An Open Letter to Dan Haseltine, Lead Singer of Jars of Clay, Concerning His Recent Comments Regarding the Nature of Scripture and “Homosexual Marriage”

As a Jars of Clay fan, this truly saddens me.😥

Biblical Apologetics

Dear Mr. Haseltine,

First of all, I hope you will not mind if I refer to you in this letter as “Dan.” You may, of course, call me “Chris,” or virtually whatever else you would like to call me, for that matter.

Second, I need to let you know why I am writing this letter to you. Here’s why: on April 22 you wrote on your Twitter account, “Maybe the ‘knowledge of good and evil’ is a bad apple. Since it is a main cause for our hatred and toxicity towards others.”

Unless I am missing some context, or earlier discussion, you were, in your tweet, questioning our knowledge of good and evil upon the basis that our opinions about good and evil are a main cause of hatred toward others and what you call “toxicity.” I hope I have understood you correctly. I hope you will notice something…

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2014, Here I come

I am thankful for God’s grace and faithfulness in the past year. Now, as we are 5 hours away from 2014, I’m looking forward to whatever it is He has for me. I pray for His guidance and strength to face the new year.

 

O Lord,

Length of days does not profit me
Except the days are passed in thy presence,
In thy service, to thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour
that I may not be a moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise;
testify thy love
Advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son, as my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy call,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to teach,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.

May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.

Amen.

 

~ Prayer for the New Year, The Valley of Vision

Another Reason to Rejoice

With the recent catastrophes (earthquake & typhoon) our country has experienced, we Filipinos, especially those in the Visayas, need an inspiration. And what inspiration could be sweetest to us than the victory of Manny Pacquiao.

On Sunday morning, once again the world stopped turning. Everything was on a standstill. Everyone’s eyes were glued on the screen, feeling every moment of the fight, and praying that our fighting congressman would win. And win he did.

To me, it is not only Pacquiao’s victory that is inspiring, but his life as well. A known womanizer & gambler prior to his conversion, Pacquiao now shows a life that is changed. His humility is astounding. He faith is such that his confidence is in the Lord.  He believes that his defeats were part of God’s plan, and his victories are not because of his strength, but God’s.

Springing back from his back to back losses against Bradley & Marquez, our ravaged nation now sees him as a symbol of courage, faith, hope and determination to overcome obstacles by God’s grace. At the same time, it showed everyone that God is indeed faithful, and really honors those who honor Him. We just have to put our trust in Him.

Thank you, Manny Pacquiao, for showing us what faith is; that it is not about winning, but about trusting the hand of God despite struggles & pain, and when things do not go our way. And in your victories and even in defeats, you never fail to give God the glory.

The Lord has given us another reason to rejoice.

Manny Pacquiao

Manny dominates Rios with speed and strategy
Photo: AP

bangon

A Taclobanon cheering for Pacquiao with a sign:
“That was just Yolanda. We’re for Pacquiao. God bless Tacloban. We will rise.”
Photo: Bulilit Marquez, AP

victory

The jubilant Taclobanons after the announcement of Pacquiao’s victory.
Photo: Bulilit Marquez, AP

Eastern Visayas Moves Forward

Two weeks after the super typhoon, things are looking up in Eastern Visayas. Residents, with the help of the government and volunteers, have begun clearing the affected areas. In  Samar, a Merry Christmas sign is seen among the signs that ask for help. A perfect reminder of the message of Christmas. One home has already set up Christmas lights using a generator. Though there is still sadness over what happened, at least people now have a more positive outlook.

Metro Manila continues to gear up as hundreds of survivors arrive everyday. Private sectors and civilians volunteer to take the survivors to their relatives & friends around the metro, and even to the nearby provinces in Luzon.  Some homes have temporarily adopted families that do not have relatives in Luzon. Sixteen Metro Manila cities have agreed to adopt Eastern Visayan towns that were battered by the typhoon. The Filipino bayanihan spirit (spirit of communal unity) is alive everywhere. Things are indeed looking up. Eastern Visayas is still far from total rehabilitation, but no matter how long it will take, the Filipinos will endure and rise up. We still need help.

To all countries that have extended their help to the Philippines. We will never, ever forget this. Your kindness will be told even to the next generations to come. MARAMING, MARAMING SALAMAT!

But the biggest gratitude is to the Lord. His hand continues to move and uplift us. He alone is the strength of the Filipino people. YOURS IS THE GLORY, OH GOD!

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very presenthelp in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Psalm 46:1-3

___________

The following are encouraging pictures amidst the disaster.

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Maj. John Orio went to Samar to help in relief operations, and was surprised to get a taste of Filipino hospitality despite the devastation they face. He received coconuts & a giant crab from the people as a sign of their gratitude.

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Typhoon survivors cope by playing basketball amid the rubble.

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Ref Raft: Filipino ingenuity at its finest.
Fishermen have started using refrigerators in place of the boats that were destroyed just so they could start all over again.

Image

Children from Tacloban have found their smiles again.

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Little Heart of Gold. A boy is seen carrying this little girl during the distribution of food in Tacloban. The boy said they are not related, but he had to remove the little girl from the crowd fearing that she might get lost or even hurt in the surge of people. He promised to just get food for her.

tindog

Taclobanon signage:
Tindog Leyte. Tindog Tacloban. (Rise up, Leyte. Rise up, Tacloban)

Image

Laban Pacquiao! (Fight, Pacquiao!)
Despite the devastation, Taclobanons are still in full support of Manny Pacquio in his fight this Sunday. Congressman Pacquiao, on the other hand, dedicates the bout to Visayans and vows to visit Tacloban and stay with the people there after the fight,

A big MARAMING SALAMAT from the Filipino people.

Slowly Rising from the Rubble

It has been a week after the typhoon hit the center of the Philippines. Thousands have died, thousands more are injured, and many are still missing. Over the week, reports of chaos, hunger and slow response & relief operations of the government dominated the news everywhere. But after a week, things have started change.

Relief goods are starting to reach the affected areas. Clean up operations are now in motion. C130s and Philippine Marine ships that deliver the goods return to Manila or Cebu with survivors who have chosen to leave the devastation behind. Bodies are now in cadaver bags and longer covered with blankets or what used be to house roofs, and are being buried in mass graves. The presence of the military is now evident. One female soldier even went as far as breastfeeding some of the infants in an evacuation center. Volunteers from different countries have set up soup kitchens & makeshift hospitals. Amidst the tears, a lot of the survivors have regained their golden smiles Filipinos are known for. Precious laughters are now present as one news reporter interviewed some women who joked about their slippers that do not match & how they scrub their teeth with their shirts.

It’s still a long way to go before central Philippines fully recover. It’s still a long road to rehabilitation. But the journey to this recovery has already started. Everyone is looking forward to a brighter tomorrow. There is hope. And as if to make this hope more visible, a rainbow was seen a week after the typhoon; a rainbow painted across the Tacloban sky.

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A rainbow appears over Tacloban a week after the typhoon.

There’s so much to learn from this tragedy. I’ve come to appreciate more the resilience of the Filipinos, and the strength of the Filipino spirit. Acts of heroism are all over, and how the whole country responded to the cry of help is overwhelming. There are students skipping meals and donating their lunch money. Companies cancelling their Christmas parties and giving their budget instead. Little kids bring their piggy banks filled with money they saved for Christmas. The list goes on and one.

More overwhelming is the support from different countries around the world. Moved by compassion, they did not only send financial help, but they also sent volunteers and equipment. These people, Filipinos and foreigners alike have brought back my faith in humanity.

The development in Visayas only proves that God is not blind to the suffering of people. He sees. He listens. And he responds. He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps. 46:1) He is why we have hope.

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A tattered Philippine flag flies as a reminder that Central Philippines will rise from the rubble.

An Appeal to my Fellow Filipinos: Please Stop Bashing the Government

The situation in Visayas is still devastating. Communication has been restored, but relief operations have been extremely slow. On Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media, all I can see are posts & comments blaming the government for their slow action. There’s a lot of comments of complaints & blames in the cyberworld,  and sadly, Christians are also part of the bashing.

Now I have to admit that I am one of those people who have lost their confidence in the government. The immense corruption is as unspeakable as the devastation caused by Haiyan. However, is this really the time for bashing? Does it solve anything at all?

No, it doesn’t! Our countrymen are still dying of thirst & hunger. Some have died because of infection cause by wounds left untreated. They are still exposed to diseases because most of the bodies are still left unburied. Locals have already dug mass graves for their dead, no matter how painful that is.

I am not saying that the government is faultless. But they are not heartless. They may be slow. They may lack strategy. There may be lapses in judgment. But they are not heartless. Government officials and government agencies are working 24/7 trying to alleviate the situation. Some of their families are also victims of Haiyan. Of course we want prompt action. We want things quick because we are talking about the lives of our fellow Filipinos. But we have to consider that communication was down for a few days. Electricity until now has not been 100% restored. Roads were blocked and until now, some roads are not passable. I’m sure the Philippine government is doing its best to clear the roads, and restore whatever needs to be restored.

International media has put the Philippine government in bad light. I don’t blame them. They report objectively, and they report what they see. But surely, there are things that they do not.

I appeal to my fellow Filipinos, most especially to my fellow Christians, to stop the complaints. Let us stop blaming & bashing our government. Let us just work together & help our government in their relief efforts. There’s just so much pain and suffering out there. Let us not add hatred.

Let us pray not only for the victims of Haiyan, but also for our government. Pray for guidance and wisdom that relief efforts will be done more effectively and more promptly. To my fellow Christians, this is the time when we can show everyone that there is Hope amidst the destruction. Instead of taking part in the government-bashing, let us spend our time helping the victims, praying for them, and making Christ known to them.

President Aquino with Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas surveying damages in Tacloban Airport.

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My deepest gratitude to the countries who have donated and sent help to the Philippines. You have helped my countrymen immensely. God bless you all!

Prayer for the Philippines

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG4uLwuCW1E

Sovereign God,

Unspeakable disaster has come upon our country, and such disaster has never been experienced here before. I come before You in humility, but in confidence that You will listen. It is hard to understand why this has happened, especially since Bohol and Cebu are just starting to pick up the pieces and rebuilt their lives after the October 15 earthquake. No one knows Your purpose and why You allowed this to happen, but I believe this happened for a reason.

And while I trust in Your wisdom, that something good will come out of this devastating situation, Lord, I pray that You cause help to arrive in Eastern Visayas soon. May they be given ample supply of food, water and medicine as soon as possible. The survivors may not have died of drowning, but they are dying of hunger.

Lord, please comfort them. They have lost their loved ones, their homes, their dignity. I know You hear their cries. May those who are still missing be found and be reunited with their families. But if they are already gone, may You bring closure to their families. Help them recover for the emotional trauma they are suffering from right now.

I pray for peace and order. People are in survival mode and are ransacking establishments just to find food. I pray for the safety of the people there, and of the volunteers who are there to help.

May the victims of Haiyan see you amidst their sorrow. May they find You in the darkest hour of their lives. May they know that You are their only hope. May they realize that You are more powerful than the strongest storms. And may everyone see Your glory in this situation and worship You!

In Jesus’ name,
Amen!

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