Goodness on Fire

Cover of "Merriam Webster Dictionary"
Merriam Webster Dictionary’s definition of goodness fall short in comparison to the goodness of God.

What biblical goodness is
Goodness, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary refers to the quality or state of being good. The term good is then defined as a favourable character or tendency.

Receiving the compliment of being good is an honour and privilege – we may call many as exhibited some good acts, but labelling them as good people takes on a much higher level. Yes, being called good is such a rare opportunity.

National heroes may speak well of the term – but not all of them. It only shows that the term is heavy and calls for uniqueness.

In the Bible, the term goodness is said fifty (50) times in the King James Version (KJV), in which more than 90% refers to the goodness of God. Good is said seven hundred fifty (750) times, and the majority of it coming from the acts and nature of God. Very few of the biblical terms goodness and good refer to a particular biblical character. Clearly implied, goodness is a virtue in which God is exemplary, and none of His creation comes close to the degree of His innate goodness or good character.

A survey of the use of both goodness and good in the Bible defines the meaning by its qualities that are exhibited when practiced. One key area is forgiveness. When God shows goodness, it is often associated in His unwavering commitment to forgive His straying people (e.g. Isaiah 63:7). Another is God’s willingness to bless peoples materially. This is evident in the way God blessed Israel in the Old Testament times (1 Kings 8:66): God loves to bless His people not because of their own merit but because God desires to glorify His Name. It is also God’s way of showing that He desires a people who will speak of His goodness.

The list could go on but maybe the most important of all is how the goodness of God relates to His character of love. In the Holy Scriptures, the goodness of God in relation to His love (actually mercy (chesed), but the term mercy/lovingkindess implies love according to Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew) is mentioned sixteen (16) times in the KJV. When God chooses to do wonderful good acts, it is because He does it out of love. Or to put it differently, because God is love, He will never cease to do good things. Wow! O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)

The goodness of the Lord therefore is of a separate class. It is far beyond the idea of human kindness. The goodness of man has its own limits, and its nature is imperfect, but God’s goodness crosses boundaries and is perfect in its nature.

Everything is not about us

English: Pulpit at St Nicholas of Mira Church ...
Preaching is a sacred task that requires a sacred heart.

I stepped in and walked forward
Amidst the crowd and in front of the lights
All eyes were toward me
Seeing and beholding all my glory
And I gave my best, oh yeah
Knowing that they liked me

Cheers and whispers and smiles
They were all because of my glaring presence
I took a proud bow in my heart
Yes, this is me
I told in my heart
The most wonderful person of all
Adored and worshiped among all

Standing before the pulpit
Without any sign of nervousness
My manuscript was within my hand
Ready to deliver my grand stand
I believed I could do that well
No need to pray and depend on Someone else

I spoke with a confident voice
They all stood in awe
I knew I had it
I made myself even wiser
Flowering my words with eloquence

I walked away from the pulpit
Trying to sound wiser still
I spoke words without looking
At the papers
Impressing the crowd with
Thoughts that were locked in

In the middle of nowhere
A sudden thing occurred
I lost my words
And my mind stopped
To offer me thoughts

This could not be right
I would lost my dignity and prestige
Before all in shame

Alas! My tongue went twisted too
I could not utter a word properly
But I could recompose myself
And recuperate from this
I dictated my heart

Ahhh… Err…
My tongue would not obey me
My mind became stubborn
I felt my cheeks as hot as iron
And the people began to laugh

I took hurried downward steps
In humiliation I almost slipped
The manuscript that I was holding
Flew into the air
I never turned back to get it
All I wanted was to rush to the door

At home I cried and prayed
And in great rebuke
My Father Lord told
Everything is not about me
But everything should be done
Only for His Glory

 

The Good Thing About God

Grace-for-all
Grace conquers all our deficiencies.

Actually the title isn’t so good. Upon finishing reading this short reflection, the reader will come to see that there are countless reasons to prove that God is so good.

For one thing, who in the earth could say that he or she deserves God’s Grace? Of course there are many out there who would dare to claim so. These are the people who have missed altogether the true meaning of Grace. For them grace is earned, which is at once at odds with its real definition. Grace, Biblical grace is unmerited favor. Favor is for the obedient, but Grace is given even to the disobedient.

The forgiveness of God comes close to the list. God is so merciful and forgiving, that to forgive and forget a multitude of sin could be seen as part of His character. Yes I am emphasizing forgiveness here, and not His wrath to come at the day of Judgment when He recompenses every man for his or her evil deeds in hellfire.

The sweet sovereignty of God is another one. If not for His sovereignty, there could be no miracles or other stories that defy physical and natural limitations imposed by nature. Because of this many lives are saved – not in the natural means. And even problems, the insurmountable ones are overcomed. Thanks to His omnipotent power.

There are still a lot more, but let me tell now my story. For the past two weeks I have been down and could not move. I really feel unworthy. But God told me to act as a leader in an outreach – yes, He tells me to act – unworthy though that I am.

The Delight of Teaching God’s Word

English: ESV Study Bible Hardcover Cover
ESV Study Bible – the Study Bible I often use when studying the Bible.

Teaching the Word of God is truly a delight. It is one of the few things in life that truly brings pleasure to my soul.

Teaching requires that we study the teaching material first. In the endeavor to teach the Bible, in any form, in preaching, Bible Study, evangelism, or others, studying it first gluttons my heart to high spiritualities. It is one of the wonders any Bible teacher experiences from time to time. It is in fact listening to God.

A true teacher of the Scriptures will do his or her best to live out what he or she is preparing to teach. This, again, fulfills the deepest longings of the soul. Any true obedient disciple of Christ knows that trying to live in the perfect will of God is one sure thing to live a meaningful, fulfilled life. It is the highest achievement any human can achieve.

Then comes the blessed task of teaching it. If we have tried our best to study and live the Message, then the act of teaching is really in a sense a completed task. It has its own duties, but once we have tried to study and live the Word, then we can be assured that God will bless also our work of teaching to others what we have experienced ourselves.

The Heart Always Does Matter

In everyday experience I have proven again and again that the condition of the heart always dictate the overall status of the individual for the day.

A downgraded heart would mean a lifeless individual; a cheerful heart would reflect an invigorated soul. An enthusiastic heart would mean great accomplishments for the day; and a burdened heart would mean futility.

The greatest investment therefore an individual could do is to keep his or her heart at the best condition always. Yes, keep the physical body healthy, as well as the mind, but the heart would always have its effects on these as well. Not to mention that the heart also is a reflection of the emotional and spiritual status of a person.

Keeping the heart optimal is never easy, as I have learned. It suffers often in atrophy, just like the muscles when not exercised or when overlooked for some time. Worse, it weakens at a much more rapid rate than the muscles.

My advice? Prayer, and serious Bible meditation and application would always be the best ways to keep the heart in the best condition possible.

============================================================

Prayer Requests:

For my preaching this Sunday with Acts 17 as the Text. Accomplishments of projects. Guidance of the Lord for my talk with Madam Jane Salazar and Ptr. Sam right after this coming Sunday service. Thank you.

 

Turning Back the Hands of Time

This institution exists to train the heart.” Not putting aside the mind, but greater importance is given on the heart, or the development of character. That was the first important statement I heard from Mr. Sol Garner Dolojan, the Director of the Mindoro Bible College, now known as Center for Servant Leadership Philippines, the institution where I finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Pastoral Theology.
My prayer while studying Theology was for God to deal with me on a very personal level. I was really expecting to see my character pruned, developed, and transformed. I would like to see myself as a better person after finishing four years of Biblical studies. I was very hopeful and expectant. I believed that finishing the seminary would open a wide door for me – door for the full-time ministry and for better character.

Yet observing myself now and looking back several years before studying in the seminary, I see some disappointing things. Often keen analysis would bring me into a conclusion that I was better – maybe not in knowledge and some ‘divine skills’, but in character, courage, and humility. There was in me a dimension that made me real close to God – which I do not see in myself now. Alas! If I could only see the missing link to this greatness (or nobility), then I would have my life full again!

Surely it could not be knowledge – for I believe more knowledge in Scriptures would mean closeness to God, though not automatically, but still that is the standard of the Bible, except if I follow the example of the Pharisees who were full of knowledge yet was far from God. Nor could it be the skills – for abilities were graciously showered  by God with the sole purpose of investing for His Glory and building up His Church, unless I have been using these talents to serve my own vain kingdom. Or could it be that I have abused knowledge and skills to serve myself wholly?

Let this be an open question.

 

This Summer will be Better than Last Year’s

What will summer be like for me this time?
What will summer be like for me this time?

Last year’s summer was a frustrating one, and history will not repeat itself this time.

I was so eaten up by the internet, movies, and other non-living stuffs that last year of summer’s  opportunity and privilege to hear from God was robbed from me. It was a tragic mistake, and it choked my life for the next whole year thereafter. It led me to wrong decisions and missed chances of service. It also took away some nice relationships.

And it’s summer again in the Philippines. It is still hurting me to remember that frustration, and all the aches it caused me. This time should be different, and that is my resolve.

I remember at this moment a nice thought from Facedown, a worship book from Matt Redman. It says that if we would like to hear from God, then we must ‘free’ ourselves from this busy world. we should go up higher and higher to relieve ourselves from the gigantic noises of this world to hear the silent and soft whisper of God.

A big challenge for me. No movies, no TV, no texting, and as much as possible, no internet. Ouch! Yes, that would really touch the most sensitive parts of my life.

But I have to do that. REALLY. That is my only chance of hearing from God. It would buy me some valuable time to pray, fast, reflect, and meditate on His Word.

God help me.