In Broad Daylight

God protected the Israelites by foiling Balaam’s sorcery. The Hebrews had no idea that God saved them while they were sleeping. Frustrated, Balaam packed up his stuff and walked away. We thought the story ended there, that he quit his trade and turned over a new leaf after his encounter with God. Not quite.

In the next chapter, we learned of a massive, large scale adultery going on among Hebrew men and Moabite women. At first glance. it would seem like this is a separate story, totally unrelated to what happened in the previous chapter. However, a closer look reveals that it was Balaam who advised the Moabites to send their women to seduce the Hebrews.

The plan worked, the Israelite men committed shameless adultery in broad daylight even in front of the tabernacle. This roused God’s fierce anger that on that same day, 24,000 Hebrew men died. Moab succeeded in inflicting damage to Israel. Their temple prostitutes succeeded where black magic failed. At the end of that grim day, Israel was left weaker and more vulnerable. God’s divine protection upon them came to nothing when they willfully sinned.

The story tells us one very obvious truth: God’s divine protection works best if we stay within it, if we don’t wander away flirting with sin. The moment we venture outside his will, our security is automatically compromised.

In the end, Balaam got his wealth but he didn’t enjoy it. Numbers 31: 8 tells us that he died when Moses sent his troops to battle with the Midians. He got his just deserts. His love of money was his downfall.

Another obvious truth worth mentioning is that when the devil can’t use pain to destroy us, he uses pleasure. Everyone knows this. Everyone, beware of this.


Worn Out Slippers

It was the time for celebration again. Our sisters who were working in Manila came home after a few years of work, brought presents for a family of 10 and shared about their experiences in the big city while we, kids, listened in wonder about stories of big supermalls, elevators, traffic, and the “glitter” of urban life. I was 11, we lived in the mountainous parts of Leyte, I’ve never seen a big bus, never been inside an air conditioned building, no idea what escalators were, and what it was like to speak Tagalog everyday.

My sisters’ vacation that time was different. They brought something new with them, something we never had in the house before: a big red Tagalog New Testament Bible with Psalms and Proverbs. It was the Good News version so there were stick drawings in the pages. Back then, it was easier for me to locate verses by just looking at the drawings.

Continue reading Worn Out Slippers

The Job Interview

Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. When he came for interview, he noticed that the office was filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. The receptionist instructed him and all the other applicants to wait until they were called to enter the inner office.

After a few minutes, the young man stood up and walked right into the office. The other applicants were confused as they didn’t hear anybody being called. They assumed the young man went in by mistake and that he would be disqualified.

Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled.”

The other applicants grumbled, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!”

The employer said, “I’m sorry, but the last several minutes while you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse Code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his.”

—Source Unknown

Out of Sync

The clock lied to me this morning. I looked at its hands and I was sure it was 6:09 am. I went outside, switched off the lights, went to the bathroom, almost had a shower but decided against it, went back inside my room, looked at my cellular phone for messages and was confused when I saw the time. It was still 3:09 in my phone. I looked at the clock again, the seconds were moving but the time was different from my digital cellphone clock. Still confused, I looked at the sky outside but the artificial lights weren’t of any help. Then I figured that if all the other clocks failed, there’s only one place to go to find the correct time, the world time server in the internet. Within seconds I realized that my analog  wallclock is malfunctioning, my cellphone was right and the correct time was 3:09. Problem solved, pronto.

Our spiritual lives are somewhat similar to clocks. Our batteries can go weak, we can get busted with the wear and tear of the daily grind, and most importantly, there are times, lots of times in fact, when we are out of synch with the real clock, the Holy Spirit. Then the world sees us, looks at us, tries to “read” us, and walk away confused because we sometimes convey the “wrong time.” Thankfully, we have one standard that will never change- God himself, and we all have the option to align ourselves to his will.

Romans 8: 5-6 says it categorically. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires…

Now that’s some serious stuff to swallow. That verse clearly spells two options for us: to be in synch with the Spirit of God or with carnality. No middle ground there, it is a choice that we have to make every single day.

Galatians 5: 16-17 tells us how. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature…”

Is your mind in synch with the Holy Spirit? It’s so easy to tell. Just list down the kind of thoughts that consume your mind when you’re not particularly thinking about anything, like when you’re driving alone, or lying on your bed at night, or when you’re riding a bus. Are your thoughts something that you can videotape and show in church on Sunday morning?

Just wondering aloud.