When We Forget What We Had Been

Imagine this if you will: The man was not just plain angry; he was fuming mad. He had been wallowing in the pond of his displeasure for weeks on end. What caused it? A group of people—his own brethren at church— did not heed his advice or belittled his suggestions. That was all. That set him off to perform this vengeful act— an act that could show them how displeased he was! What was it? Withhold from this people the privilege of using the church songbooks. Let them find their own. They deserve no help from him.

You would not believe it if you just heard it, not until you saw it with your own eyes. You would not mind it if it was just the church janitor, or the brother of the church janitor.

You would not mind either if the man was just a little boy having tantrums. But you would mind if it was a fifty-year old administrator, holder of education and Bible degrees, and president of a Bible college, a teacher of the Bible. You would mind if he wanted to punish his own brethren by not letting them use the church songbooks. You would even mind even if he was not their minister, or your minister.

What made the man change? Back in the old days, he had instituted a program to help church couples undergoing marital troubles. Now he was not too helpful.

How some good men degenerated into a wacko is beyond one’s comprehension. Or why some people carry a Bible in their hands and chips on their shoulders is also beyond comprehension.

It goes without saying that the imbibing of the Word will work toward the reviving of the soul. As we go about effecting change in people’s lives, we carry in our hands the book that could effect that change. A Book inspired by God’s Spirit, it could set man further on the road to spiritual completion (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is the Book that invites every man to abandon petty lives on earth. It is the Book that makes him fit for the life beyond.

Some say it was pride that had gone into the man’s head. The man was used to having his way in church. And that was a problem.

Has that man not been a beneficiary of the goodness of God and of men in the past? Supported by a brotherhood of good men. Owned four cars. Lived in an exclusive subdivision. But he had forgotten all these. And it is when we start forgetting—forgetting how bad we had been and how good God was in adopting us through Jesus—that we also start wallowing in the mud of pettiness.

Contrast that man with this one:

A “Dear Abby” column of December 2 mentions about a certain Marilyn Irlbacher of Nashua, New Hampshire, telling the advice columnist of an event that took place when she was a little girl. In her own words, she was then “living in a less-than-caring foster home” and “worried about the 50 cents” that she owed her school library for several lost books. If she could not pay that debt, she could not get her report card. Having been told that, tears fell from her eyes. And having no money, and terrified about asking from her foster parents, she fled both school and home. Running down the street, she bumped into a tall stranger.

The stranger asked her why she was crying, and she told him. The man reached into his purse, took out two quarters, and said, “Things will be all right now.” The act was kind and the voice seemed even kinder.

Overjoyed because of the help of a stranger, Marilyn paid for the lost books, and got her report card. Shortly after that, she left the foster home—her mother took her back to live with her. This incident happened in 1942, when the world was at war. It was also a time of depression. In those days, 50 cents was a lot of money.

Marilyn told the advice columnist that “to this day, every act of generosity I perform, every dime I give to a cause, is in honor of that man. I don’t remember his face. I only recall his brown shoes, which I saw first when I ran into him. His kindness to a crying child made all the difference in my life.”

The above story about Marilyn was lifted from Dr. Rubel Shelly’s blog. Thanks, brother Shelly. To visit Dr. Shelly’s blog, click here.

We could also forget what we had been. Perhaps we need some bumping too into some stranger, or into something strange, in order for us to be reawakened, or for us to remember. Like that man I know from childhood memory, who once bumped into a strange woman, and got infected by that strange woman’s disease. Sick and dying of STD, he remembered how faithless he had been to his marriage vows, to a wife who remained faithful in spite of his faithlessness.

If you were New York governor Spitzer, you expect to be “spitzered.” This too we must remember.

This article is to encourage each one of us to remember the kindnesses we have received, that we may not forget to be kind. Remember that we have been forgiven, that we may not forget to forgive. Remember that we are meant for heaven, that we may not wallow in the mud of our earthly pettiness. Remember God’s loving kindness that we may show loving kindness to others also.

Remember what we had been.


The Advertising Game that People Play

Yesterday, today and tomorrow are just like other days the Lord has made. As usual we, like other creatures of God, are into a game of advertising. That game is played by us and by them like any ordinary game, although its intent and purpose are beyond the ordinary. It is a game we and they don’t always play too well. We are the billboards, we are the ads and the ad carriers, God is the one advertised, but as in many cases the one advertised is being overshadowed by the billboards, or upstaged by ad carriers.

Why is that so, one may ask. Well, some participants in this advertising game are in a sense mediocrity a outrance. The impact they create on those who are watching, to say the least, leaves much to be desired. They don’t measure up. The ones among them who have played it so bad are remembered only for the embarrassments they have created. Their failings are their biography.

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Some Answers To Your Question on Suffering

Let’s say someone considers himself not a run-of-the-mill Christian. He’s been trying to be good, and he’s been trying to do good. If Christianity means filling up the forms and leaving no boxes unticked, he’s done a superb job in this area.

Then, you ask, in spite of all these, why do good people like him still suffer?

Good people. There is a sense in which we may misunderstand the term “good.” The Bible says no one’s good but God (Matthew 19:17). If a man is said to be “good,” he is such only according to the world’s standards. But back to the question: Why do you, or I, suffer?

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God Be Blessed

I am indoors this morning pounding at the slowness of my PC’s keyboard while the world around me is wrapped in the gust of coolness brought by the rains that began at two and whose end is nowhere in sight. I hate to open my door, for beyond that I know lies the inescapable responsibility to clean up the languishing mess of shopworn leaves, rotten and wet, thrown at my yard by the winds of last night. I am supposed to finish this piece whose deadline has been set by me. At the craft I have chosen, I am my own boss. And even though it has been my wish and desire to fulfill my boss’ wish and desire, I still have failed to relate to my own time frame. Maybe a turtle could beat me at the speed at which I am writing.

I have talked about slowness, and while I have faulted my machine, I have also been blessed by its inability to talk back. What else? My mind has been engaged to a topic that seems to be wanting of inspiration. For example, one who is so familiar with broccoli culture loses sync with the muse if he attempts at writing about deer hunting. There simply are no deer to hunt around the area, the muse does not cooperate. And while one spends much of his time musing, it’s the old muse he is actually missing.

Maybe I have picked up a poor day, if not a poor place to start crafting my piece. This particular day of March, for instance, seems to be a harvest bag bulging with too many distractions, too many to ignore. I am distracted by the sky—this rainy morning it has worn a shade of gray ash. Missing are the high dirty-whitish cirrus streaks hung like streamers across the canvas of blue, and so we too miss the usual drama of nature that comes in a weather fair and shining — the shrill neighing of the racehorse, the gentle chirping of the winged, the soft hiss of the small stream not far from us. You may expect an endless downpour the whole day. He is the sender of both blessings of sunshine and rain.

Oh, yes, and that neighborhood pigsty. A private business to uplift the lives of the poor whose number keeps thriving in the place we have chosen to spend our private lives in. The smell is no longer a matter of privacy, and we keep complaining. But here you can bellyache to the high heavens and nobody listens. However it too is a blessing: My nose has now learned to adjust to the culture of the smelling pigsty. My patience has now an additional point to its sleeve.

The other distraction is in my soul. The matter of doings of our two offspring living their separate lives from us sets my mind into thinking about the inevitable prospect that God has designed for fathers and mothers–“Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they both shall be one flesh.” The fatherhood of my youth is gone, but in its place comes the grandfatherhood to a boy six years old. No, two boys, the younger of which is two. Ms. Joan Orendain—God bless her—is right in saying that Charles Jacob, my first grandchild, shall bless my olden days with golden joys. Thank God for inventing grandsons.

And so on these days when we have been bombarded with a blizzard of bad news of shootings and killings, of parricides and infanticides, of wife abuse and child abuse, of kidnappings and carnappings, of corruption and graft in high places and low, of world economies that float and sink, dictated by the whims and caprices of those harem-loving sheiks, let us not cease to bless Him. The blood of human hurts still oils the wheels of human lives, the vehicles of human activity still run the trip from misfortune to fortune and vice versa, and the great indomitable human spirit still looks up high for a better gaze at the future. Some of the world’s creatures have suffocated under the sheer largesse of the world’s wealth—Warren Buffett is number one and Bill Gates is number three. But we who are spectators in this game too are survivors. If anything, we are to be thankful that our lives are not so calamitous. We still eat the fruits of our labors, for God also blesses those who sit and wait. Buffett and Gates may have been blessed with the world’s wealth, but theirs is one that passes after this age, while ours is one that passes beyond this age. God be blessed for that.

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