Friday, August 14, 2009

Daily Digest #340

[Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions, . . . and by His stripes we are healed. —Isaiah 53:5

I found a wonderful article written by Rick Warren, answering the question, "Why does God allow evil to happen?" Read below:

Rick Warren offers answers to readers' everyday concerns about revenge, resentment, and much more.


Why does God allow evil to happen?


In the seven years since 9/11, the reality of evil has intruded itself into our lives in ways we would not have guessed a decade ago. Yet evil has always been with us and it begs the question: Why does God allow evil to happen? If God is so great and so good, why does he allow human beings to hurt each other?

The answer lies in both our greatest blessing and our worst curse:
our capacity to make choices. Made in God's image, we have been given a free will—the freedom to decide how we will act and the ability to make moral choices. This gift of freedom is also the source of so much pain in our world. People often make self-centered and evil choices. Whenever that happens, people get hurt.

Sin is ultimately selfishness. I want to do what I want, not what God tells me to do. Unfortunately, sin always hurts others, not just ourselves.

God could have eliminated all evil from our world by simply removing our ability to choose it. But God doesn't want us to be puppets. He wants our love to be genuine. That can’t be if there is no other option.

The truth is,
we all choose between good and evil every day. You and I are not evil, but we do harm and hurt others with our selfish decisions and actions.

When bad things happen, you may hear some misguided minds say, "This must have been God's will." Nonsense! In a world of free choices, God's will is rarely done! Don't blame God—blame people who ignored what God has told us to do: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

In heaven, God's will is done perfectly. But this is earth, a fallen, imperfect place. We must choose to do God's will every day. This is why Jesus told us to pray, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."

The Bible explains the root of evil: "This is the crisis we're in: God's light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness ... because they were not really interested in pleasing God" (John 3:19 MSG). We're far more interested in pleasing ourselves.

In a crisis we cry out for a connection with our Creator. This is a deep-seated, universal urge. The first words uttered by millions on 9/11 were, "Oh God!"

How will you choose to handle the question of evil?
You were made for a relationship with God, but he waits for you to choose Him. Settling this issue in your heart can bring great personal peace in the days ahead—but it's your choice.

For this, let us pray. Lord, thank You for wanting to have a relationship with us, no matter how flawed we are. Thank You for the gift of choice, for allowing us to grow so that we may come back to You willingly and trustfully. Lord, please forgive us for moments when we choose our own will for our selfish desires. We ask for strength and wisdom so we may keep holding on to You through our ups and downs, until the time when we are finally as perfect as Your Son, Jesus Christ. We ask these in Jesus' name. Amen.

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Daily Digest #339

Love is the fulfillment of the law. —Romans 13:10

While we're on the subject of loving rules, let me add some more to that :D I just got this in my email (thanks!), I hope we all get to apply them in our lives:

The "Be" Attitudes

Be understanding to your perceived enemies.

Be loyal to your friends.

Be strong enough to face the world each day.

Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.

Be generous to those who need your help.

Be frugal with that you need yourself.

Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.

Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.

Be willing to share your joys.

Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.

Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.

Be first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.

Be last to criticize a colleague who fails.

Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.

Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.

Be loving to those who love you..

Be loving to those who do not love you; they may change.

Above all, just be yourself.

Let us pray. Lord, thank You for the wisdom and guidance You give us through Your Words. Thank You for the many ways You draw us closer to You. Lord, we cannot measure the love You have for us. May we learn to love others as you have loved us -- pure and unconditional. Thank You for teaching us to forgive. Thank You for guiding our choices when we could have chosen the unpleasant. May we express our love for You today and every day. We ask these through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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Daily Digest #338

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” —Matthew 14:27

I honestly wish that I could claim every single day that He is enough in my life. Sometimes, I find myself yearning for things that others have, and miss the gifts that are already mine. When left all alone, I begin to doubt the desires of my heart, if they are just mine, or really His, simply because they have not happened, or I have not gotten them, yet. But lately, I learned to accept how those moments come and go all the time, simply testing my patience and faith. There were times when I made bad choices because I didn't really believe that He was enough. The reading today reminds me yet again that He truly is enough, and that all I need to do is make the most of the time He has given me. Yesterday has passed, tomorrow is yet to come -- TODAY is the only thing that matters.

I have decided to get up and get out to enjoy the rest of this day. I have locked myself in this room for most of the day already, and I really think I should go out there and spend some time with others hehe. I get to experience God's love in the company of my family, friends and loved ones, and I still have them now so I don't want to waste any time sulking and being alone when I could be with them.

May we all experience God's love today. God bless you wherever you are.

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Daily Digest #337

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. —1 Peter 5:7

Allow me to share another article from the Purpose Driven Life online about changing our attitude and thoughts towards things and life in general (read below). May we reflect and assess our weaknesses and strengths, our initial responses to certain situations that test our character, and think of ways which we can improve ourselves, with prayer and God's help. May we be guided and reminded how small our misfortunes are compared to our blessings. Lord, we ask for Your strength today. Teach us to walk by faith. Amen.

Thriving on Chaos

“Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better (Ephesians 4:23 LB).

Things change unpredictably today. There is no pattern to many of the changes in our world. Forecasting and long-range planning are high-risk activities now. Today we cannot guarantee more of the same of anything. About the only prediction we can safely assume is that things will change!

In this “Age of Unreason,” to use Charles Handy’s term, we must learn to think upside-down, inside-out, and backwards in order to cope with this unpredictable environment. The business writer Tom Peters calls this ability: “Thriving on Chaos.” To succeed, you must do more than cope with change, you must capitalize on it! Every change is an opportunity in disguise. Since you can’t stop change, you must learn to take advantage of it. Here are three suggestions from the Bible.

1. Keep a positive attitude toward change. Although not all changes are good, we do have the freedom to choose our attitude. Change, even when it is negative, can be an ally if you take advantage of it and use it for good: “Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better” (Ephesians 4:23 LB).
2. Never stop learning. Never think you know it all. Stay humble and you’ll be surprised who you can learn from—friends, neighbors, kids, employees, clients, and business competitors, etc. “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them” (Proverbs 18:15 LB).

3. Stay flexible! Before glass bottles were invented, wine was kept in canteens made of animal skins. As they aged, they’d become brittle and crack from new wine that was still fermenting. Jesus once said, “You can’t put new wine in old wineskins” (Luke 5:37–39). Here was his point: When faced with change, we must adjust or we’ll explode!

Pray this: “Dear God, help me be more flexible this week.”

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Daily Digest #336

They will turn their ears away from the truth. —2 Timothy 4:4
Justify Full
I have several readings from the Purpose Driven Life online attached below regarding our legacy to our children, and our children's children. I hope you get to read them all. May we be enlightened and make necessary changes in our lives. Let us ask for God's guidance to help us choose what is right in His eyes, which is always good. May we be humble servants, constantly praying and glorifying His name.

Legacy to the Next Generation: Presence

“Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 TEV).

Every parent longs to leave a positive legacy in their children, but what does it take? Having dealt with thousands of families over the years, I’ve noticed four common gifts we need to give to the next generation: Our presence, our acceptance, our guidance and our correction.

The gift of your presence: Sometimes just being there is what matter most to your kids.

One day, my daughter came home crushed after not making the color guard in eighth grade. To make matters worse, all of her friends had made it. Sobbing, Amy went and sat on the floor of her walk-in closet.

But one by one, each member of our family entered her room and crawled into the closet just to sit on the floor with her in silence and cry with her. None of us tried to talk her out of her grief. We didn’t minimize her pain. We didn’t change the subject. We didn’t try to get her to look at the bright side of what had happened. We didn’t urge her to try harder next time. We just sat there and hurt with her.

Jesus said we should, “Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 TEV). That is the essence of empathy; it is the gift of presence.

In the Bible, when disaster and tragedy completely wiped out Job’s family, three of his friends came and just sat in silence with him for three days. As long as they kept their mouths shut, it was comforting to Job. But as soon as they started conjecturing the possible reasons for Job’s pain and offering advice, they got into trouble.

The Bible says, “Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 TEV).

Just as brick homes are built one brick at a time, the lives of our children are built with the bricks of presence, acceptance, guidance, and correction. Every time you give a child one of these gifts, you are building his or her life. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the gift of acceptance.

Legacy to the Next Generation: Acceptance

“Then he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest’” (Luke 9:48 NLT).

The gift of your acceptance: Everyone craves acceptance. It seems we never get enough. When you give your children the opportunity to be themselves and to become what God—not you—wants them to be, you give them a great legacy. The welcoming environment of acceptance is the atmosphere in which kids bloom. Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes a little child, welcomes me” (Luke 9:48 NLT).

Even though they’re your children, acceptance is never automatic. You must be intentional in offering it and continual in showing it. One of the most important times is when a child does something that embarrasses you publicly. At that moment, you have a choice: Will I care more about how others see me or about the feelings of my child? We’ve all seen embarrassed parents in stores use angry, derogatory words with kids who didn’t realize what they were doing.

An often-quoted research study noted that the single greatest factor determining whether a child succeeds in life or messes up is the presence and acceptance of a caring adult in his or her life. The amazing discovery was that it doesn’t have to be a parent! It just has to be someone who offers love, acceptance, and godly guidance.

Legacy to the Next Generation: Guidance

“Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life” (Proverbs 22:6 TEV).

The gift of your guidance: God could have made children completely self-sufficient when they left their mother’s womb, but he didn’t. They need us.

Children desperately need adults for guidance. They need direction and assistance from those of us who have already walked down the road. The Bible says, “Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life” (Proverbs 22:6 TEV).

If you hiked through the Swiss Alps, it would be far easier, less dangerous, and more fulfilling to have an experienced guide lead you. He would show you features that you would normally miss and he would warn you about difficult parts of your journey. That’s what every kid needs.

Children also need to learn from your mistakes and your past pain. They can learn from their own experiences, but they can also avoid a lot of unnecessary pain by learning from your experiences. It’s wiser and faster to learn from the experiences of others. God never wants you to waste your mistakes and hurts. He wants you to use them to help others. When you see others go down a path you personally know is a dead end, speak up! It’s the loving thing to do.

Even if you’re not a parent, kids need you in their lives, and you need them! Kids teach us to think of others and be less self-centered. You will teach them, but they will also teach you in many ways. For instance, you can teach them self-control and they can teach you spontaneity and creativity. Right now, are there any children in your life that you are helping?

Legacy to the Next Generation: Correction
“Discipline your children while they are young enough to learn. If you don’t, you are helping them destroy themselves” (Proverbs 19:18 TEV).

The gift of your correction: A fourth factor in leaving a great legacy includes offering correction when your children make mistakes. This responsibility of parenting often causes major disagreements in marriage, because no two people see everything alike. In any moment, one spouse will likely be a tougher disciplinarian than the other.

Sometimes it depends on the circumstances, sometimes it depends on which child it is, sometimes it depends which spouse has been offended most. But you must not allow your disagreement to become ambivalence or your children will rule the roost, and that makes them feel insecure.

Kay and I have often disagreed about this. When we do, we’ve learned to step aside privately, work out our disagreement, and decide which one of us is best prepared emotionally to handle the situation. Then we present a united front to the kids.

Whenever we’ve failed to follow this simple rule, it has hurt everyone.

The two most important corrective words you must teach your children early in life are “come” and “no.” Kids who never learn to respect and respond to authority will struggle their entire lives. Nobody gets their way all the time. If you don’t set clear limits for your children now, they’ll never understand the concept later in life, and they will have great difficulty in relationships— in their own families, with co-workers, and even with God.

Solomon wrote, “Discipline your children while they are young enough to learn. If you don’t, you are helping them destroy themselves” (Proverbs 19:18 TEV). Nothing destroys a legacy like a lack of discipline.

Will you have any influence on the next generation? When you die, your legacy should be far more than just what you did on Earth. Your legacy should include what others do after you’re gone.

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Daily Digest #335

If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. —John 12:26

Allow me to share another article sent to me earlier. In a way, I find it related to the verse above.

Embracing Imperfection

"When I was a little girl, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned toast in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his toast, smile at my mom, and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember Watching him smear butter and jelly on that toast and eat every bite! When I got Up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad For burning the toast. And I'll never forget what he said: 'Baby, I love burned toast.' Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if He really liked his toast burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, 'Debbie, your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides-a little burnt toast never hurt anyone!' You know, life is full of imperfect things.....and imperfect people. I'm not the best housekeeper or cook. What I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults - and choosing to celebrate each other's differences - is the one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship. And that's my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of GOD. Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where burnt toast isn't a deal-breaker! We could extend this to any relationship in fact - as understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!! "

May we choose to follow Jesus in everything that we do, everywhere we go. Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #334

The hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed. —Matthew 13:15

Yesterday, I had YouTube overload on Ninoy and Cory's (Aquino) speeches in the early and late 80s. I couldn't help but weep, not our of grief because of their deaths, but out of joy and pride because of the hope they both instilled in us, their countrymen, that there is such thing as democracy. I was gathering comments on politics and democracy last night and earlier today and got similar reactions: "Oh, I hate politics. Let's change the subject." Politics has gotten its name so filthy over time that we give up hope and respect. I couldn't agree more. I, myself, have been so critical and judgmental about politics in general, that all I could care about is my own family. But realizing Cory and Ninoy's views and principles again was an eye-opener for me. They chose to see the goodness in Filipinos, despite all the bad attitude. They saw what we refuse to see.

I was telling my friend earlier that I was not a fan of politics, but of democracy. Cory and Ninoy were instruments for us to realize that it exists, and is worth fighting and living for. What they did made me feel like a fair-weather friend, who is only there in good times. I always see the flaws, but rarely give credit to good deeds. I usually doubt people's intension, when there are really those who are kind and generous and compassionate. I also liked what their daughter said in one of her interviews/speeches . She was humble enough to honor her parents for their principles and service, and for stressing the importance of prayer -- praying for each other, and looking out for each other. I was also touched when she said her parents never gave up hope, that they could always see something good in each of us. Somehow, this made me think, maybe the reason why I don't trust politics is because I've given up on democracy. But no, i realized i still believe in it... maybe I've just grown impatient like the rest of us, but who knows? We might still witness genuine democracy in our lifetime.

I was hesitant to share my views because I didn't want to sound "political", especially now that I am not living in the Philippines. It would be insensitive or naive of me to comment so much when I do not experience the everyday-life in my home country. Somehow, I felt guilty for not doing my part. I have never participated in national elections. So yesterday, I went to the embassy and registered. My mom would be soooo proud, heheh!

It dawned on me that someday, I may be back in my country again to live... My parents are surviving no matter how much they complain heheh. And I believe it's really not so bad. I'm still hoping and praying for better leaders in the future.

The passage today teaches us about the joy of serving. That we can hope and endure because we love what we do, and that we're not doing it for ourselves but for God and others. I guess keeping the purpose of serving God and others keeps one's heart away from greed, malice and injustice. For this, let us pray. May we do our utmost to serve with all our hearts -- may it be at home, at work, in the community or in the church. May we believe that we are part of a family that is aiming for one goal: a life of love, peace and unity. May we learn from past mistakes, and believe that we are all given a chance to change and make a difference every day. May we not belittle our capacity and our existence -- we are here for God's purpose. May we also pray for each other -- our leaders and our fellowmen. May we see Jesus in each others' faces, and serve with a smile on our faces and joy in our hearts. We ask these in Jesus' name. Amen.

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Daily Digest #333

If My people . . . turn from their wicked ways, then I will . . . forgive their sin and heal their land. —2 Chronicles 7:14

I would like to share Rick Warren's latest post, entitled "Stretching Your Mind". Read below:

In the book Putting the One Minute Manager to Work, one of the key concepts is this: Don’t Just Do Something—Sit There!

Too often, many of our problems arise from acting before thinking. We confuse activity with productivity. We think, “I’m so busy, I must be accomplishing something!” In reality, we may just be spinning our wheels. Like sitting in a rocking chair, you can expend a lot of energy and create a lot of motion, but you still aren’t going anywhere.

Progress and productivity always require thought! The Bible says:

“A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t and even brags about it!” (Proverbs 13:16 LB).

“A good man thinks before he speaks” (Proverbs 15:28 LB).

“The wise man looks ahead. The fool attempts to fool himself and won’t face facts” (Proverbs 14:8 LB).

“A wise man is cautious and avoids danger; a fool plunges ahead with great confidence” (Proverbs 14:16 LB).

Unfortunately many parts of your work seem to conspire to keep you from thinking! Pressures, deadlines, appointments, and interruptions fill your day so you have no time to think. You stay so busy swatting mosquitoes that you have no time to drain the swamp.

Nothing is as important to your job as thinking, yet nothing is harder to take time to do. The solution is to schedule “think” time. Make a daily appointment with yourself to simply think about your work. Think about what you do, how you do it, and the results you are getting: “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts” (Proverbs 24:3 LB).

Your mind is like a muscle. It develops with use. The more you develop it, the more productive you will be. Your brain is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God. Think about it!

May we get to reflect on these wise words. Sometimes, we lose sight of our moral compass because we do not have the time to assess ourselves every day. The non-trivial becomes trivial, and before we realize it, our priorities have gone upside down.

For this, let us pray: Lord, thank You for guiding us everyday. Forgive us for the times when we choose to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye on You. We pray for each other, that we may all see as You see. May we love as you have loved. May our moral compass be rooted in God, who knows all things. We ask these, in Jesus Christ's name. Amen.

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Daily Digest #332

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. —Psalm 118:24

Have you had those moments when you found yourself smiling in spite of a difficult situation? (Well, except those times of near insanity hehe) I'm sure we've all been pressured and tested and mocked several times before. But it is when we choose to see the brighter side of things that we emerge as victors. Just like the reflection above, instead of complaining about her broken arm, she was grateful of what she still had. I, too, forget to open my eyes in times of hardship sometimes. I get too focused on the problem that all I see are the flaws. Just this morning, my boss threw a bunch of new tasks to me effective in October, which made my eyebrow raise a bit. I thought, "why can't we just train somebody new to do these tasks?", which actually meant "why me???" hehe. But I felt God's gentle "pinch", telling me to take another look and consider what I could actually do to help and become better at my job. And He reminded me that I have enough time to practice managing my schedule to get things done. Eventually, I'm sure everything will run as smooth as silk again. Upon realizing this, my whining stopped. It always helps to use the "glass half full" perspective.

For this, let us pray. May we have a grateful heart in spite of our circumstances. May we cease complaining and comparing ourselves to others. May we see difficult things as an opportunity to grow and become a better person. May we always count our blessings. May His will be done on us always. These we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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