Being Human, Church, Humanity, Jesus Stories, Moral Lessons, Stories About Faith, Uncategorized

Believe for Others, Too

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Written by: Dean K. Thompson

A plane ride, a conversation, an insight.

Normally, I don’t talk to people much when I fly. Too uptight. But this time was different. I was sitting beside a scientist from the University of Peking. SHe was probably in her middle years of life. Throughout our lengthy conversation, she was somewhat shy, but she wanted to talk very much. She explained that her study was not the type of work that allowed her much time or opportunity for conversations with Americans.

We talked about Karl Marx, Ronald Reagan, dialectical materialism, Chinese communism, Chiang Kai-shek, Taiwan, Chou En-lai, Chairman Mao, the Cultural Revolution, democracy, totalitarianism, and higher education.

We talked for more than three hours. Sometime along the way, she asked, “What is your work?” “Presbyterian minister,” I answered, hesitating a bit. I’ve always hesitated, ever since my college classmates razzed me when I told them near the end of my senior year that I was going to seminary.

“Presbyterian minister. That means you are a Jesus person.” “Yes, I suppose I am a Jesus person,” I responded with some nervousness. Although she was an atheist, she seemed curiously pleased to be talking with a “Jesus person.”

“I knew many Jesus people when I was a child,” she said. “I sometimes attended their services at the mission schools, specially the Christmas play.”

“Is that a nice memory?” “Yes, the Christmas plays are a nice memory. They are a good memory for me, too. I went to them when I was a boy. Still do. I also know about the mission schools in your country. Do you know that Chou-En-lai and many of the older Chinese communist leaders were educated in the missionary schools of the Jesus people?”

“Most of the Jesus people I know are now very old,” she said. “They are nice, but I do not understand their beliefs.”

There was a long silence, and then she said, just as a scientist would say, “Tell me, please, tell me two basic things Jesus people believe.”

That kind of question puts preachers on the spot. We’re used to preaching long sermons about the many things Jesus people believe. Now a scientist/atheist from China was asking me to boil it all down.

“Well, the first thing we believe is the result of a question with which both scientists and Jesus people have struggled through the ages,” I said. “The question is: Why is there something instead of nothing? It seems to me that there are three possible answers.

“One answer is that the world is a funny coincidence or an absurd accident.”

“That is my answer,” she said.

“A second answer is, ‘I don’t know.’ That’s the agnostic’s answer,” I said.

“A third is ‘God.’ That is my answer. God made it all; and somehow, although I can’t see God, God is in control of it all. God puts purpose into human history and God puts meaning into your life and into mine.”

“And the second thing?” she asked.

“Well, the second thing Jesus people believe is that we are all in the same family. Despite all the tensions and wars, despite the radical differences between communism and democracy, we all are in the same family.”

Long silence. Then these words.

“Is that why you Jesus people call each other brother and sister?”

“Yes, sister,” I said.

I shall never see her again. And, although I would like to, that is OK; for that is how life appears to work. The family of humankind is a quickly passing parade, and we are allowed to see some of God’s family in only a twinkling of an eye.

Sometimes, as I travel in those planes over which I have no control, I find myself hoping about her, even praying. Hoping that she, too, will come to believe that God is the reason there is something instead of nothing, and that God is in control. Hoping that she, too, will come to believe that we are all in the same family.

Once, four strong believers carried their paralyzed comrade to a house where Jesus was. The crod was so thick that they had to lower him down through a hole in the roof. Then amazingly, Mark records these words about the incident: “When Jesus saw their faith,” He forgave the paralytic and healed him.

Their faith, not necessarily the paralyzed man’s faith; their faith prompted the forgiveness and the miracle of new life and new health.

I believe these words very much, specially since my plane ride. We who follow Jesus are supposed to believe for other people who can’t believe or won’t believe or are too broken down to believe. Believing for others is a hopeful part of what it means to follow Jesus. So, I will believe for that woman whose name I do not even know. I will believe for her as long as I live.

Why? Because somehow, through the unfathomable providence of the One who is in control, she is in the family. She is meant to be my sister.

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Church, Jesus Stories, Stories About Faith

What the Blind Man Did Not Say

When you want to ask Jesus for help, remember the faith of Bartimaeus and take the direct approach

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To meet Jesus was to know that something was afoot. To see Him pass was to sense, if you had the faith to sense it, that your chance-in-a-lifetime was passing by. The blind Bartimaeus was one who sized his chance (Mark 10:46-52)

Bartimaeus, of course, didn’t see Jesus pass. He only heard of His coming. In his darkness, he listened well to the reports about this rabbi from Nazareth. As Jesus’ arrival was announced – Bartimaeus could hear the bustle, the gathering crowd – his heart leapt within him. He cried out for an audience with the traveling preacher. Overcoming initial timidity and then opposition, he heard himself summoned.

What plausible responses could Bartimaeus have made?

And Jesus said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

And the blind man said to Him, “Begging your pardon, Sir; you will forgive my audacity. I have heard much about You. They say You do miracles. I have also heard – indeed have been taught – that the last time there was anything like a significant number of miracles around here was in the time of Elijah and Elisha. That was a long time ago. And people were credulous then. They believed almost anything. We’ve become wiser since then – and sadder. The official word is that there are no more prophets. Well, it’s been nice chatting with You. You sure do have a reputation.”

But Bartimaeus did not say that.

And Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him” “Nothing! If You are truly the Son of God, You would know what I want without asking me. I don’t feel I should have to get specific about my personal needs.” But Bartimaeus did not say that.

And Jesus said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Nothing, really. I thought for a moment that I wanted to ask You for my sight. But on a second thought, I feel that would be very selfish of me. I know enough about true religion to realize that I must stop thinking about myself and become more concerned about others. So, never mind. excuse the interruption.”

But Bartimaeus did not say that. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Oh, nothing. On reflection, I realize that You may not be able to – or may not want to- heal me. Frankly, I’m afraid to risk asking You, for fearing of being disappointed. I guess I’d rather not push it. Let’s just leave it be.”

But Bartimaeus did not say that. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Oh, nothing I guess. As I was stumbling up here – (thanks, anyway, for calling to me, that was thoughtful of You) – it occurred to me that I really don’t want to see. I’ve grown accustomed to the dark. I’m afraid the light of sight would frighten me. You see, I’ve learned to cope. Thanks anyway.”

But Bartimaeus did not say that. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Nothing, Lord. Forget it. What if You heal me and not others?” You should have seen – did You? – how angry they got back there when I merely started calling for You. If now I do receive my sight, think of how many more people and jealous blind people there will be. Why, they’d be angry with You, too. Some would be upset with You because You did heal me, others would be angry because You didn’t heal them. We’d better think of them. We’d better forget the whole thing.”

But Bartimaeus did not say that. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Master, I realize that faith is far more important than mere physical sight. So, I do not ask for my sight. I ask that my faith be increased.”

But Bartimaeus did not say that. The blind man said, “Master let me receive my sight.” 

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately, he received his sight and followed Him on the way.

Being Human, Collecting

The Urge to Collect

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We are all collectors, whether we know it or not

(Article taken from Catholic Digest, June 1986. Author unknown)

Why do people collect things? The handiest explanation is that it is a matter of instinct. Collecting evidently is not exclusive to human beings. Pack rats and magpies are notorious for stashing away every object that strikes their fancy. CHimpanzees and whisky jacks share the habit of assembling jumbles of trash.

That monumental spoilsport Sigmund Freud put down the urge to collect as a sublimation of sexual desire. This hardly seems to accord with the ways of pack rats and the rest, unless these creatures are a lot more complicated than we think.  Other psychologists have tied collecting to an unsatisfied lust for power. This begs the question of why some of the most powerful people in history have been among history’s greatest collectors as well.

But why quibble? Suffice to say that a great many different people collect a great many different things for a great many different reasons. It might even be said that we are all collectors whether we know it or not. For who among us does not collect something, be it rubber bands, paper bags, derelict wallets or handbags, desiccated ballpoint pens, single cuff links, or earrings?

What husband does not notice a tendency in his wife to collect certain foodstuffs such as cans of applesauce or pound upon pound of tea? What wife has not detected a similar tendency in her husband, dwelling on broken fishing tackle, ill-assorted nuts and bolts, and obsolete neckties? What is a home without keys for which there are no locks, unstrung tennis rackets and unsmoked pipes, old sweaters that will never again be worn?

Bits of string, buttons, expired driver’s licenses, old golf balls – he list of our litter is almost endless. It takes a superhuman effort of will to throw out everything in a household that should be thrown out, and most of us prove to be only too human when the moment of decision arrives. Sophisticated collectors would dismiss this as mere “accumulation,” as opposed to the active cataloging, and maintaining contact with fellow enthusiasts. Still, it takes no special powers of analysis to see that our reluctance to part with useless items goes beyond the delusion that they “might come in handy someday.” They may be rubbish, but they are our own rubbish – and they are all part of our human uniqueness. 

Collecting in any form is an assertion of identity. Clinging to personal junk is only a step away from the more orderly process of saving photographs and souvenirs to keep a sentimental record of our lives and times. The impulse to father souvenirs can be overpowering. Soldiers have been known to risk death or injury to pluck a memento from a battlefield; so, for that matter, have teenage fans scrambling for some pop idol’s autograph. Why? Probably because keepsakes are essential as keys to the memory. Photograph and souvenir collections are to the individual what museums and archives are to the society – a way of preserving history, in this case a history that is all one’s own.

Collecting reveals a great deal about a personality. Among any group of children collecting marbles, you might find three or four different general types. Some will gamble to add to their treasures, while others will take no chances. Some will recklessly squander their stakes; others will specialize in shrewd trades. Some will concentrate on quantity at the expense of quality. SOme, regrettably, will steal or cheat to add to what they have.

Childhood collections go some way toward proving that the child is father of the man. As a boy, Winston Churchill had an impressive collection of toy soldiers which he would maneuver in large formations; many years later he would be doing the same in real life, albeit at second hand. Churchill has been described as a romantic whose dreams came true. It is safe to say that there are many like him – racing drivers who once collected Dinky Toys, sports heroes who collected baseball and hockey cards with pictures and biographies of their own boyhood heroes, actresses who as girls clipped pin-ups out of movie magazines. The great majority of us, however, will never achieve our most romantic ambitions. For us, then, collecting may offer an outlet to indulge our fancies in a harmless and comfortable way.

Thus, for a few fleeting moments, the record collector may vicariously become an internationally renowned soloist performing in front of a glittering symphony orchestra. Distance and time mean nothing as the collector of model ships sails an imaginary vessel into the teeth of a raging storm as he rounds the Horn.

In this respect, collecting is food and drink for that larger-than-life image of ourselves that dwells in the alter ego. But it can also be richly nourishing to the ego as such. THere can be few owners of collections who do not delight in showing them off. Any collection, from sea shells to old masters, is a reflection of the owner’s taste, and taste is the pride of a personality. Whether good, bad, or indifferent in the eyes of others, taste is a way of proclaiming to the word: “This is nobody else but me.”

The need to display one’s taste as an expression of the ego partly explains the propensity of collectors to keep in touch with each other and to gather together on occasion. The recognition of one’s peers is a heady tonic to self-esteem. A convention of, say, chess set collectors may be a hotbed of rivalry and envy, but it is all in the family, among people whose particular knowledge and acumen make them an elite group of equals, Collecting is a great social leveler. An insignificant man in ordinary affairs may be the king of collectors of a certain class object, commanding the respect of all who dabble in it. One of the joys of collecting in an organized fashion is in associating with like-minded people. Life-long friendships can spring from a common interest in things like matchbooks or dolls.

Many the person who began collecting antiques has ended in being far more interested in the curious junk that crowds cheap antique shops. To the dedicated junk collector, a devastatingly unsightly old lamp may be more of a find than an authentic Chippendale piece. This is related to collecting for the sake of collecting, something that presents a hazard to the people who are now buying antiques and other works of art for economic reasons. It could well be that those who acquire collector’s items as a hedge against inflation will want to keep and expand their collections. Having been bitten by the collecting bug, they may find themselves spending more inflated money than before.

The most common danger in collecting is that one can become a slave to it. This phenomenon can best be observed in one of the most prevalent and yet least recognized forms of collecting, the collecting of other human beings. Social climbers and groupies do it all the time; and their individuality is often abandoned in their supplication to the figures they admire. “Great lovers” of both sexes collect other people to the exclusion of rounded standards of quality and taste.

On the other hand, a person who gathers genuine friends has a collection that is unique and priceless. For int his, as in all other forms of collecting, a couple of basic rules must apply to make it worthwhile.

First, never collect just for the show, but for intrinsic value. And second, never collect to impress others or to meet their standards. Collect according to our own standards- to satisfy only yourself. 

 

Uncategorized

Great Deals from Groupon Coupons

This is a sponsored post. All opinions in this blog post are mine.

Are you one of those people who loves having a good deal? Are you familiar with coupons? If you’re a thrifty mom like me, I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with coupons. Nowadays, I always try to look for a bargain before buying anything. I don’t want to waste a single buck because I know how hard it is to earn it. That’s why before buying online, I always turn to Groupon coupons first because they never fail to give me a great deal.

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Among my favorite coupons from Groupon are Babies R Us, Hotels.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Staples. I do recommend canvassing for coupons from stores where you often purchase so that you get the most out of your shopping expenses.  For example, since I’m a mom of a little girl, I usually purchase stuff from Babies R Us so I make sure I check out Groupon first and foremost to see if they have any good deal for me, and the experience has always been awesome.

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Another example is planning on vacations. When you’re planning on having a vacation sometime soon, it’s highly recommended you check out Groupon coupons for any coupons they may have for you especially from Hotels.com There are times when I’m surprised to see that they offer FREE nights!

So the next time you shop, remember to check Groupons Coupons first and foremost because it’s the smart way to shop.

For more information about Groupon, you may visit their social media pages in Facebook or Twitter.

Pyromusical, Restaurant, Uncategorized

2011 Pyromusical Olympics experience

I will not post a video or pictures of the fireworks for now because I’ll wait for my sister to give me her pictures of them. What I intend to do is share my experience during our stay while waiting/watching the Pyromusical competition last February 26, 2011.

Italiannis facade
Italiannis

I made reservations in Italianni’s at the 2nd floor hoping to get a better view of the fireworks. Italianni’s reservation fee costs P350 per head. Instead of getting a good view, this is what we get:

 

view from italiannis
view from our table in Italiannis

I know, right? What a lovely post that is. Fortunately, since there was no reservations on the table behind us, our waiter allowed us to move to that table instead. We still see the post, but we can see the fireworks better.

View at Italiannis' veranda
View at Italiannis' veranda

So if you want to reserve table in Italiannis, make sure to reserve the ones that are positioned along the veranda near the railing and NOT the tables near the glass wall of the restaurant.

Bridge
Bridge

Italiannis is also offering tables along the blue bridge/walkway, though, I’m not so sure if you’ll get a good view of the fireworks.

I would recommend reserving tables in Tanabe restaurant, UCC Cafe, and Patio Guernica for an excellent view. Their reservation is Php1,000 per head, but consumable. UCC and Patio Guernica offers set menu while Tanabe offers ala carte during the pyro olympics.

View from Tanabe
View from Tanabe. Php1,000 reservation fee (consumable)

This is the view from Tanabe Japanese restaurant. When I got here, all the tables have already been reserved with names written on them. This is definitely an excellent view.

my son
my son

This is a pic of my son enjoying his rented cart. Cart costs P160 (up to sawa). We were able to return it after the pyro olympics. The cart rental is located near SM Hypermarket and you’re required to leave a valid ID.  I definitely recommend this so that your children won’t tire easily while strolling inside MOA.

Below are just random pics I took:

Entrance to the pyromusical olympics
Entrance to the pyromusical olympics
San Mig by the bay
San Mig by the bay
Random drinks
Drinks we ordered at Italiannis

Below is the schedule for the remaining weeks of PyroMusical Olympics:

March 5, 2011 :

7PM – Japan (last year’s 3rd placer)

8PM –  Canada

March 12, 2011:

7PM – Australia (last year’s 2nd placer)

8PM – Philippines

Click here for the map.

Others

Bawal Ang Plastik Sa Lungsod ng Muntinlupa

Bawal ang Plastik
Bawal ang Plastik

Whenever we’re in Alabang Town Center or Festival Mall in Alabang, we see this sign everywhere and they’re serious about implementing this no-plastic policy. When I bought a few groceries in Shopwise (Festival Mall), the cashier asked me to either put my groceries inside a box or just add P10 to buy a big economical bag. I chose the latter. The irony is my brother whom I’m with at the mall has our Shopwise bags with him and I wasn’t able to get it from him when we got separated.

Anyways, all the stores are implementing this – toy stores, fast food chains, etc. I was amazed to see Jollibee take outs put in paper bags and they no longer use styrofoams.

I applaud the mayor for taking a big step for the sake of the environment. Hopefully, this will inspire other cities as well. Having no plastic could be a little troublesome like I had to carry lots of paper bags with me at home, but a simple solution to this is simply to bring your own big bag to put all those paper bags.

So always remember, whenever you go to Muntinlupa, BRING YOUR OWN BAG.