an act of mercy or not is debatable. But never ever doubt God’s act of mercy of sending His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.

Brethren, we already received God’s mercy. So, let us declare it to others.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Offensive Pugad Baboy Cartoon

"Pugad Baboy" is a famous cartoon strip here in the Philippines. One can read it in one of the major broadsheets here, The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI, http://inquirer.net/).

This morning, Oct 18, 2007, Thursday, I found this:

I immediately e-mailed PDI.

I am an avid fan of "Pugad Baboy." I have tolerated PM Jr. even if there are times that he used religion as a butt of his jokes (i.e. the "kulto finish" episode).

However, I find today's "religious nut" cartoon offensive (where Mang Dagul finds himself conversing with a person who asks him, "Paano ka nagpapasalamat sa biyaya na ibinigay sa yo ng Diyos?" [How do you thank God for the blessing He gave you?] Then Dagul cries out: "Religious nut!"). Yes, we all had our share of so-called religious nuts. But, just talking about God does not make one a nut case. This is stereotyping people who just wanted to talk about God. It is unfair. I don't find it funny.

Feel free to e-mail PDI <feedback@inquirer.com.ph> if you find the cartoon offensive also. God richly bless you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why Your Parents Act Like That (Part 1)

This is for our youth. But, of course, parents can eavesdrop :-)

Ever wondered why your parents act like that? That there are times you feel out of sync with them? Allow me to share the “Seven Ways to Understand Your Parents,” which I heard a few days ago in “Family Matters” (a radio program hosted by Rev. Clem Guillermo and Carmen Go-Vargas aired every Monday to Friday, 9:30AM, over 702 DZAS AM).

First, you have to understand that there is no school for parenting. A billboard got it right: “When a child is born, a parent is born.” Yes, there are excellent books and seminars in parenting. But, knowing how to parent is different from actually doing it.

Second, your parents were “victims,” too. Their parents also “experimented” on them. So, either your parents are parenting you the way they were parented (that’s the only way they know how) or they were trying to do it differently. I know it is not good to feel like a lab rat. But, at least, thank them for the effort. They tried. Yes, they are giving it their best shot. This brings me to the next point.

Third, they love you so much. But they just don’t know any better. If you think you know, try parenting yourself for a day. That doesn’t mean they are clueless. But a child is not a computer that predictably responds to certain keystrokes. There are times that, even if the parents apply the right “formula,” even if the parents know what they are doing, their children may not respond as expected. Parenting is something you do on the job. You learn it along the way. Parenting is an art, not an exact science. That makes parenting hard.

As leadership guru John Maxwell said, “It takes a team to make a dream work.” Be on your parent’s team. If you look at them closely, you will discover that they have been rooting for you all along. Teenagers usually whine that their parents don’t understand them. But have you tried understanding your parents also? It’s a mutual thing, you know.

My take? Please give your parents a break.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Resign

Yes, you read it right. I resign.

But, before you think of anything, I am not doing an Abalos.

Remember the Purpose Driven Covenant I asked people to read in the English Worship Service on my first Sunday as an associate pastor of Makati Gospel Church almost three years ago? Time and again it’s good to remind ourselves of that covenant. Here are some excerpts:

“I’m tired of waffling, and I’m finished with wavering… I refuse to waste any more time and energy on shallow living, petty thinking, trivial talking, thoughtless doing, useless regretting, hurtful resenting, or faithless worrying… I won’t be captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by praise, frustrated by problems, debilitated by temptation, or intimidated by the devil.”1

Those are the things I have resigned and will continue to resign from. Some people think that to resign is to give up without a fight. But a dictionary entry shows that the verb “resign” can also mean “to give up deliberately or to renounce. We have to be intentional. The fastest, easiest way to live a life of no consequence is to do nothing and wait for things to happen. However, when we decide to renounce that kind of unfruitful life, it will be a fight, an uphill climb. But, I tell you, it’s worth it.

The covenant goes on: “When times get tough, and I get tired, I won’t back up, back off, back down, back out, or backslide. I’ll just keep on moving forward by God’s grace… I cannot be bought, I will not be compromised, and I shall not quit until I finish the race.” Like Paul, I pray that some day we will declare, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7, NIV) But we have to renounce those things that would keep us from doing so.

Brethren, let us resign from “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)!

[1] From the website www.pastors.com. Copyright 2005 by Rick Warren. Used by permission. All rights reserved.