13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Sometime ago, I wrote about the growth track program our church, the IPJM, has embarked on for its members and leaders. It is part of IPJM’s mission to equip us with life-giving, life-sustaining qualities and eventually become the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” Looking forward to reaching that goal, we will fortify the church and make it grow to its fullest potential.
To achieve this end, L.I.F.E. (Living in Freedom Everyday) students (that’s us) have to go through the entire program of four growth tracks: Church 101, Essentials 201, Discovery 301 and Dream Team. If you find this “teaser” a bit interesting or even intriguing, let this serve as our invitation to you to come and sit with us for 20-30 minutes, from 11:30 to 12 noon every Sunday at the Holiday Inn, Gary Ave., Carol Stream.
And by the way, it isn’t true that “nothing is free in America” for this program is free and what’s more, upon successful completion of the program, you can experience a life of freedom every day.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life:
The biggest stumbling block to embracing the principle of the Tree of Life is our adherence to human knowledge, that idea that our knowledge of good and evil is the key to meeting and satisfying our individual and social needs. We think that knowing and practicing political correctness, ethics and social decorum can make our lives easier and happier. On the contrary, it is the same knowledge that thrusts us into those never-ending conflicts with people, even with our family, friends and acquaintances. For eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil can and will never satisfy us. There will always be a void left to fill up and a lust for more money or power, that won’t ever be satisfied.
A Personal Testimonial
At the Sampaguita Ball in Chateau Ritz last Friday, June 27th I received quite a lot of compliments from friends and acquaintances. I could tell the surprised look from their faces even before they pulled me aside to tell me I was looking good. Not to flatter myself, but I could tell an honest compliment from a fake one. And though this may sound like a “selfie” in written form, I ask that you suspend your judgment of me until you get to the end of this article for it conveys a deeper message. It stems from a newfound understanding of life, the kind I’m just now beginning to really know.
At my age, you’d probably ask, what took me so long? I know. But what else can I say? I’m a late bloomer. Had I not told you that once before? And yes, even at this late age, as funny or embarrassing as it might sound I’m “still blooming.” Mainly spiritually, that is.
I’ll let you in on a little secret but again, please don’t rush into judgment. I wouldn’t dream of putting anyone in bad light, let alone my husband. Just read along and laugh where you must but don’t get angry; indeed, there’s no reason to be. This was how I started paying attention to myself, following through my skin care regimen and making sure I’m pleased with how the woman staring back at me from the mirror looks before attending functions or even just going out on errands.
While getting ready for a party that Bart and I must go to, he blurted out without the slightest hint of hesitation, “Bakit ganyan ka na?’ ‘Hindi ka na maganda!” Short of saying I look ugly, a kinder translation in English would be, “What happened to you? You don’t look good anymore!” I was flabbergasted and was at a loss for words for a few minutes. But unlike before when I’d fight back an insult with another insult or tear up in self pity, I was remarkably calm and unbelievably forgiving. The bigger improvement though, was that I didn’t stop there. I did something about what he said to me in a very positive way, devoid of bitterness or repulsion. Quietly, I light-heartedly muttered, “I’ll show you who doesn’t look good.”
That afternoon, when Quincy’s Dad picked him up earlier than usual, I went out to get my haircut and dyed my hair when I got home. That night I washed my face with the special soap Sister Lydia gave me and then, applied Le Joven super age defying oil, serum and night cream, all of which had been sitting in my bathroom closet for a while. I did these simple steps religiously for 3 weeks and the result proved highly encouraging.
However, there’s more to this story than a simple physical transformation or makeover. There’s the story of a greater success, that is, the triumph of the principle of the tree of life over the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Bart’s truthful but hurtful remarks about me didn’t irritate or set me off anymore and neither did some of his habits and ways that used to either try my patience or chew up my confidence. Rather than operate on my right to get mad over his insensitive ways, I was challenged to improve myself, view his personality from a different perspective and find an acceptable common ground and having succeeded at it, reaped the rewards of positive thinking and experience. I tell you straight from the heart, it is quite liberating!
Yet, I have only tasted a sliver of the freedom this LIFE program promises to deliver. Henry’s passion for the program which he learned from The Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama is justified by the confidence and conviction he exudes each time he talks about it. For me, his remarkable transformation from a person in bondage to a free man says a lo t about this teaching.
It’s really worth a shot. What have you got to lose but your time? In the end, it won’t be time lost but time gained and much, much more. I dare you to believe me but more than this, to try the program.