Not A Halloween Story

Every night, of late, we read this book , WWJD “What Would Jesus Do? for kidz” . It is a 3 -year old book in our household but my kids still love reading it .

wwjd

(photo via google books)

Last night was a fitting story for this season. “Is it a Ghost?” was the title of the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. To sidetrack a bit, if you look around and over time, the market has cashed in on pagan halloween festivities that you can see malls luring kids (and parents alike!) with all sorts of tricks ( because you end up spending) and well, some treats. This is their big sale event before Christmas!  As my kids grow up, they understand the meaning of all these, why all the marketing strategies, and why we don’t celebrate it at all.  We remember our loved ones who have gone ahead of us, which gave us a great time of telling stories about their good deeds and the legacy that they left to their children and the generations to come.

Going back, this is not a story of the dead but of the living.  In our Christian walk,  we lay down our graveclothes as we put on a new one when we celebrate a new life in Jesus.   Jesus declared, ” Unwrap him and let him go.” (John 11:44).  Spooky as it seemed to be, (just like a ‘Thriller’ event), it was realized because Jesus loved Lazarus ( it was recorded that He even wept!) and so that the spectators, (including us!) may see the glory of God and a picture of what it means to be have a new life in Him. (You may read the story here.)  We break away from what binds us, putting away the filthiness of those graveclothes. If there are still things that keep us from completely surrendering our life to Him, a new wardrobe is required! (Oh how women love this!)  Graveclothes belong to the dead, not the living!

There is a great offer, never so cheap, not a one big sale that we can pay it on our own.  Jesus offered his life , our new wardrobe, so that we can be wrapped in Him for eternity.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” – John 11:25

 

Beautiful Exchange

Finishing the Book of Isaiah for the nth time still gives me a fresh dose of God’s word, His power (think about parting the sea and leveling the mountains power level!) and His awesome love for its overarching theme points us to His own Son, Jesus , whom “the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6b). 

Back in the university, we were taught that Economics is the allocation of scarce resources as efficiently  as possible to benefit all peoples. During my short stint as a college teacher, I remember my students likened it to a household budget management which I totally agree! Because resources are scarce, there is always a trade-off. We sacrifice one thing for the other. But take a look at this:

1. beauty for ashes

2. joy instead of mourning

3. praise instead of despair

4. a  double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy instead of shame and dishonor!

You may read it in it’s entirety in Isaiah 61.

But not only that, the most beautiful exchange of all came into fulfillment when our Savior stepped on earth , died for us and resurrected so that we may live for eternity! The ultimate sacrifice for mankind –

5. everlasting life instead of eternal wrath and condemnation!

Haven’t you noticed, in God’s economics, He always overpays all the time?  His resources are never scarce. In fact, they overflow! Thank you Lord for we are at the other end of this beautiful exchange!

 

via dwellingintheword.com

 

The Croods Made Me Cry

Our long weekend didn’t stop when we finally settled home.  Since our nephews and nieces were in town and our kids have long been asking for a movie date, we obliged to watch this animated film , the “CROODS”  from Dreamworks , makers of our all-time favorites, “Kung-Fu Panda” and “How to Train your Dragon”.  Perhaps  a slang of  Crudes – basic, rough , pre historic – which aptly describes this bunch of cave-dwelling family + a mother –in-law,  I was wondering,  was there a Filipino in the team of scriptwriters?  Somehow the movie portrays a typical Filipino extended family. I quickly dismissed that thought for after all, that’s how it was, families living together in tribal groups. (But I truly love Gran here, and i love my mom-in-law ,too!)

So we were seated comfortably in the movie house, had a great laugh and heard some cute ones from obviously delighted kids. As the movie progressed however, I felt tears on my cheeks already and can’t help but give my 12 yr-old daughter, Dana a bear hug in the scene with Eep ( the eldest , curious , daughter who obviously started their prehistoric, once-in-a-lifetime adventure) and her dad, Grug ( who was described as all brawn, with limited brains!)  and the more advanced nomad (as he, most importantly, has discovered how to make light through fire),  Guy.  Then I snuggled more closely to my husband, trying to hide the tears, though he was also misty-eyed, and so were some of the adults as I tried to sneak a peek from our seats. I was comforted. It is OKAY to cry even if it’s an animated film.

There were just seemingly real moments to us, like these:

1.      The all-protective dad –  Grug’s motto that has brainwashed his family, but at least, not to Eep, is  “Fear keeps us alive. Never not be afraid. .Anything that is new is bad”.  In short, fear is your weapon for survival. Even his bedtime stories made him prove his point.  In modern times, society dictates, it is the survival of the fittest.  Dads, who are the providers and protectors of the family, at times, sacrifice their relationships with their wives and children at the expense of “provision” for the table.  Grug said it aptly,   “I was just busy, keeping them all alive.”  He realized that when they were outside the comfort of their home – the cave. Moments of discomfort will refine us as a person. Similarly, in our walk with God, there will be moments that He will refine us like silver and test us like gold (Zechariah 13:9), so let us be grateful with the “refining and testing” process. The antidote to the Croods’ motto? “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1John 4:18) Later on, as they were forced to move out of the cave, being ushered into a brand-new world and with all the seismic shocks around them, it is when they realized that they can be more compassionate and appreciative of each other. For what compels these but love?

2.      The supportive wife – Ugga was the caregiver, the nurturer in the family. The submissive wife (although there was time when they got separated from each other,  she had to “think” on her own to get her and li’l Sandy back to their family under a makeshift umbrella and she proved to be a genius! ).  She didn’t have a problem with that role, right up until the time when they were at a crossroad. And this part is what I like.  She entrusted her life and that of her family to Grug’s executive decision of jumping (well, they were “thrown”, actually!) to the other side. “I don’t have ideas, but I have my strength.  It’s all we need.” What a reassuring statement from a husband!

3.      The light after darkness –  There is a new world coming. One that forcefully moves them out of the darkness in the cave. Apart from the cave, they knew nothing. That is why I think Grug’s ideas were so limited. That was his comfort zone. His territory . He’s thinking not out-of-the cave! Ugga had to tell him what was obvious –  “No more caves, Grug.” But out of a flicker of light, hope comes. Out of the light in the horizon, a tiny hope has been sparked.  “No more dark.  No more caves.  What’s the point of all this?  To follow the light…We’re going to jump on the sun and ride it to tomorrow!” Grug said this emphatically, and with all the strength that he could muster, he threw his family members one at a time to the other side of the cliff where they were all reconciled in safety. Will they ever survive in the new world? I don’t know. But one thing’s for sure. They chose to follow the light and they will go on as long as it is called tomorrow.

When was the last time that we experienced darkness in our lives? When all we can think about is hiding back into the cave, our comfort zone, even if it is lurking dark, we like it because we “feel” safe.  We don’t have to stay in caves for long. We can move out of them or outside circumstances let us move out, like what happened to the Croods.  The good news is, there is a light that shines brightly, only if we go out of our caves and reach for it. In the movie, it was cute to see that whenever they saw light, they raised their hands as if to touch it. It was something that they longed for, seemed so near but still out of reach but never out of sight. We can be like that. We see the light, we do not give up, we can reach for the True Light. The One who will illuminate everything and will give us so much joy and freedom! He has an invitation before the “DUN…DUN…DUHHH” ( we keep on mimicking this cute line of the strappin’ monkey, Belt) time arrives!

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photo source: fanpop.com

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When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said,

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

– John 8:12