Saturday, December 31, 2011

Five Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Theologian Jonathan Edwards made five resolutions in his youth and lived by then faithfully.

1. Live with all my might while I do live. (He died at 55.)

2. Never lose one moment of time, but improve it in the most profitable way possible.

3. Never do anything I should despise or think meanly of in another.

4. Never do anything out of revenge.

5. Never do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

New Year, New Beginnings

(Note: I wrote this blog in January 2009 for another site. I am sharing it to you once more.)

“Tabula rasa.” White or blank slate. I remember that term from my philosophy classes in Ateneo. It was emphasized that in order to learn, we need to wipe our slates clean, to rid ourselves of biases and pre-conceived notions or prejudicial paradigms. In everyday words, open your mind.

Many of us long to start the year with a blank slate, a fresh start, a new beginning. We will be hearing Philippians 3:13 preached in many churches for the next few weeks – “…forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” But many of us, myself included, find it difficult to forgive ourselves from our failures in the past which we allow to haunt us like the Dickensian Ghost of Christmas Past.

I remember a song we sung in a musical I directed years ago. The chorus goes, “I’m gonna finish the song this time / Don’t have to start it over again / And if I fail, I just pick up the beat again / It isn’t the end…” And further on it goes, “Because I’m… walking in the light and I’m forgiven / walking without fear out in the open…” At least, that’s how I remember the lyrics.

We don’t need to start over again. We can begin where we are and experience God’s healing and grace exactly where we are in our lives. To erase memories of the past, like pressing the delete key in our computers, is to miss out on some of the most important lessons in life. To refuse to look at our broken past is to fail to see some of the most glorious moments of God’s mercy and grace.

What God would like to erase entirely is the guilt and shame of the past. Yes, we have failed, and miserably at that, but listen to Isaiah 1:18. “Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Yes, we can have a new beginning. But not by being determined or motivated enough to do better next time. Not by making vows and new year’s resolutions with all the seriousness we could muster. But by resting in God’s love and assurance of forgiveness. He is the God of second chances. And third… and fourth… and so on…

Happy New Year. Happy New Beginnings.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Starting Over

I'm reviving this blog after a couple of years of inactivity. Honestly, I'm not sure I would have the discipline, nor the motivation to maintain it, but I'm gonna give it another shot.

At the start of this year, I was all gung-ho rah-rah-rah about 2011. But for this coming year, 2012, I feel very differently.

Maybe because this is the quietest Christmas season I've ever had. For one, our clan decided to forego our traditional annual family reunion for some legitimate reasons (and if I'm not mistaken, it's the first time it was ever cancelled). I also did not have my usual whirlwind of Christmas productions (I had to pass on to another director the only one I actually had). And besides, I spent the midnight between December 24 and 25 at the emergency room of Capitol Medical Center. I'm okay now, but still under medication.

But don't get me wrong. Not feeling like a cheerleader to welcome the new year does not in any way mean that I am not expecting much of 2012. In fact, I believe this coming year holds a lot of major changes in my life. And without attempting to get into one of those predictions, I personally feel that 2012 will be a milestone for our country's history as well.

Yes, I'm still excited about the new year, but in a quieter, albeit deeper kind of way. So let someone else lead the welcome parade while I stand on the side, applaud, and let out a big sigh of gratitude.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)