The Purity Pills

Image by rakratchada torsap via freedigitalphotos.net

Image by rakratchada torsap via freedigitalphotos.net

Halfway City used to be a great and awesome underground city. It was the most beautiful among the cities of refuge on this side of the world. It offered the best air technology that provided the cleanest air for free. It was also a very green dwelling place. Green because it was literally filled with plants and trees; and because it succeeded in using renewable energy and reusable resources. It was well-managed too. The government had great leaders and they took their mandate to take care of the citizens seriously. The people of Halfway City were probably the happiest in the blighted world of 2112. No one on earth was as happy as the people of Halfway City after the 2100 nuclear holocaust.

But that’s not true anymore.

Halfway City is now but a whisper of its former self. The predominant color is no longer lush greens but gray and brown. Its air-tech, that used to be the best, is now dilapidated and unmaintained. The smells of humanity are offensive. Airborne diseases have spread uncontrollably, TB being the most common. Old gas masks are now a common thing. The city is now a depressing, humid and suffocating place to live in.

This is where the brothers, Horencio and Mauricio, have lived for 30 years. Horencio was a sergeant in the police force and Mauricio was the city treasurer. They lived together in their house in floor 49. Just like all housing units, it was designed like a giant cement nodule sticking on the walls of the underground tunnel. There was a dimly-lit little porch outside their door just like everyone else. And from there, a ladder led to the main floor where the establishments were. They were looking down at random people as they had a few cold beers on their porch. This has become a tradition of theirs every Saturday night.

Mauricio, the older of the two, was reminiscing about the old days again.

“I miss the old days,” he said. “When one could smell clean, crisp air – not this fecal smell we smell every day. I remember it took a long time before we got used to this air – “

“6 months.”

“- 6 friggin’ months. Good god, was it that long?”

Horencio nodded.

“They said they’ve finally fixed it and the smells have gone away – “ Mauricio added. Horencio was shaking his head in protest. “But the truth is that they just threw away some muddy filters. And we all just got used to what’s left of the smells…”

Both men took a swig of their beers. Mauricio put a few nuts into his mouth before continuing.

“You know me. I don’t like to complain. But this government has failed us all. All you have to do to realize that is too look around and take a sniff of the air. If Mayor Gomez is as good as he says he is, where are the trees, shrubs and flowers that once grew on every floor? Where is the freely flowing clean water? Now we have to pay for clean water. And where are the beautiful lakes and falls we once had in the bottom floors 100 and 150?” Mauricio paused for another drink.
“Remind me again, why is Gomez and his idiotic friends in power?” he asked.

“Money.” Horencio said, being consistent with his quiet nature.

“No, no ,no. It’s the people’s fault. It’s not that Gomez had a lot of money. It’s because Halfway City wanted all the money it could get. It’s greed that got us here, brother. And it’s greed that will keep us here.”

There were a few moments of silence as Mauricio reached for two more bottles in their cooler. He opened both and gave one to Horencio.

“From being the best underground city, we’re now second from the bottom,” Mauricio said as he settled on his seat with beer in hand. “It’s times like this that I wonder why I’m still working for that prick. I mean I’m glad he didn’t sack us when he came into power. But it’s obvious now. In this little town, he can’t choose all the people he wants to have. We still have our jobs because Gomez and his people knows that were irreplaceable.”

Horencio grunted in approval.

“I understand why Jesse Magno had to leave. I mean, checking what’s going on in the surface is important, of course. But why hasn’t he sent us a letter all these years? A letter could’ve stopped the people from holding elections. If he’s still around, we wouldn’t be living in this poisoned air.”

“It’s been two decades. Maybe he’s dead.” Horencio said as he went inside.

“Well, if that’s true, this city has lost its only hope. That boy knew how to run things. It was as if he was made for this situation. He was an angel sent to us. I wish he didn’t have to leave.” Mauricio drank most of his beer this time.

Horencio came out with a bottle of Purity Pills. He shook two pills out and gave one to his brother.

“I’m done with that Ensyong.” Mauricio looked away as if the pills could hurt his eyes.

“You have to take it,” Horencio insisted, “they say it’s for the poisoned air. You want to get sick like the others? You don’t want to get out of here?”

“You and I know that that pill’s a fake,” Mauricio looked his brother in the eye, “That’s probably just a sugar-coated anti-depressant. All the antibiotics and vaccines were destroyed in the nuclear war.”

Horencio squatted to meet Mauricio at eye level, “Do you want to take the risk? What if they’re telling the truth? Maybe they’re research has paid off…”

“I highly doubt that…”

Horencio forced the pill on Marucio’s palm and said, “Your choice.”

Maurcio lingered in the porch as Horencio went inside to sleep. He stared at the pill for a while. Halfway City has been fooled into thinking that this little yelow pill could save them. The people consumed hundreds of the Purity Pill daily. The government claimed that when the time came for humans to resurface, only the purest would be allowed out. The huge steel gates will only open to the healthiest humans. And taking as many Purity Pills a day will guarantee one’s passage through the formidable gates in the future.

They’ve been consuming these for decades. Small as it may be, every citizen here is enslaved to this tiny pill. This was the only hope the city had for a better future.

Mauricio sighed and tossed the pill into his mouth and chased it with the rest of his beer. Desperation turns even the smartest man into prey.

He was woken by Horencio at dawn.

His brother was in full uniform and talking to his radio. The voices from the radio were stressed. Something was wrong. It took a while for Mauricio to realize that he fell asleep in the porch. He dreamt that he was a fighter losing to a formidable opponent. It was actually Horencio kicking his feet until he woke up. Seeing that the lights were still dimmed, he reclined again.

“What?” Mauricio groaned.

“Wake up.”

“Why?”

“You’re gonna want to come.” Horencio said.

Mauricio rolled onto his side and willed himself to sleep. It must not be 3am.

“Suit yourself. The gates are unlocking. I just thought you might want to come,” Horencio said as he climbed down the ladder.

Mauricio’s eyes snapped open. His sleepiness was suddenly gone.

“The gates?! You- you said they’re opening?!” He screamed excitedly as he hurriedly stood up and scrambled for the ladder. He grabbed his gas mask on his way down.

“Be quiet.” Horencio scolded him. “And be careful on your way down. All of the forces will be at the gates and if you fall down, help won’t come until things are cleared.”

Horencio kept walking as he heard the clanging of the metal ladder behind him. When Mauricio reached the bottom of the ladder, he scampered to his brother’s side. He then saw other police officers going the same way as they. Then he saw the level chairman with his officers. They didn’t even notice that Mauricio was there.

“I don’t think you’re cleared for this, so don’t do anything that would draw attention.”

Mauricio nodded.

Everyone boarded the huge elevators. There were 10 on this side of their floor and they fit on just 3. Someone pressed a button and they felt the lift respond with a nudge. They were on their way to level 2: the level where the city gates were.

Mauricio felt a tingling along his spine. His excitement was uncontrollable. And he saw that everyone felt the same too. Except for the gate keepers, no one has been near the gates for a long, long time.

The trip seemingly took a long time when it has only been a minute in the elevators. No one talked.

“This is taking forever,” someone finally said. Mauricio saw that it was their level chairman talking to his aides, “You might as well brief me now.”

“An hour ago the gates’ gears began moving. It hasn’t stopped since. It’s like it’s going through an unlocking phase…” a man Mauricio recognized as Major Manida reported.

“Who’s there now?” the chairman asked.

“Everyone is going up there, I would assume. Every floor was told.”

“When was the last time this happened?”

“The opening of the gates? The last time it opened was 20 years ago when Mayor Jesse Magno left against everyone’s wishes. He’s been missing since,” One of the chairman’s aides answered, “But it has never been opened from the outside.”

“What could it be?” the chairman pondered.

Mauricio too was clueless. The tunnels were interconnected by underground networks. But none of the networks reached to the surface. No one knew how the tunnels and its gates to the surface worked exactly. Did the gates automatically activate when the outside world cleared up? Everyone left on the surface died during the nuclear war. So could it be an alien machine opening the gates? Or has the other underground colonies found out that everything was clear and finally searched for us? Is it Magno finally returning? What took him 2 decades to return?

The elevator halted with a clang and they spilled out into a brightly lit room. The leaders quickly grouped together with Mayor Gomez. The police men and soldiers grouped together with their officers. Mauricio didn’t seem to belong anywhere at the moment and didn’t know where to put himself. He found himself grouped with the reporters after a while.

In front of them all were the enormous steel gates. It was big enough to fit a five-story building in it. Attached to the gates were gears and rods of varying sizes. And they kept on moving, making clanging and grating sounds as they move and snap into place from time to time. He heard a lot of chatter as they waited for the gate to open.

“This is the biggest story of the decade!”

“Could this be a political gimmick?”
“You know, if what comes through that gate is hostile, this is our last day on earth.”

That last comment turned Mauricio pale. It didn’t occur to him until now that he could be in potential danger. He involuntarily glanced at the elevators in his nervousness and started walking towards them.

Then there was a very loud metallic creak.

“The gates are finally opening! Gas masks on! Everyone suit up!” someone shouted.

Mauricio realized with dismay that he was among those who came without a radioactive suit. He searched for Horencio with a panic. He would know what to do. He hurriedly put his gas mask on and then resumed his search.

He finally saw his brother across from where he was. He was also looking at Mauricio. But he was not panicking like the others. He didn’t even bother to put on his mask. It bothered Mauricio that his brother even had a peaceful smile on his face.

He knows something, Mauricio thought.

The doors slammed against the concrete walls. In the middle of the entrance was a silhouette of a man. He was walking towards them casually. Mauricio didn’t expect their government’s response.

“Don’t come any closer! Stop in the name of the people of Halfway! I am Mayor Gomez. Identify yourself!” came the voice of the stout official through a megaphone.

The man just kept on approaching. The army pointed their guns at him at the mayor’s command.

“Stop or we will shoot!” The mayor had his hands up, threatening to give the signal to fire.

“Is this how you welcome back a son of Halway?” The man said.

This paralyzed everyone. They all wondered who it was. Why would he say that?

“It’s Jesse Magno! He’s back!” someone yelled.

A great chatter erupted in the pass. Then there was jubilation. Then came an applause as Jesse came near enough to see. Jesse’s appearance changed little if any at all. He seemed larger than before. The crowd pressed to the front. He shook the hands of the mayor and of the others nearby. Only the officials weren’t happy. Seeing that Jesse wasn’t wearing any gear, Mauricio took off his mask like the others. There was a breeze from the outside and everyone was elated to know that it smelled clean.

“Why have you returned Jesse?” Gomez asked. The jubilation died right away. Jesse’s eyebrows furrowed.

“I see. You’re not happy to see me,” Jesse looked around. “Perhaps, I have disturbed your happy existence here?”

“Make your business clear, and leave.” Gomez stated coldly.

Jesse shrugged and faced the crowd, turning his back on the mayor. The mayor was furious.

“Citizens of Halfway, I have returned as promised. When I left two decades ago, I thought it was the end of me. The air choked me. I thought it was the radiation, but I later realized that it was my lungs that were polluted. The air was pure, and my lungs were not accustomed to it. It took a while before my body accepted the pure air. However, the surface was desolate. For a long, long time, I saw no other human being. I was happy because the earth had been restored with its air, plants and waters. But I saw that there was a need to create a place for us. I was hoping to have a sustainable place for humans to live in, this time around.”

“And who are you to decide that for us? You should have told us right away. You have left us here to rot for decades,” Gomez interrupted. Jesse ignored him.

“I tested everything. I created a home and then a farm. After a while, I found more brave, wandering humans from other underground cities. I welcomed them to my home. It was such a blessing that our little group had the same hopes for humanity. Together, we agreed to create more habitats and test everything out in a larger scale. Now, we have families in these new habitats. We ate and drank what the earth gave us for 20 years. We found that it is now safe to live outside the surface once again. We and our children are well. Earth is no longer how it was. And we have created houses, mansions of many rooms for everyone. And today, we returned to the place where we came from to spread the news. And that is why I am here, today. It is time to surface!”

“Well, why didn’t you say so?” It was Gomez’s Chief of Staff. “You should’ve cut the blabber and told us. You’re too fond of delays.” He and Gomez’s group sneered.

“Everybody out, now!” Gomez ordered everyone.

“You can’t do that,” Jesse said.

“Watch us.”

Gomez and his army walked towards the exit. It didn’t take long before they broke into a jog. They were excited to see the surface.

Mauricio and the others stayed behind, waiting for Jesse’s permission despite their envy for those heading out. Jesse was simply smiling peacefully and calmly tapping his feet.

The shouts of joy by the men rushing out were abruptly silenced. Soon, they were jogging back into the pass. Mauricio saw that they were fleeing from something. Then the light from the outside darkened. An army of large humans in armor, shield and swords approached. Their size caused all to step backwards in fear. These giants look like they can tear people apart by hand.

The mayor panicked when they were about to be cornered. “Open fire!” he shrieked.

That was when Jesse calmly raised his hand. He was holding a device of some sort. He depressed a button on it and then all guns in the room erupted in fire and smoke. Those who had the weapons threw them down to avoid getting burned. Gomez looked small and frail now that he’s been disarmed.

“Now,” Jesse continued. ”As I was saying, it is time to surface – but in an orderly way. Earth was scorched in the past by an impatient, arrogant, incompetent civilization. As we begin again, we will cut-off wickedness and ignorance from the beginning.”

Jesse saw that everyone was still staring at the army of giants in front of them.

“Oh! I forgot,” Jesse said cooly, “these are the new children of the earth. They may be larger in size than you’re used to. But that is what the earth offers humans now. Because everything was miraculously reset, all the food and water and air is able to once again nurture us maximally. Thus, what you’re seeing here now. The effects are best seen on those born on the surface. Not only are they stronger, they are way smarter than us. We made sure that they got the education of the ancients. They built on that knowledge and surprised everyone with new sciences and technology – such as this Gunpowder Deactivator,” Jesse dangled the gadget in his hand. “This can cause any weapon, with primitive gun powder or the like, to set fire for a short period with little damage. It’s effective for 1000 kilometers. So don’t bother to call for reinforcements, mayor. All your weapons are useless now. And don’t attempt to reach those elevators either. These guys can beat you there in no time.”

The mayor went pale and didn’t know what to say.

“The only people allowed on the surface are the purest,” said Jesse.

At this, Mauricio’s hopes were extinguished. He hasn’t been very religious with his Purity Pills. The others, including the mayor and his goons, were elated.

He didn’t know what came over him, but Mauricio found himself asking, “What will become of us?”

“Sorry?” Jesse asked, looking for the person asking.

“Sir,” Mauricio stepped forward, “what will happen to men like me?”

“What’s wrong with you?” Jesse asked.

“Well…” Mauricio sighed, “I haven’t been taking my Purity Pills regularly. If you scan me, I’m sure, you’ll see that my blood is one of the most infected. I understand why you’re concerned about quarantining the sick. The earth must be filled with very healthy people like these kids now… But what would happen to me, sir?”

“Ah, the Purity Pills. That’s a hoax, really. It doesn’t really contain anything but sugar and anti-depressant.”

“That’s not true!” the mayor objected. “How would you know?!”

“Mr. Gomez,” Jesse looked at him calmly, “I know. I have spies within your ranks. I have eyes everywhere in the city.”

“Liar!”

Jesse sniggered. “All those working for me, please step forward and come to me.”

Everyone was astonished to see that Jesse indeed had many spies in this group. And Mauricio was even more stunned to see his brother to be among them. Horacio smiled at him from the front. He’s been playing Mauricio this whole time. But Mauricio didn’t feel anger, He felt a great sense of pride for his brother instead. He let out a short laugh and jokingly waved a fist at his brother. Horacio laughed as well.

“So… No one’s qualified to go up there?” someone asked.

“About the standards I mentioned a while ago, I wasn’t referring to physical purity. I was referring to character and attitude.” Jesse explained.

“But that’s absurd!” the mayor exclaimed. “You can’t screen us like job interviewees! How can you possibly know everything about us?!”

“You’re a bit slow for a mayor,” Jesse said. “In case you hadn’t noticed, I have reliable people who know everyone in this underground city. My spies know everyone from every walk of life and their tendencies. They were handpicked for the job.”

The mayor was wordless again.

“Your spiritual purity will be the basis to resurface. If you’ve been paying attention, you should know that the new children of the earth are smarter than we ever wished to be in the past. They have found the cure to every disease that ever plagued the earth. The hope of the people of Halfway City is here.”

“So let us all out!” the chief of staff yelled.

“We need to make sure that we don’t go back to what we were before. What we have now out there is very special. We might not have this chance for a better human race again. We have to make the right decisions, now.”

Jesse’s face turned serious. He was now like a powerful king about to give an order. “Now, let the rescue begin. We have created a database of the purest citizens in close coordination with our spies. Anyone found in this database will be waken and brought out now. Our soldiers will get in and get them out. Anyone not in the database will remain here.”

The soldiers moved towards the elevators. Everyone scuttled to get out of the way.

“You can’t do this! I am the mayor! You have no power here! We will resist you! This is war!” he protested with panic.

“You still don’t get it, do you?” Jesse said gravely. “We’re not here asking for your permission. We’re here to get our people out. After that, you can deal with whoever that’s left.”

Mauricio broke down in tears when his brother approached him.

“It’s time to go home, brother. Today is the day,” Horencio said.

“I guess we won’t need those pills after all, huh?” Mauricio asked as they approached the sunlight, arms intertwined.

“You were right. They were no cure at all.”

A blast of warm, fresh breeze hit them. Their lungs resisted, at first, the new atmosphere. But it quickly welcomed what it knows is pure air. The brothers gasped when they saw the world outside.

They were, at last, seeing the new earth.

The Leper

In the Kingdom of the Sun, there lived a king so powerful that no man can match. He had more than enough power to destroy the whole world and create another again just to please himself. Not only was he powerful, he also possessed immense wisdom that no man can equal. No one could play mind tricks around him for he was always a hundred steps ahead of any wise man. It is this wisdom that allowed the Kingdom of the Sun to become the wealthiest and most powerful place in the world.

And there’s another trait of this king that sets him apart from the other minor ones: he was in equal amounts good and pure as he is powerful and wise. Not only was he full of strength, he was also overflowing with love for the people of the Sun. And the people of the shining kingdom loved him back selflessly. They loved him so much that the people considered it a great honor for any man who would be able to put a smile on the king’s face. Making the king happy became a way of life for the kingdom. Annually, they would hold a spectacular feast and they called it, the Day of the King. That day of the year was spent only for one purpose: to see the most glorious creations the kingdom has made for the king.

Every man spent his every day seeking ways to honor the king. And the king, being perfect and all-wise, was quite difficult to please. Many spent their whole lives creating wonderful things that they thought would make the king break out in joyful tears, only to get a simple nod of approval from him. The Day of the King broke many men and women, and yet they would not give up and would keep trying again.

Seeing the dedication of his people, the king made a prize for the person with the best creation. It was a trophy made of all the jewels of the world encased in gold and silver. It was so beautiful that the whole kingdom wept when it was revealed. The king called it, The Glory of the World. And it became the yearly obsession of, not just the Kingdom of the Sun, but the whole world.

Every year, a man or woman won The Glory of the World on the Day of the King. The victors grew in number and they were called the Champions of the King. One champion created a new source of energy. One made water from nothing. One made a gadget that destroyed all lethal weapons. One unlocked the ability to fly. Another made a medicine that healed a person regardless of the disease. Such were the quality of the Champions of the King.

The hundredth Day of the King came. The whole world was feverish and was anxious for the 100th Champion of the King to be chosen. The finalists were on every lip in the world. There were new comers to the competition. And there were also old Champions who joined once again for the hope of winning the coveted title. The excitement was something that the world has never experienced before. The Glory of the World waited for the 100th Champion of the King.

The moment that the finalists were waiting for finally came. It was time to reveal the most splendid work of man in a hundred years. The Castle of the Sun was beautifully decorated. And so was the King. There were entertainers and magicians present. All important people of the world were there. Everyone was well prepared for the glamorous day. Everyone was beautiful and elegant.

The competition began. One finalist revealed the first ever invisible cloak – capable of making the wearer completely disappear at will. One showed his incredible nanites – capable of building anything from just the air in only a few minutes. One demonstrated his airborne chemical that can clean up polluted air and leave only the freshest breeze. The fourth presented to the king a drug that can regrow any amputated limb or organ. The fifth demonstrated a liquid that can turn any kind of garbage into fragrant, harmless perfumes. The sixth created a machine that can teleport anyone to the other side of the world. The seventh showed his ability to control the hotness of the sun. The eighth revealed a machine that can accurately predict and stop earthquakes and storms. The ninth demonstrated his device that can move planets, comets and asteroids. And the tenth showed that he can travel up to five days into to the future and then back again.

Every finalist earned awe and applause from the audience. The castle – no, the kingdom – was filled with celebration. For the Day of the King always turned out something that made human life better. And this year, the greatest so far were revealed.

The time came for the King to announce the winner. There was a sudden silence in the room. The king spoke rarely. But when he does, it felt like everyone’s insides shook. The ten finalists knelt before him on one knee – each one trembling in excitement. The Glory of Man stood nearby in its splendor. The king raised his arms as he always did before he made a proclamation. He was about to speak when someone shouted from the crowd.

“My king! My Lord! Please! Let me come to you!”

The crowd expressed indignation in chorus.

The king’s captain of the guards drew his sword and ordered his men, “Arrest whoever that man is! How dare he interrupt the king!”

But the king halted his men, “That is not my desire,” he said. His voice was like thunder. By instinct, people took one step back – even the captain. “Who speaks? Come.”

Everyone looked around – not wanting to be even mistaken for the interrupter.

Then a man covered with a hooded cloak came out from the crowd and presented himself. His cloak used to be white, but was now covered in dirt. He had a stink around him that made the people cringe. The crowd, the finalists, the champions and the soldiers shouted their disapproval.

“How dare you!”

“The king doesn’t deserve this!”

“Get him of here!”

The cloaked man began turning away. The crowd was more than eager to make a path for him.

“Wait.” The king said to everyone’s surprise. “You said you wanted to come to me. So come, that I may see you.”

The captain stepped forward, “My lord, whoever this is, he is not one of us. There are no beggars in your kingdom, my lord. And certainly none here stinks as bad as this.”

The people laughed. The hooded man was trembling now.

“Show yourself.” The king ordered him.

A croak came from the man covered in rags, “No, my lord! I only meant that you would let me see your face. I only wanted to give you my creation. I don’t even want to come too close…”

“He’s not even a finalist my king! We have a process to follow!” One of the ten finalists exclaimed. The other nine nodded in agreement. The champions shouted their support. But the king silenced them with his hand.

“Come closer. Show me this creation.” The king commanded. The crowd looked at each other, wondering if the king was ill.

The beggar came one step closer and no more. He moved as if he was on the edge of a very deep cliff. He raised his creation a little bit for the king to see, ashamed. It was only a humble basket of fruits. Those who saw sneered at first. And then there were murmurs all around. After a few moments, the castle was full of laughter. The beggar began to walk away.

“That’s the creation you’re going to give to the wealthiest king in the world?!” one of the champions said. His laughter created a shower of spittle. Another round of laughter filled the halls as the beggar took another step towards the door.

“I don’t recall giving you my leave,” the king said.

The beggar stopped. “My lord, I can see that this was a huge mistake. It won’t happen again. I will just leave my basket with your soldiers on the way out.”

“And what makes you think us soldiers will even touch that… filthy thing?” the captain remarked. “My king, let us get rid of this filth. You deserve only the best…”

“What fruits are those?” the king asked the beggar, ignoring the captain who now had wrinkles on his forehead.

The beggar turned to face the king. He answered with delight in his voice, “It came from my small farm, lord. In – in the Kingdom of Crows. I have been striving for many years to come up with my best. This, I think, is the best I could come up with…”

“The Kingdom of Crows…” the king repeated. The people buzzed once again with disapproval. The beggar looked around, not knowing what was going on.

“He does not know!” another champion mocked. “You don’t understand do you?”

The beggar, his face still hidden in the darkness of his hooded cloak, shook his head.

“Well, allow me to enlighten you,” one of the finalists explained, “not only is your creation unfit for our king, beggar… The kingdom, from which you and your fruits come from, is known only for three things – murderers, thieves and prostitutes. Nothing good has come out of your home – ever.”

“Get him out of here! Make sure that he never comes back!” The captain growled, stabbing the air with his sword as he spoke.

The guards grabbed the beggar. His basket fell as they dragged him out and his fruits spilled and rolled away. As he struggled against the guards, his cloak was pulled off of him. The crowd shouted and jumped as far away from the beggar and his fruits as they can. The soldiers threw away his cloak as if it was on fire.

“Leper! Leper! Oh ,dear god, a leper in the halls of the king!”

The panic of the crowd heightened. The leper tried to cover himself but could not find his robe. He struggled to pick up his fruits and carefully placed them in the basket he made.

I will leave it by the gate for my lord, he thought.

As he was reaching for the last apple, someone picked it up. The crowd screamed in horror. When the leper looked up to see who it was, he screamed as well and covered his eyes and as much of his skin as he could.

It was the king. And he was handing the apple to the leper.

Everyone, including the leper, screamed the same thing, “No! No! No, my lord! Get away! Don’t come any closer!”

But the king cupped the leper’s disfigured hands and gave him the apple. He embraced the beggar, unashamedly running his fingers through the bleeding cracks of skin on the leper’s back. The crowd held back their breath. The leper held back his tears. No one has ever touched the king.

The king found his robe and covered the beggar up.

“Let me finish this ceremony. Wait for me here,” He whispered to the leper.

No one seemed to exhale as the king walked back to his throne. He resumed his position before he was interrupted, and so did everyone present, although they were confused and cautious. The finalists knelt down once again before the king. The crowd settled down and stayed well away from the leper who was now in tears. The music resumed and filled the halls like nothing happened. Everyone was excited and warmed up once again. The crowd gave a round of applause as the king raised his hands.

“I proclaim the winner of this year’s Day of the King and the one who will take home the 100th Glory of Man: the tenth finalist – the time traveler.”

The crowd went wild. The king took the Glory of Man and awarded it to the 100th Champion of the King. The champions, the finalists, the important people present – crowded around the time traveler to give him pats on the back. There was jubilation and merrymaking. The music was playful. The leper stayed where he was and stared in amazement at the celebration.

The time traveler slowly approached the leper and showed him his Glory of Man and said to him, “You really thought you could win this with your basket of fruits?”

The leper shook his head, “No, no, no. I only wanted to offer my best to the king.”

The people nearby sneered, “Leave now leper. You’re not welcome here.”

“B-but the king – he told me to wait…” they were about to kick him out of the castle, hidden by the crowds, when the music died suddenly.

It was the king. His hands were up again and was about to make another proclamation.

The time traveler smiled brightly, “He’s going to call for me! I knew it. The 100th champion gets to be the first person to spend time with the king!” Another round of pats landed on his back.

“I have given you what you want. Now, please, everybody out.” The king said.

No one moved or made a sound. Everyone was stunned. This has never happened before and no one expected it. Everyone looked at the person next to him looking for answers.

It was the 100th champion who broke the silence, “Why my lord? This is your day. Don’t you want to spend time with us, your best citizens? We who sacrificed so much for you?”

“You are all great, no doubt about it. And I thank you for your service,” the king replied. “But I seek something that I have been looking for for so long…”

The king looked onto the leper and waved for him to come. The leper came running and was met by the king’s embrace.

“I seek someone who has a heart similar to mine…” the king said as he embraced the leper as if they’ve been friends for so long.

Then the king said once again to the others, “Now, please, resume your merrymaking outside. Take your glory and your trophy and your pride – and leave me with my kindred…”

Handed Over: The Christian’s Only Fear

The Scream, a painting by Edvard Munch via Wikipedia

The Scream, a painting by Edvard Munch via Wikipedia

There are few things that a Christian truly fears. I don’t mean here that believers are emotionless. Sure we get startled in an explosion. Or get anxious about some things beyond our control. Or get scared of heights or spiders. We do have our phobias still. We’re human after all.

The fear that I mean here is that state of being continually fearful. That fear that is the blackest of blacks. That fear that consumes you day and night and makes you give up on life. The fear that has no hope of rescue – that’s the fear that I mean, the fear that a Christian doesn’t have.

How can we have that kind of fear in our hearts if we are children of an Almighty God? How can we continually be afraid of anything if we have a Mighty Father beside us, 24/7?

No believer continued to be afraid when the recession hit in 2008 because we knew then that our Provider never left our side. No Christian was desperate as Supertyphoon Yolanda hit in 2013 for we knew then that He is always in control. How could we be afraid today of what will happen to our kids in the future if we know that God loves our kids more than we ever could?

We just can’t be afraid.

Sometimes we get derailed, we stumble a little bit, but we always find our balance. Sometimes we fall, but our hope never runs out. We always rise again for our Lord who gave everything up for us in love.

But there’s a fear that a believer does have. A fear that separates the genuine from the fake. For this fear only grips those who truly love God and desire Him deeply.

This fear is the Christian’s fear of being handed over to his or her unholy desires.

This is the fear of being allowed by God Himself to what you think is nice after He kept you away from it for so long. This is that event in a believer’s life when our conscience stops working and we go through a downward spiral of sin. That terrible time when God lets you go and stops interfering. You think that God is OK with it regardless of what’s in His Word, when in truth, He’s already miles away from you.

Picture a cat surrounded by a gang of pit bulls – pit bulls that haven’t eaten for days. The cat’s owner did all he could to keep him away from them, but the cat is stupid. He thinks that the pit bulls are friends and all that barking means they like him. No matter how sophisticated the cage is, the cat always finds a way to get out and rush to the other side. The owner always caught him in the nick of time. But then the cat is relentless. He wants what he thinks is the best for him. And he sees the owner not as a protector, but a dictator and oppressor. So what does the cat do? The next time his owner catches him, he claws and bites. The owner realizes that the cat’s problem is his desire, entrenched deep in his heart; reason will not work at all. So he sadly lets his cat go, and waits. What does the owner wait for? The cat’s own realization that he was wrong all along and his master is right. The cat’s own willingness – his panic – to get back to his master’s arms.The owner doesn’t want it, but the cat won’t listen to reason and will rather experience the pain and separation.

This is what happens to a Christian who will not stop on doing what he knows is wrong. This is what happens when the believer ignores the Holy Spirit and refuse to repent. God doesn’t want it because He knows it will hurt the believer, but the believer keeps wandering away and sees God as his oppressor. So God lets go. With great sorrow, He stands back as His child is devoured by sin.

This “handing over” is found in Scripture. The ESV and KJV Bible calls it “give up”. The HCSB Bible calls it “deliver over”. The NIV Bible calls it “give over”.

Let’s use the ESV for this article…

“So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.” Psalms 81:12

“For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions…” Romans 1:26.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done…” Romans 1:28

Ephesians 4:19 is quite special because it shows the sinning Christian’s personal choice to give himself or herself over to depravity: ‘Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality…”

To illustrate this more, think of David and his adultery. After that, think of Solomon, his concubines and idolatry. Think of what happened next when God have them over to their desires.

This also brings to mind the BTK killer, Dennis Lynn Rader, of Wichita, Kansas who killed and tortured 10 people between 1974 to 1991. He was arrested in 2005. During the time of his arrest, he was president of the congregation council of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita. Before his arrest, he wrote letters to police and media about his previous crimes. These letters were not letters of remorse but of boasting and taunting. Hiding behind an alias, he told the world of his desire to defile and murder women and children. It was discovered later that some of the letters he made were written in the church using the church desktop computer. When he pleaded guilty, it was without remorse. Police say that there are many “lucky” people because Rader was on the verge of relapse when he was arrested. He is now in solitary confinement. (Source: Wikipedia)

I will not say that Rader was never a believer in the first place and will go to hell. I don’t know that. Only he and God does. But here’s what I’m sure of, while he was a part of that church, God reached out to him repeatedly. Many times God forgave him and urged him to surrender. Many times, God would fight for him and tell him to stop his evil desires so that he won’t go back to where he came from in 1991 when he killed his last victim. But somewhere along the way, God had to let go. Why did God give him that much time? Why didn’t God strike him with death and disability right away? That is not for us to know. Fact is, God reached out to Rader. Rader wanted out. God let him go.

Christian, are you in that crossroad right now where God tells you to stop? Is the Lord urging you in your spirit to come back to him?

Is it a little stealing from the company funds? Don’t wait for God to let you go and let it grow into a full blown corporate crime.

Is it just a little gambling? Your God is trying to hold you back from bankruptcy.

Is it a little porn? If God let’s go, you won’t just lose your family, you could be on your way to becoming a pedophile. Maybe your first victim would be your own daughter.

Is it just one night of liberty with your boyfriend? If God let’s go, you better be ready for single parenthood.

Is it just a little torture of a puppy? Why do you think we feel so horrified when we see that done on any small animal? That’s God telling us that it’s not right. Dennis Rader started his serial killing with animal torture.

If God holds us back, it’s only because He wants us to get back to safety. Let’s love that about our Father. It’s an indicator that He’s there and that He cares.

It is with these same thoughts that David wrote, “..Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…” (Psalms 23: 4).

I would rather have His loving discipline than live a life of separation from my Father.

If your thoughts were broadcasted, what kind of channel would you be?

Image by Creative Commons

Image by Creative Commons

Its 10 in the evening and I’m flipping from one channel to the next. For the Nth time, I could not believe how I can’t find one channel that interests me even if I have around 80. Then I came across some channels that were all about basketball. I listened in for a while to a guy who could talk all about the sport non-stop.

I’m more of a UFC guy. I just enjoy watching the athleticism and courage. But I don’t go into it in-depth and I can live joyfully without it. I do watch the NBA at times when there’s a good match though. But I know lots of guys like this who seem to live and breathe basketball. Whether it be the NBA, FIBA or local games – they’re into it severely. Mastering, almost subconsciously, every detail about each team and player.

That’s how diverse we are and its amazing. There are those who are drawn naturally to sports, fashion, science, movies, news, etc. in different ways and during different seasons. And the numerous TV stations feed into this need to be entertained and so giving us the dozens of channels in our TV.

I wonder, if these channels somehow managed to broadcast your thoughts and mine — to what kind of category would the resulting show fall in? How many people would gravitate to your channel? How will lives be changed through watching the products of your mind?

As I think of this, I wish that I could get to a point that ALL things that ran through my mind are of the Lord’s. I’m wishing right now that if my thoughts were suddenly broadcast on Channel 23 and on the internet — live — people’s lives would be mended because they would see Jesus in it.

I wish that if everyone were to see and hear in real-time the things on my mind, my Redeemer would be magnified and glorified. And I hope that I would be that kind of man one day that pleases God, even in the secluded corridors of my mind.

What kind of channel would you like to be?

Not Everything That Hurts is Bad

Image by Morgue File

Image by Morgue File

I have a friend who lost a brother to an infection- a tooth infection. The minor tooth ache was ignored. Things got worse as time went by. When they finally went to the dentist, the infection has spread to the jaw bone and into the blood. One unfortunate event led to another and the man succumbed to infection and died.

I would like to state the obvious: this could have been prevented. The guy should have seen the dentist and went through the necessary procedures. Or better yet, he could’ve prevented the whole thing by having his teeth seen by the dentist at least annually.  He could be alive right now living out the purpose God has for him.

But that’s done. I hope he’s now happy in the presence of his Maker. What does this tell you and me though?

Not all that hurts is bad.

Pain not only tells us that our body is having a chemical imbalance (bad stimulus). It also tells us that something inside us is not right and needs fixing (good stimulus). And this applies physically, emotionally and spiritually.

What good stimulus could possibly cause us spiritual pain? God’s words in the Bible and the preaching of His servants causes a very painful spiritual stimulus.

In fact, the pain is so bad that most of those who are reading this will stop right about now because they’ve just realized that this is a Christian blog. Its so bad that upon seeing a preacher on TV or hearing one on the radio, most of us would immediately switch our units off without even bothering to check if he or she is the real thing. Yup, its that bad.

God’s words in the Bible is everlasting truth and they hurt without apology. They have life in them. They have the character and power of God in them. And His words retain their power regardless of who uses them: whether a genuine man of God or a false prophet. These words will hurt regardless of who carries them.

But why does it hurt that bad? The Lord’s words in the Bible hurt because it tells us that we are incomplete. It hurts because it confronts us with the fact that we are sick and we need Jesus to heal us. It hurts because it will convict us and persuade us to change the way we live.

And so we often choose to ignore the pain, look the other way and walk away as fast as we can. We don’t want to feel the pain. We don’t want to be bothered. We might even think that its better to just die than to face the cause of the pain.

But there are those who lean towards the pain. There are those who go through the discomfort just to find out what’s causing it. There are those who understand that, to get better, they have to let someone near the painful area to diagnose them. Someone whom they can trust. Someone who truly knows the way to eternal life. Someone who has been to heaven, earth and then back again. Someone who knew no sin and who broke no law. Someone who never condemns. Someone who is God and Man at the same time. Someone who gave everything up for them.

Christians live a hopeful, peaceful life because they made the decision once upon a time to meet the Great Physician.

So can you. Don’t wait for the infection to spread. Don’t let what you see and hear stop you. Have the courage to seek your Designer and Father at all cost. He is waiting for you in the Holy Bible and in your prayers.

Come near Him, and He will come near you.

The Power of Christ Over Karma

image

I often hear fellow Christians stating that they fear Karma. They even strive to be nice & good in order to get good Karma. Most think that, if you do good things, good things will come to you and vice versa.

And we Christians often accept this doctrine readily without thinking. Let’s brood over that for a while. Is a Christian bound by Karma? Can a follower of Christ control his future by his acts? Is Karma even a Christian doctrine?

Karma is found nowhere in the Bible and is not a Christian doctrine. It is a Buddhist and Hindi belief. It teaches that what you do comes back to you, good or bad.

We have to separate that from justice because they look alike. Karma teaches that you can control & manipulate your life with what you do. So if you make a mistake, it will stay with you like a debt that you gotta pay. When you do good, its like insurance that you can count on.

Justice is simply receiving what you deserve according to a set of rules or norms. Karma offers to empower you to manipulate your future, justice doesn’t. Justice only delivers the result of what you did. Its just cause & effect. When justice comes, you receive a reward or punishment. But the direction of your future is still yours to determine.

Christians are bound by God’s justice, not by Karma. As far as a believer’s future is concerned, it is a team up between him & God. Yes, God may give you a difficult judgement for you to learn your lessons, but your future is never lost. Once you realize your mistake and come clean with God, He will wipe your records clean.

The Christian is not bound by the laws of Karma. His or her future is no longer haunted by the past. The believer no longer fears the past, because of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.

Karma bows down before the cross of Jesus. It cannot stand before the grace of Christ.

Karma says to the Christian, “You will pay! I will hunt you to the end!”

But the Lord would answer, “No. You touch my guy and you’ll answer to Me. Whatever He did, I’ll pay for the consequences. This child has changed. Leave him alone.”

Its the same in the opposite end of the spectrum. If you think you deserve the best things in life because you’re such a perfect person, you’re setting yourself up for dissapointment. I mean, c’mon, haven’t you noticed that bad things happen to good people and great things happen to the bad?

In this case, Karma would say to you, “You’re such a great guy, you deserve only the very best…”

But Christ would answer, “It’s not that easy. I hold all good things and I say where they go. You may not agree with Me at times, but you have to trust Me. I have a grand plan. In the end, you will receive your good reward. Be patient.”

May God bless you with a full life my friend.