MY THOUGHTS AND INSIGHTS ON DISCIPLINE FOR SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT


DISCIPLINE FOR SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Brief Summary on Matthew Chapter 6
It is one of the 6 Sermons of Jesus on the Mount. It talks on the principles related to our relationship to God in worship, and to our relationship to material things. Matthew chapter 6 also teaches that true righteousness of the kingdom must be applied in the everyday activities of life. Most of the time, Jesus took the Pharisees as His example, how they use religion to cover up sin. In other words, their righteousness was insincere and dishonest. The Pharisees practiced it for the applause of men, not for the reward of God. It teaches further that true righteousness must come from within (from our heart). We should test ourselves to see whether we are sincere and honest in our Christian commitment. Chapter 6 will give us the principles on how we will develop our spiritual life. Continue reading

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HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

High School is the most unforgettable school days of my life, or I may say for almost all. It is in those years that we developed close relationship with one another because of the four years of being together as classmates. We began to have crushes which blossomed into a very romantic friendship, extending into a longtime commitment to get married after college graduation. Just to mention a few of the memories.
One most memorable experience I have is the yearly reunion that the alumni had organized held every Easter Sunday. It is an almost a week activity hosted by the batch class celebrating the Silver Jubilee after graduation. There is a one year preparation depending on the theme selected, which means a never ending communication among classmates, year after year.
I belong to batch class ’66. Last April this year, we cohosted with Batch 1986 (the Silver Jubilarians), our batch celebrated the 45th year or the Sapphire Jubilee. This year’s theme was “The Wonderful World of Advertising”. The activities started on Easter Sunday with a Holy Mass for all the alumni followed by a costume parade and presentations of different advertisements of participating batch classes. Our class though had another activity in the evening, our class bonding time, the Aloha Night – games, singing, dancing and of course eating. On the second day, lunch was served for all the jubilarians. Alumni Night followed – a special kuratsa dance number, a money contest for the Alumni King and Queen for the year, awarding of prizes and dance for everybody. This is a whole night affair and ends after the turnover ceremony to the batch class to host the next year alumni home coming, who will decide on the theme. On the following day in the late afternoon was the party by the beach, another enjoyable casual activity for all, with programs, food and dancing, etc.
Activities were tiresome but everybody enjoyed the fun. The whole town was in a festive mood celebrating with everyone. This is also a time where many “balikbayans” alumni working abroad come home just to attend this grand homecoming event. Alumni always look forward to this event every year.

A group picture taken after the Holy Mass

 

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WORLD RELIGIONS OVERVIEW

Definition
Religion is a set of beliefs that answers the ultimate questions: What is ultimate reality? What is the nature of the world? What is the nature of humanity? What is humanity’s primary problem? What happens after death? Such a definition means that a religion does not necessarily include a belief in God, a set of rituals or a class of clergy or priests. People believe that world religions are a confusing array of beliefs, practices, and histories. In order for us to make a sense of world religions, we will look at it from a wider perspective.
Why the Religious Urge?
A. The religious urge within humanity is what sets us apart from the rest of the created order. Only humans have the need to have a foundation for meaning and hope that goes beyond our everyday existence. While we have this religious urge, each person is spiritually torn. We have two conflicting kinds of reactions to God: we are drawn to Him, but, we want to run away from Him. This is illustrated on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
B. As sinful human beings, we have an urge to escape that which we believe constrains (forces) us, and we see God as the Source of that constraint. When we are given a law, we rebel against it. Paul wrote about this urge in the Book of Romans. He wrote three-step process to our pushing God away:
a. Awareness
* We are aware of God’s existence even at the start of creation. Every level of the universe points to an intelligent and almighty Designer.
* The fact that we have a conscience indicates that a holy and personal God is the source of our sense of right and wrong.
* The provision that we receive through nature indicates that God is good and that He cares for those whom He created.
* As we look at the grandeur and the beauty of creation, we ought to be struck with wonder and awe.
b. Suppression
* Although God has made His existence abundantly evident, we have suppressed that truth. (In the story of the Prodigal Son, there was the rejection, the realization, the return, the relationship of love, and the restoration of the relationship).
c. Replacement
* We are like the son. Initially, we push God away because of the constraints we feel He is placing on us, or because we view Him as a threat to our secure world. We fill that void with various things like: living a good life so as to earn God’s favor, filling our lives with material goods, worldly successes, or exhilarating (exciting) experiences, techniques for manipulating spiritual energy, rituals by which to evoke the gods, getting in touch with spiritual beings who are less threatening than an absolutely holy and sovereign God.
* It is through this replacement that we come to be involved in different religions and religious rituals. Each religion has its own set of beliefs that point out to the ultimate Being up there.
C. Finally we saw that forgiveness, like being a son, is a gift to be received, not earned.
Is there Truth in Non-Christian Religions?
A. All religions contain some truth, and Christians should be encouraged to recognize and appreciate that truth. Islam / Muslim, for example, is strong in its appreciation for the greatness of God. We also learned of the different beliefs of the other religions discussed.
B. While we acknowledge, appreciate and respect the truth that can be found in other religions, that does not mean that such religions contain saving truth, or a truth that leads to salvation. We must always remember to consider the distinctive of the Gospel that: Jesus lived in history, God Himself became flesh, Humanity is spiritually dead, God is absolutely holy, Jesus conquered death, and salvation is a free gift.

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My Thoughts and Insights on the Book: Created To Be God’s Friend

God Shapes Those He Loves

In this book the author tells that even before the foundation of the world God already chose us that we should be holy and blameless before Him. God chooses a person, regardless of who he is, whom He will shape and develop for His purposes. Once he responds immediately to the call, he will experience changes for his betterment. God may add or even subtract something in his character and attitude so that he could be developed to the kind of person that God could use for His glory. It takes only his faith for God to start the process.

Abraham was used as an example in this book. God called Abraham to be His friend, shaped and developed him to become the Father of all nations. God’s calling us to become His friend is not only for a selected few but for all those who will respond in faith and trust in Him. It is only until then that God will cause changes in every area of a person’s life. It is not an easy choice because he will undergo trials, crisis and sufferings along the way. Once he perseveres to the end, great blessings await him.
God’s promises will be fulfilled just as He fulfilled His promise to Abraham. Abraham’s great faith on the One who called him brought him many blessings up to his generations and that includes us. The process will be smooth and easy if we totally submit our lives to His control.

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My Thoughts and Insights on Hinduism

HINDUISM

Origin of Hinduism
The origin of Hinduism can be traced back to around 1500 B.C. in what is now India. It began as a polytheistic and ritualistic religion. At first the rituals were simple enough performed by the head of the household. As centuries passed, they became increasingly complex, and it became necessary to create a priestly class and to train priests to perform the rituals correctly. As a result of the emphasis on the rituals, the priests became the sole means by which people could approach and appease the gods. As such, priests gained power and control over the lives of the people. Around 600 B.C. the people revolted, and the form of Hinduism that emerged after the revolt emphasized the importance of internal meditation as opposed to the external rituals.

The Beliefs of Hinduism
1. The impersonal Nature of Brahman – as being an impersonal oneness that is beyond all distinction, an impersonal force of existence and view the universe as being continuous with and extended from the Being of Brahman.
2. The Brahman/Atman Unity – that they are in their true selves (atman) extended from and one with Brahman.
3. The Law of Karma – is the moral equivalent of the natural law of cause and effect. The effects of our actions, follow us not only in the present lifetime but from lifetime to lifetime, which is why there is reincarnation.
4. Samsara (Reincarnation) – refers to the ever-revolving wheel of life, death and rebirth.
5. Moksha (Liberation) – the solution in Hinduism is to be liberated (moksha) from the wheel of life, death, and rebirth.

Karma and Sin Compared and Contrasted
Similarities:
• Both involve moral issues.
• Both affirm the existence of a cause and effect relationship between our actions and the results they produce in our present lives.
Differences:
* Karma does not affect one’s relationship with Brahman, which is the essence of existence within all things
* Sin does affect our relationship with God .
The law of karma, does not allow for the possibility of forgiveness. Its consequences are inevitable and inescapable.
*Because God is personal, and because persons can forgive, God can forgive us of our sins. He has done so through Jesus Christ.

The Hindu Scriptures
The earliest of the Hindu scriptures are the Vedas which means knowledge, it has the same root as the English word “wisdom” and the Greek oida (to know). There are four Vedas: the Rig Veda, The Sama Veda, the Yadur Veda, and the Atharva Veda. Each Veda is divided into four parts: the Mantras (the basic verses or hymns sung during the rituals, the Brahmanas (explanations of the verses, the Aran-yakas (reflections on their meaning), and the Upanishads (mystical interpretations of the verses). These scriptures are called shruti, which means “that which is heard.” Shruti literature is the Hindu equivalent to scripture that is revealed.

Suggestions for Evangelism
1. offer Jesus” forgiveness
2. keep God’s Personhood in mind
3. ask and listen
4. have a humble spirit
5. focus on Jesus
6. be aware of differing definitions

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