What a depressing news!  After 60 years, Circuit City has closed all of its stores in the United States. The rest of the inventory was sold for less than 1.5Billion USD. 34,000 people were being laid off across the United States.  Their business interventions initiated since November 2008 have all failed.  Now all the stores are going to be permanently closed.

One wonders how long and how deep this economic slide is going to be?

One news item in Canton, Ohio showed about 800 job applicants for a school custodian.  It pays $15 – 16/hour.  One could only imagine how deep and how bad the economy is doing in their town when 800 people and more are applying for the same job.  People from all different educational backgrounds have applied for this position.

God, the whole world is hurting right now.  So many thousands of people have lost their means of income.  People are going to be hungry – and many people have lost their homes, investments, savings…. Lord, people are losing their all.

Please be merciful.  Please surround us with your mercy and grace.

As people get to be fearful because of these economic losses, may we all find our strength, comfort, provision and protection in the loving arms of Christ Jesus!

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What a depressing news!  After 60 years, Circuit City has closed all of its stores in the United States. The rest of the inventory was sold for less than 1.5Billion USD. 34,000 people were being laid off across the United States.  Their business interventions initiated since November 2008 have all failed.  Now all the stores are going to be permanently closed.

One wonders how long and how deep this economic slide is going to be?

One news item in Canton, Ohio showed about 800 job applicants for a school custodian.  It pays $15 – 16/hour.  One could only imagine how deep and how bad the economy is doing in their town when 800 people and more are applying for the same job.  People from all different educational backgrounds have applied for this position.

God, the whole world is hurting right now.  So many thousands of people have lost their means of income.  People are going to be hungry – and many people have lost their homes, investments, savings…. Lord, people are losing their all.

Please be merciful.  Please surround us with your mercy and grace.

As people get to be fearful because of these economic losses, may we all find our strength, comfort, provision and protection in the loving arms of Christ Jesus!

What a weekend it was.  I got really drained and joy was taken from me.  I could liken it to a leaking faucet.  Small, continuous droplets may not seem significant, but when you collect over time, you realize how much water has been lost.

It could be like that sometimes.  My weekend was one of those where the faucet just leaked continuously and at the end of the weekend, I was dead tired.

First, I noticed that I inadvertently lost my stylus.  Sure it can be replaced easily but finding the stylus appropriate for my old HP IPAQ rx3417 could be challenging.  I kept looking and looking and still it was nowhere to be found.  I could still use my pocket pc but since I do not have the stylus, it is impossible to do a soft-reset.

Last Saturday night, I went to a wake of a friend’s mom.  At the wake, a classmate approached me for some help.  Her problems got a little too overwhelming for her that she ended up being confined to the intensive care unit after overdosing on diazepam.  She would later tell me that she went to Quiapo church and did a confessional about her accidental overdose.  I felt a silent anger inside when she told me that the old priest who heard her confession, reprimanded her and called her selfish for doing such thing.  There was no tinge of sympathy offered to this friend who was in such emotional pain.

I was about to leave at almost midnight – and when I turned on the key to the ignition, the engine would not start.  Aaarrggh… my battery was dead.  Two men from the wake offered their help and helped me jumpstart the car.

Sunday morning, I woke up with a migraine.  Must be from the late nights lately.  I was supposed to attend a local church where a younger friend was about to give his very first sermon, but due to the migraine, there was no way I could go out of the house and drive 45minutes to hear him speak.

After lunch, after taking in a pain reliever, my wife and I ventured outside to get some groceries.  Aaarrgh, the car would not start.  Thanks to Brett and Didz who helped me push the car to jumpstart it again.  A quick alternator test revealed that I needed to change my battery.  Another painful drip….

Well we got to S& R in Alabang.  It is a wholesale membership club which we recently joined because we discovered that their dog food is more reasonably priced than SaveMore.  We were just eating our favorite ice-cream when a middle-aged lady passed by pushing her cart.  We were so surprised to see her with (I quickly counted!) 36 bottles of Kirkland Daily Multivitamins (P1,000 per bottle)! She was pushing P36 thousand pesos worth of vitamins!

My wife and I shook our heads.  Yes we were at a wholesale club – but that was clearly what we would call HOARDING. There was a time when we couldn’t find any vitamins because they were always running out.  GO FIGURE!

My wife and I did some calculations.  One tablet of KIRKLAND DAILY MULTIVITAMIN cost P1.99.  One bottle contains 500 tablets – and at P1.99 per piece, that is so cheap compared to vitamins available in Mercury Drugstores.  I just felt sad for the majority of the Filipinos who do not have access to such reasonably priced vitamins.  The cheapest vitamin i bought from Mercury Drugstore was Revicon which was priced at P4 a piece!  Another drip…

When we got out of the wholesale club, we noticed something quite different on the rear bumper. My rear bumper had a rip on the middle part and the left side came un-hinged.  With my blood pressure rising, I knelt down to inspect it and to much to my chagrin, there was not even a scratch.  No dent, no scratch, no paint fading.. nothing. But the rear bumper was ripped.  Someone must have hit it with a cart or something and just took off.

What a downer. The front hood had just been replaced and buffed several days ago – and now the rear bumper has a rip.

Little things… they are like continuous drips… watch out because these little things can take your joy away.

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This was the statement of a 12-year old boy whose father died last January.  I did not know his Dad and his Mom very well because I only met them once at a Couples’ Dinner  hosted by a local church.

This pastor and his wife were the hosts for the whole evening and they entertained the couples by singing some very romantic Filipino love songs.

When I visited our congregation in Antipolo last sunday, I was informed that this pastor had passed recently.

At the funeral, his eldest child, uttered the statement that I quoted above. “Please pray for me – so that I can be a pastor someday like my dad…”

I drove home thinking about that grieving family.  They lost their father at a very young age.  And the grieving wife will still go through the grief work in the coming months.

Everything after his death will be processed primitively according to this:

1. When he was still alive

2. After his death.

Please pray for this very young family who just lost a husband, a father and a pastor.

May God tenderly wrap them in His embrace when the tears come and the sadness surround them.

Thank you Lord for the beautiful life and what this pastor shared with the flock.  Please take care of his loved ones.  They are very special in your sight. She is now a widow and the children are now father-less.

Not even death could separate us from your love.

Please surround them with your loving grace.

I surrender them in your hands, where they are most loved and most taken care of.

Amen

The war veterans are dying…

February 27, 2009

I settled into my nice and comfortable chair at a local coffee joint, and started to peruse the newspaper recently, when an article jolted me to some harsh realities that our veterans are going through.

One section featured several haunting pictures of the Filipino World War II veterans.  The pictures were taken last February 23rd right inside the Veterans Memorial Hospital.  Their names and birthdays were displayed as their pictures were taken (similar to a mug shot) as many of them were hooked up on tubes and hospital machines.

Many of them are in their 80’s – and are still waiting for any of the promised WWII war veteran benefits.  They stand to receive $9,0000 in cash if they are already based here – and those veterans who are already based in the US, according to the news article, stand to receive $15,000 each.

That is a big amount when converted to Philippine pesos.  Money that these war veterans need right now to cover their medical and hospital expenses.

I pray that these benefits will be given to them soon.

Many of them could hardly attend to participate in ceremonies honoring their fallen comrades because of old age and health conditions.

I pray that our government would help expedite the whole process so that the benefits will still reach the withered hands of those who fought for our freedom more than 60 years ago.

“I pray that I would still see my Dad…” she started sharing some of personal things that were going on in their family but tears overwhelmed her.  She grabbed a handkerchief but was too slow to cover her eyes as tears went streaming down her cheeks.  We were all quiet as a friend who sat next to her tried to comfort her.

This was just one of the things that was shared during a youth leadership session with 21 young people from our outreach in Norzagaray Hills Village.  Due to the Advisory Council meeting that day, we planned for these young people to come to the office for the meeting in the afternoon.

We went through some initial materials on group dynamics and after our break, proceeded to talk about some more serious stuff.  These young men and women have very difficult backgrounds and I thought it would be more appropriate to begin by addressing the intra-personal issues they may have in relation to how they think God perceives their situations to be.

We went through the material that I had used so many times with the young people in recent years.  It is entitled “Our Thinking Vs  God’s.”  This scripturally-based comparison would help a person understand what he is going through and have a glimpse of how God is looking at the same picture but with His divine perspective.  Many of us are going through our daily grind wondering if God really cares or understands what we go through.  And if He does, why is it that help is so slow in coming?

We went through those individual points and I shared some of my personal testimonies highlighting some of the scriptures.  Then I asked them “how about you?  Which of these thoughts are you entertaining right now?  Where do you need God’s word to be made manifest in your life?”

“I can’t manage..” said one young person.

“I have little faith…” another at the back said

” I am afraid…”

And the rest shared.  I asked some of them to share more according to the level of their comfort, and this young person said “I pray that I would still see my Dad…”

I challenged them to start telling themselves the words of God in their lives. I challenged them to look past the physical things and through the eyes of faith, look at how God is looking at them – not with the strict, let-me-measure-how-right-you-are-doing-your-life kind of a look, but rather, a very compassionate Father who desires to lift us from where we are and take us to where He wants us to be.

When the tears of that young person had subsided, I gathered them in a circle.  We prayed and I lifted their some of the concerns they mentioned:

– a job interview for one of the leaders

– forgiveness and reconciliation between family members for another young person

– provision for the mother of a young person whose health condition seems to be deteriorating

– provision for a medical check-up for one of the leaders

– money for tuition fee for those who will be graduating from highschool

– for all of them to do well in their studies

– for the NHV youth group to really come to an intimate relationship with the Lord.

We sang “Ang Tanging Alay” as our closing prayer.

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to minister to them.  The burdens they carry are too heavy for their young hearts to fully understand.  Give them hope. Give them your peace and your joy.  Let them see Your perspective in the light of Your goodness and grace. Let them all come to Jesus and believe.  Let them know how much You have loved them from the very foundations of this world.  Thank you for taking care of them.   I know that they are special in your sight.  They may be going through difficult times now – but they are like a bruised reed, that you would not break.

I commit all of them in the precious hands of Jesus, who loves them more than anyone else would, and could.

AMEN