The bigleaf hydrangea is a unique flowering shrub. “If you take the seed of that shrub and plant it in the soil of Indiana, it will yield pink flowers when it blooms. But if you take that same seed and plant it in the soil of Brazil or Poland, it will produce blue flowers. Even more interesting, if you take the same seed and plant it in another type of soil, it will yield purple flowers.” (Source: Frank Viola, “Reimagining Church”) Botanists attribute that strange behavior to the different PH levels of the soils where the hydrangea is planted.
When I read that, I thought, “What a great picture of the New Year!” Every year is one of a kind. Life when it becomes too predictable becomes boring. We heard it so often that the saying became a well-worn cliché but still it is true: “The only thing constant in life is change.” (Someone quipped, “Also taxes and death.”) This year’s blue flower may be next year’s pink flower. For example, what worked for us this 2010 may not work in 2011. What is tried-and-tested now can become trite tomorrow. Yes, definitely there are some things in life that should not be changed. Someone wrote, “Principles are few. Procedures, many. Principles are constant, procedures change.” We are not to change our message but we could and should change our methods when it is called for. Of course, we will not embrace change for change’s sake. We change because God designed life that way. In fact, God balanced constancy and change perfectly: “The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, GNB)
So, we need wisdom to discern what needs to be constant and what needs to change. So, as we face the New Year, draw up a list. (You may use the discussion guide at the back.) Fold a paper into two. On the left side, write the word“Constant” at the top. On the right side, write the word “Change.” Ask yourself: “What are the things that should remain constant in my life?” and “What are those that should change?” For example, under “Constant” you may write, “Commitment to the family.”Write the values that are non-negotiable as far as you are concerned. What are the things that you must continue? Under “Change,” you may write, “Serve in the church. Join a Circle of Care.” What are the things that you must start or stop? Keep in mind that every moment of our lives is actually a fresh opportunity for change from God.
Brethren, think of the hydrangea as we celebrate the New Year!
That’s what my mother always told us when we were still kids. (Translation: “You spend everything today, you will have nothing tomorrow.”)
Dionie did just that. Last April 2008, he won PHP14,125,032 in the Lotto 6/42 draw. Excitedly, he “lived the life of a millionaire, something he had been longing to experience. He lived in a P4-million house in a posh subdivision, drove around in a sports utility vehicle [which he bought the very same day he claimed his prize], and gave goodwill money, ranging P1,000 to P 850,000, to relatives and friends. He also gambled daily, womanized, and went on regular drinking sprees.”(Source: Manila Bulletin) He estimated that he squandered a minimum of P100,000 almost every day. He also lent money even to people he did not really know. “I just gave them and told them not to pay me back.” (Ibid) His bank had to issue him a special card so he can withdraw huge amounts of money quickly from the automated teller machine. His wife and siblings kept on warning h…
What does it say about our culture when a religious title or a sacred activity become twisted to mean something racy? Esquire magazine exposed a disturbing social media trend here in the Philippines. “Pastor” is now a name used by several Facebook pages and closed groups that distribute pornography and engage in sexually explicit group chats. … The largest of these groups has 2.9 million members, while many others are in the tens of thousands. … In these “Bible Study” pages and groups, members post different forms of “ambag,” or contributions to the collective sexual appetite of the community. It could be anything from a slightly risque celebrity photo to mainstream hardcore porn.  In their thought-provoking “A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World,” John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle warned that what we have is no longer “a porn problem” but, much worse, “a porn epidemic.”  There are those who assume that porn is a harmless hobby. But, …
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
We saw already that in order to help our country we need to obey traffic rules, throw our trash properly and pay our taxes. This checklist may sound trivial to you. But if we can’t be trusted with small things, we can’t be trusted with big things.
In order to help, we must also speak positively about our country. The trend nowadays is to focus on the negative, to dwell on the bad things that are happening in our nation.
The Bible commands us to “think about… whatever is true… noble… right… pure… lovely… admirable… excellent or praiseworthy.”I am not saying we ignore or deny our plight. But we are to keep thinking about “the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (The Message)