A Filipino man was on an overseas trip. In the hotel lobby, while he awaited his room on the 18th floor to be set, he was approached by a stranger and gorgeous woman. He was asked if he wants a good time with her, but tells her no and that he is married. The man then tailed the hotel porter to the elevator up to his room. Integrity is the unwavering and unchanging display of a person’s uprightness in whatever situations. So Young Kang says, “Integrity requires an inner sense of ‘wholeness’ and consistency of character. When you are ‘whole’ and consistent, there is only one you. You bring that same you wherever you are regardless of the circumstance.” The said description resonates with the Latin adjective integer, where the word integrity evolved from, meaning whole and complete.
Moreover, integrity is something “we’re not born with it - or without it - which means that it’s a behavior-based virtue we can cultivate over time,” says psychologist Seth Meyers. Consequently, we could commence being a person of integrity with the help of God by exercising the following: do what you say you would do, arrive before the scheduled time of appointment, serve others ahead of yourself, be transparent with your spouse, value others opinion, take responsibility for your action, accept your fault and do better, give people the benefit of the doubt, and do a favor for others without expecting in return. Alan Cohen said the test of integrity is when the life you live on the outside matches who you are on the inside.
Furthermore, “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed”. This scriptural passage teaches that whenever our life contradicts not the moral law, authored by God, we are under his favor and watch. While people accuse, blame, or intimidate us on our morally upright principles, as revealed in the Scriptures and the Constitution, God would surely vindicate us as we are on his side. In contrast, people who choose to live the crooked way would find themselves disgrace as God exposes their moral failure for correction and discipline.It says in the book of Proverbs that the integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” (LCM, CRFV)
them.” (LCM, CRFV)
A new year, a fresh start. Celebrating New Year usually invites us to look back with gratefulness for surviving and thriving the past year and, with excitement, we look forward to what lies ahead. Inspired by one’s determination and passion to right the wrongs and bring the right to a higher level, it also gives us a sense of a new life. Such reflection is normally focused on the individual, family relationships and the immediate environment. However, with the current crisis confronting the society, this New Year celebration calls us to widen our perspective of a new start not just for ourselves but also for the nation. This brings us to reflect on the value of patriotism.
Patriotism, or our love for the nation, is the mark of a true citizen. Every citizen then must endeavor to contribute for the good of the nation rather than satisfying one’s personal interest at the expense of this nation. Naturally, a person always looks for the benefit or what he or she gets rather than what he or she gives for being part of a nationality. A true Filipino makes sacrifices to keep this nation free – free from invasion but as well as free from all forms of ills in society. This is what we profess every time we sing our national anthem. Gone are the days that we take advantage of our position, power, or undue influence to amass wealth for personal gain. We abdicate our personal wishes and ambitions for public good.
Looking into the above perspective, exemplifying patriotism is not just determined by patronizing local products. Loving the nation requires us to exert effort for the betterment of the country. A vision for a better Philippines and doing something to make it a reality become part of a citizen’s heartbeat. It does not have to be nationwide in scope. It can be done within our means and within our own influence. We can contribute something in our offices, agency, or barangay. It is proactively creating an impact and significant change within our reach. For instance, policing our own ranks so there will be no corruption and malpractices in government is helpful enough to safeguard our nation from abuse and destruction because our nation can be destroyed internally and need not externally. We work not only for the nation’s independence from foreign intrusions but also from local intrusions by people who profess to love the Philippines yet their actions characterize a traitor.
At the peak of the pandemic, we have heard certain huge amounts of budget that were not properly accounted for. There were services rendered and goods acquired that did not go through the standard operating procedures. News of inefficiencies and other irregularities saturate different media platforms. These are the things that our nation must be protected from. Our nation must have freedom from all forms of impropriety in government if we are to realize progress and prosperity in the country.
In all of these, how much do we care? As we have entered 2021, we must have a new beginning where the old ways are gone and the new living way has become. Let us bring the future in our days by sowing the seeds now. Glory is waving at the horizon. (AOS, CRFV)
As human beings, we are vulnerable to complain about life, family, work, studies, friends, and the people around us. There are lots of things to complain about if we choose to. But King David, the greatest king of Israel, gives us plenty for which to thank God. He encourages us to thank the Lord and never forget the good things he does for us. As per David, the following are some of the things we have to think about, and thank God especially as we end this very challenging year of 2020 due to Covid-19.
First, God heals our diseases. Though not all diseases are being cured for a better purpose. Just liked Apostle Paul, he begged the Lord to take away his physical malady but God answered him, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weaknesses”. God heals our diseases could also mean he restores moral and spiritual life when he forgives liked what he did to David when the king committed adultery and murder. Second, God forgives all our sins. Third, God redeems us from death. Fourth, God fills our life with good things.
Furthermore, we have to thank God for his intervention and provision. He makes a way when there seems to be no way; He provides our needs generously so we will always have everything we need and plenty to share with others. The Scripture also encourages us to be thankful “when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation”.
Due to various needs, problems, and wearies in life; God’s abundant blessings are not being thought of enough by many of us. And pressures and problems look prevailing in one's life. Consequently, a line in the hymn reminds us:
Count your blessings name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God has done.
Count your blessing, name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
A few days from now, we are to cross over into a new year. Because “the Lord our God has taken care of us the whole time”. Accordingly, let us think of God and thank him for salvation, provision, protection, intervention, and even tribulation. Indeed, in life, there is so much to be thankful for than complaints to consider; Count your blessings name them one by one. (LCM, CRFV)
Repentance, in these days and season, must be calling out to most of us stronger than ever. The uncertainty of the current pandemic had us reflecting over our lives and how we’ve been living it. The threat of the COVID-19 has led many to confront the possibility of death - of ourselves, of our loved ones, and the people around us. Those who are mentally and spiritually strong are able to rise above while some of the weak were overcome by fear. Most have begun to put much importance to building up their sense of existence. Many charitable acts were initiated, some relationships were restored, many people have manifested better versions of themselves, advocacies and movements were birthed out, and many more. Of all these things, whether we have realized it or not, one common ingredient that triggered many to take action is the value of repentance - or the lack of it (to those who have deteriorated and gave in to the weakness of the human flesh).
While repentance may have drastically changed or redirected the lives of some people, it is more important for us to look deeply into its attributes and to realize that this virtue is a lifestyle founded on the attitude of our hearts. Our goal? It is to recognize or acknowledge the value of repentance and develop the lifestyle and attitude that comes with it. Being repentant must not only be activated when things are uncertain but must be deeply rooted in our hearts and consciousness. Its fruits must be developed then it must come out naturally and consistently from us. As Thomas Carlyle said, “Of all acts of man, repentance is the most divine…,”which is true as it has the power to change everything in our lives.
Now, how do we begin? Let us start by understanding true repentance - which begins with the KNOWLEDGE of sin which goes on to work SORROW for sin. It then leads to CONFESSION of sin before God then will show itself before a person by a thorough BREAKING OFF from sin. Finally, it results in producing a DEEP HATRED for all sin. Does it look easy? Of course not. That is why we have to look closely within us and develop a heart of flesh from a heart of stone. This is the foundation from which all the fruits of repentance are rooted on. A righteous lifestyle will then become inevitable.
An influential man once said, “A man who repents after doing any action, he will certainly become pure one day, that is definite.” If we ever wish to become pure this is the secret - the key. In short, being quick to repent. How can we figure out the tenderness of our hearts? The level of our repentant attitude? It is when, even in the smallest or seamless sin, we are quick to recognize that it is wrong and we are quick to turn around and mend our ways. As long as we live this way, we will never be swayed nor be tossed to and fro by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. We will become strong pillars that are able to withstand every calamity.
As we have now realized the role of a repentant heart in our pursuit of a meaningful life, let us see further and know that the next step is to enlighten others not only ourselves. We have to keep producing fruit in keeping with repentance. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. One of the manifestations of having a tender heart is our compassion for others. Let us be the voice to speak hope and life to them. Having grown closer to God because of our repentant attitude, he will pour out His thoughts to us and make known to us His teachings, making us effective as His messengers here on the earth. We are now able to represent Him. For He does not take pleasure in the death of anyone, instead, He admonishes all men to repent so that all men might live!
As one people, who are called by God, if we will humble ourselves and pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, will forgive our sins and will heal our land. Let us do this together - not only for ourselves or our loved ones, but for the rest of mankind. We are a company of men and women with tender hearts and repentant attitude. In no time, healing and recovery will come. To heal as one is to work is one. Let us go out into the world and keep sharing God’s call for men to repent and to believe His good news of hope and life. (KMB, CRFV)
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.”
Most people, if not all, since the start of the COVID crisis, started to pray genuinely. Some longer than the usual time and some with more intensified prayer. Driven by whatever reasons, prayer is the norm in this new norm. Prayer is simply talking to God, the God who spoke the universe into creation, who gives breath of life and holds all things together. He is the same God who desires for us to commune and relate to Him. In the vastness of everything, He cares about us individually in whatever situation that we are facing.
Considering the said statement, the question now is, how much do we pray especially in this storm and pandemic-stricken circumstance? How much do we put our prayers into action? When and how often do we pray? Do we pray before, during or after the storm or problems in life?
To answer these questions, let us define the word ‘prayerfulness’. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines it as the condition wherein one is given to prayer, praying much or often as a devout. If we are to be devoted to God, we should go into deep and intensified prayers. This includes meditating on the things of God and His Word, and praying continually in all undertakings. We should therefore commit ourselves to pray for one another just as Prophet Samuel did to the people during his time. In so doing, God changes our hearts and we become like Him.
Storms in our lives may cease but our prayers never do. We pray before the storm, we pray during the storm and we still pray after the storm. For this reason, Saint Paul of Tarsus highly encourages and challenges us to pray without ceasing. Indeed, we will be a nation that will never cease to pray because our God never ceases to intercede for us. Our Great High Priest and intercessor, Jesus Christ, who was raised to life, makes intercession for us.
Billy Graham also said, “True prayer is a way of life, not just for use in cases of emergency”. We must not pray just because we are in an emergency situation or our nation is at a state of calamity. Instead, we pray in both good times and bad times, in sadness and gladness, in sorrow and joy. In everything we do, whether we sit or stand, eat or drink, we do it all for the glory of God. Our lips must be filled with prayers of gratitude and supplications. Imagine if the whole nation unites to pray, not only in disaster and emergency cases, our government will not just save up thousands of pesos for the betterment of our country but also for the next generation - a generation that is in pursuit of prayer. (CD, CRFV)
“God stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.”
The nation has been witnessing too many harrowing storms. While a community is still rebuilding, another threatening tempest is forthcoming. Trauma, fear, anxiety are everywhere and uncertainty grips the future. The people mutter distress, confusion and frustration while seeking help especially from the government that swore to oversee their well-being and protect its citizenry. Many Filipinos struggled and some have started to complain. A lot of people prayed but some still trusted their own strength and instincts.
We have the Almighty God who sits on the throne in heaven and never abdicates His position of power. When He speaks, all of creation quiets down and listens. Even the strongest of typhoons in the east and hurricanes in the west are stilled to a whisper whenever He moves. With these things in mind, we must be led to fully trust Him and humble down to honor, worship and utter praises to our Great God. We are reminded that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put our confidence in men. The people that we look up to have limitations and their words or actions may fail us but God never will. Therefore, let us praise to give thanks and worship Him - honor Him for His unfailing love and for His wonderful deeds for mankind.
Praise and worship should be the norm in the midst of the storms that we are experiencing. Whenever we praise and worship Him, we acknowledge that He is supreme and very much in control over our lives. Moreover, praise and worship rejects fear; instead, we enter into a triumphant life that is full of faith as God inhabits the praises of His people. As He dwells in our midst, He rises to scatter the enemies - seen or unseen. That’s why we can boldly say that if He is for us, who and what can be against us? Further, praise and worship expresses how grateful we are to Him. We start to shut down complaints, ungratefulness and murmurings that attract the spirit of death. Whenever we praise and worship God, inner peace, everlasting joy and tangible hope will flood our innermost being resulting to a life lived in confidence. We can walk victoriously. Oh, we can proclaim that we are more than conquerors!
The next time storms threaten your life, rise up to praise and worship God.
Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
cities of ruthless nations will revere you.
You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
VUCA times! Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous - this is how people would describe these present challenging times. The speed of change is too fast and unpredictable. The many unanswered questions and the fear of the unknown is slowly creeping into the hearts of even the bravest. It has paralyzed their decision-making skills because of complex misconstrued facts. More so, the lack of understanding and clarity of what is really happening around us causes anxiety. Trouble and tribulation indeed has blanketed the world.
In the midst of distressful circumstances and darkness, be of good cheer. God is sovereign and is very much in control. He has overcome the world. As we are with Him and in Him, we can live in peace because He made us to become more than conquerors. The tranquility of our souls is anchored on the blessed, tangible and glorious hope that is in the Victorious Life of Jesus Christ.
Peace is the desire of every person and nation. It is the objective of every prayer declared. It is the promise of every politician. It is also the heartbeat of every religion. Peace is the gallant, spirited and decisive rejoinder to the notion that violence affords. Where conflicts destroy, kill and steal; peace restores, builds, strengthens and provide life.
Peace is always present in every instance of reconciliation. It nourishes the optimism of forgiveness within ourselves and towards the community with whom we share the world. Deng Ming Dao, a Taoist author writes: “When we see ourselves as separate from our community and from nature, then violence and strife arise. It is only when we understand our part in an overall unity that there is the possibility of peace on a large scale.” “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” Above all, be reconciled and reconnected to God. Beyond our weaknesses, frailties and sins; we have “been justified by faith, therefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Possessing peace in our hearts, VUCA will now metamorphose into V-vision, U-understanding, C-clarity and A-agility. We can see the future and will journey towards it in spite of the unpredictable things around us. We view things in the light of what God is saying thus we comprehend soundly to make decisions. We have precision and accurate actions to overcome the obstacles in front of us. And lastly, we have the sprightliness to execute things and yet we have the power to persevere to last the distance until we see the fulfillment of our dreams and aspirations. So we pray, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (JVS, CRFV)
Truth be told, when COVID19 pandemic has first stricken our nation, many feared for its transmission, causing them to stay inside their homes and observe quarantine protocols. However, as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, people started looking for ways to “live with” this pandemic causing business establishments to slowly open up their doors for more people and cities and municipalities to slowly open their borders once again. What’s more, the freedom to roam around that everybody wanted is slowly being granted. However, we have also noticed that for the past weeks, cases of COVID19 infected patients escalated to hundreds of thousands that can lead us to think, “When will this pandemic end?” Why is it still transmitting fast like wildfire when everyone should have learned by now how to protect themselves from it?
Sad to say, widespread stories of exposure of COVID19 positive patients resulted from disobedience to the set quarantine rules and protocols. Imagine someone who tested positive for COVID19 from a drinking spree. Still, another acquired the disease as a result of his/her tour in a known COVID19 infected place. Another got infected for not taking steps to safeguard his/her health like not having enough sleep or not maintaining clean surroundings. Sad to say, this disobedience of some people caused the lockdown of their communities and their workplaces, not to mention endangering the lives of those around them. It’s true, we can heal as one but without adherence to protocols and basic sanitation practices, we can never attain our goal. Yes, we need to survive but we still have to keep safety in mind or we will end up as unnecessary casualties in these trying times. It is basic that we should follow quarantine protocols, not just for our own sake but for the sake of the community we belong to.
Obedience plays a major role in combating this pandemic. Without obedience, people perish. As old as history, we could see that people who caused harm to their environment and nations are those who are practically disobedient to basic rules. One major example of this is Pharaoh of Egypt during the time of Moses. During those days, Moses went to him to bargain for the release of his people, shouting, “Let my people go!” However, he never allowed them to. That disobedience sadly put his people in danger, allowing them, the Egyptians, to experience ten plaques until the point of losing an entire generation of Egyptian firstborns. From here, we can see how the disobedience of one leader led to the suffering of his people. We can therefore conclude that disobedience can result to curses while obedience can lead to blessings. Not only will it keep us from COVID19 but will also allow us to enjoy the best of the land. The Word says, “If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.” (JBB, CRFV)
“...no temptation has overtaken us except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. But when we are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ”
Nowadays, we observe that moral values are deteriorating and among them is the value of godliness and holiness. Saint Paul, in his letter to Timothy said that there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. This current pandemic is pressing us, tempting us to give in and participate in the situation depicted above. Will we strive to be holy or are we going to compromise the principles of godliness just to survive and ‘live’?
Whenever we reflect on the virtue of godliness and holiness, most of us must be thinking that, “it is hard to be holy, I can’t be one. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away and like sheep, we have gone astray; each of us have turned to our own way.
There are two common statements that we usually say or hear to justify mistakes or sinful actions: “sorry, tao lang,” or “sorry, I am not perfect.” Selfish Interest Nature (SIN) has always been embedded in us as human beings – challenging us and tempting us. It is a nature that we must personally wage war against. We must not look at it as a curse to dive into but a victorious journey towards a godly and holy life. While we fall here and there, our humanity taking over once in a while, we must strive to rise back up stronger and wiser - with lessons learned and mistakes to not repeat.
Remember the instances that we get frustrated for being tempted and suffered some consequences? Paul of Tarsus urges us that no temptation has overtaken us except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. But when we are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. We must hang in there and understand that what we are going through is a process and that we are a work in progress. Keep in mind that in the most difficult times, we can kneel and pray for God to give us the strength of will and character to say no to every temptation.
In these times of pandemic, are we being enticed to lie, cheat, steal and do something that is contrary to what is right? Are we tempted to falsify documents to gain more money and advantage for ourselves? Are we on the brink of doing something risky, such as, “kumapit sa patalim,” because of dire need? Are we going to compromise? To what lengths shall we go to satisfy our human needs? Will we fight with all our might to withstand all temptations and work our way towards holiness and godliness or the other way around? Fight will all our might to satisfy our flesh?
In our lifetime, there will always be opposing choices that we need to live through. The battle between good and evil is always present and only one will be victorious in the end. We have learned and heard more than enough to figure out which side is going to win. If we try to recall, in everything and in every circumstance, God has given us the freedom to choose. Where we are right now and the principles we uphold is a result of what we chose to do in the past. Let us choose to be godly and work our way towards holiness. My choice. Your choice. Our choice.
Finally, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. God has called us from darkness into His marvelous light. We are His chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and His special possession. (MAT, CRFV)
Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."
According to John Hopkins Medicine, forgiveness has a significant benefit on our health: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for our health, lowering the risk of a heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. As we are concerned about our health, we have to render forgiveness to the offender and ask and receive forgiveness from the one we have offended.
In the scripture, Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Jesus' response means forgiveness is not being numbered, and it has to be given when asked for it. Such teaching of Jesus is called counter-culture as it goes against the norm of most people in the society: Wherein three strikes and you are out, and two of the same offense by the same person is too much. However, obedience to Christ's teaching on forgiveness has to be live with as it paves the way to his abundant blessings. Apostle Paul also advised: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you"
Furthermore, in order to render forgiveness easily, we should not keep a grudge against a wrongdoer. Let us do ourselves a favor by setting it free from any added inner turmoil or stress due to offense caused by a friend, colleague, neighbor, or family member. Life is already full of challenges; we should not add it up by nursing a grudge against somebody. Truthfully, forgiveness is giving our right to hurt, for our good and well-being, though we have the power to do so.
The Council for the Restoration of Filipino Values espoused on the following four phrases in asking for someone's forgiveness, we say: "I am sorry; please, forgive me; I will not do it again; what can I do to make things right"; as such, has to be practiced sincerely. As a result, we will experience healing, peace, and freedom as we ask for forgiveness and forgive those who have wronged us. Finally, Joanna Fuchs' poem "Forgive" encourages each one to:
Forgive someone. Today forgive.
Turn from bitter to positive.
End frustration, anger, pain;
Wash the anguish from your brain.
CRFV Winning Team
A company of men and women who have committed their lives to the cause of national transformation.