Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WOYWW: Great and Wonderful!

 WOYWW reminds me to take a look at my desk.
Know what I just noticed?
I still have those wilted roses!
Really! They should have been thrown out a long time ago!

 This was on my desk yesterday.
I won a giveaway from @theresetgirl (Instagram)
and I love all the turquoise!
I can't resist giveaways!

 "Great and wonderful are all Your works, Lord, God Almighty!" Revelations 15:3

Some people think that faith is like "positive thinking". You claim good over evil, prosperity over need, the fulfillment of all wishes and desires. But faith,true faith, glorifies God because you face the reality of your true condition. You face sickness and you proclaim, "Praise God even now!" An 'I can't do anything about this' situation taunts you and you shout out, "Great and wonderful are You O God, still!" You face your mother's imminent death after prayers of healing and deliverance, and countless visits to so many doctors, and you are able to say at her death bed, "You are soooo soooo good, Lord!"

Does faith come first or does praise? If your faith is weak, praise will give it strength. There is a story of a poor black pastor who grew up among slaves. Charles A. Tindley, was pastoring a small church when a blizzard struck his town. His baby had died and his family did not have anything to eat. In spite of all that, he praised God mightily!
"Set the table mama," he instructed his wife who knew there was nothing but stale bread to put on it. In a while a member of his congregation arrived, laden with groceries to the delight of the children!

 Reverend Charles Albert Tindley, later became known as the "Prince of Preachers", and founded one of the largest Methodist congregations serving the African-American community in Philadelphia. A grandson of his father's master was even converted by him. We can say that his gratefulness and thankfulness made his faith strong, stronger in adversity!

Lord, may my praise transform me! May my faith turn my challenges into blessings!

 "All that you see here-the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." Luke 21:6

Jesus was speaking of the second temple on Mount Zion. This temple, rebuilt from the devastation of the first temple of Solomon, was Herod's masterpiece. It was magnificent, and as described in Luke 21:5 "adorned with costly stones". King Herod even had several architects from Rome, Greece and Egypt to plan and supervise the construction. The blocks used were so massive they had to use multiple cranes, pulleys and levers to put them in place.
But in spite of its seeming permanence, it was destroyed by the Romans in the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, just as Jesus prophesied. Today, the Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, stands proudly in its place.

Our life, no matter how much we think of its importance, is as fragile as that temple. We build a nice life, comfortable, sanitized from the injustice and inequality around us, little realizing that all that we build, will one day come to nothing. Rust, earthquakes, storms, fire, termites, disease, sin and the ravages of sin, can easily destroy our families, our businesses, our homes, our cities, our countries, our world. But not if we purposely build on the foundation of God's Word and teaching.

As we come to the end of the liturgical year, I like to take a look at what I am building. Is there anything I am building that I can take with me to my real home?


Monday, November 24, 2014

The Best Gift

 Jesus said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest, for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood." Luke 21:3-4
Such a difficult passage to read. Does God want us to give ALL our money? How about saving for our retirement, taking care of our children's education, maintaining our house, our cars, food, clothing, Christmas gifts, travel...the list goes on and on. And then I think, as long as I offer it all to the Lord. I am just His steward, then I can "keep" everything. I just need to give the 10% tithes and a little more for alms, then I'll be OK. Is that all right Lord? How can I help others if I am in want myself?

I really, really want Your answer Lord!

 "My dear, life is about giving. An offering of yourself to Me and to others. Just as I did for you, so must you do to others. Give not only of your wealth, but your time, your talents, your resources, all you have. Share it. And I will multiply whatever you offer to Me. Such is My Kingdom. Unless the seed falls to the ground and dies, it cannot be used. It cannot multiply, grow, bloom. Trust. That is the key. It is what is needed. Entrust your future to me. Entrust your life to me. Test me."

 "Lord, when did we see you and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?" Matthew 25:37
"Who gives himself with alms feeds three- himself, his hungry neighbor and Me." (Lowell)
St. Martin of Tours was an 18 year old legionary when he met a beggar clad in rags at the city gate of Amiens. He decided to cut his great woolen cloak into two, and gave the half to the beggar. That night he dreamt that it was Christ wearing half of his cloak. St. Francis is famous for exchanging his rich clothes with beggars. And also kissing lepers who he used to find revolting. Once when he did kiss a leper's hands and face, he looked around after mounting his horse, and could not find the leper anywhere!
There are many 'kingdoms' here on earth. Politicians try to be kings. Some actors live their lives as if they are untouchable. Some people act as if they will live forever with no mind for tomorrow. But in the Kingdom where God is Master, we will be judged not according to what we have accumulated, how much power or popularity or influence we have, but how much we loved.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me." Matthew 25:35
Perhaps the best gift we can give the birthday celebrant this Christmas is to find him in jail, in the hospital, orphanage, old age homes, in the hovels under the bridges of the city. Let us not forget the birthday celebrant while we are giving gifts, and having parties and getting together for the season!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Paint Party: My Inheritance Forever!

A friend commissioned me to do a 
Filipino Nativity, and this is what I came up with.
I hope she likes it!!

 "Let the high praises of God be in their throats." Psalm 149:9
I have to confess that I don't praise God enough. I don't take the time to stand up and sing during my prayer time in the morning. I usually do that during prayer meetings, with brothers and sisters singing at a crescendo with the music ministry.
What I fail to realize every day is that if I do praise God I do it in unison with the largest and the best choir in the world (and out of the world!) We sing with the angels, and archangels, the saints, the hosts and powers of heaven. Indeed if we do not praise God, we do not really know Him, for to know God is to know He is worthy of praise, of immeasurable praise!

A preacher I was listening to on Youtube said that praises to God was like a huge, eternal Mexican wave (the rhythm achieved in a packed stadium when successive groups of spectators briefly stand, yell, and raise their arms). We need not initiate it, we just need to choose whether to join in. I like that, at any time anywhere that I choose to praise God, I would be part of this wonderful cloud of praise going up to heaven. One with Sandi Patti, Don Moen, Suzy Yaraei, Kim Walker, Nicole Nordeman, etc. The list goes on.... Isn't that exciting?

 "Your decrees are my inheritance forever, for they are the joy of my heart." Psalm 119:111
One thing I like doing is reading different versions of a bible verse to understand it more. For this verse, I prayed, "Thank you for your decrees, your testimonies, your unchanging word, your laws, your written instructions, your covenant laws, your rules, your written instructions, your book on living. This is my inheritance, my heritage, my possession, my treasure and gift forever. It is truly the joy and delight and exultation of my heart."

 When I think about how some people take the wrong path, make the wrong choices, compromise even if they say they want to obey God, I am so grateful for my parents who taught me how to pray, to obey the Lord, and read the Bible. If we want blessing for ourselves, for our children and children's children, it's not enough to attend mass and listen to the priest's homilies, or attend service and listen to preaching. We have to plant the seed of the Word of God in our heart ourselves.
Isaiah 40:8 says, "The grass withers and the flowers fade but the Word of our God stands forever."

"He is not God of the dead but of the living, for to Him all are alive." Luke 20:38

Do we really realize that 100% of us, with no exception are going to die? This body which we take so much care of, is decaying, even as we breathe.

St. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:8, "For bodily exercise and discipline is of some value, but Godliness and spiritual training is profitable, has value for all things in every way, for it holds promise for the present but also for the life to come."

I can't help comparing the time we spend for our bodies (dressing up, putting on make-up, eating, buying clothes and shoes, etc.) with the time we spend tending our spirits.Our body is not who we are. When we take care of our body, we are taking care of a temporary thing, a decaying thing. But when we take care of our spirits, we take care of the eternal.

 Jesus, as He was on the cross, called out, "Father, into Your hands, I commit my Spirit." To commit means to entrust for safekeeping. Jesus didn't say, "I commit my body", perhaps because He knew He would get a brand new one. It was so easy for His Father to recreate His mangled and bloody body, just as He will for us one day.

Do we spend more time taking care of our physical bodies than we do for our true selves, our spirits? Let's take stock of our priorities!!!

 Oreo at the office!
He likes to approve my sister Peggy's designs as she works!

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You are appreciated!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WOYWW: Time, Talent & Treasure

Here's my desk this morning.
I've got a bottle full of roses from a party I attended
with my husband last Monday.
I do so love fresh flowers, don't you?

"To everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, 
even what he has will be taken away." Luke 19:26

Before sleeping last night I prayed that the gospel today would give me guidance about what to do about some employees who have been doing things they shouldn't. Of course we would want to balance compassion with the discipline and consequences that are needed.

Today's parable in the 19th chapter of Luke is about a master who left a talent each to his 10 servants while he went off to claim a crown. A talent is no small sum of money. Each talent was about 20 years wages of an ordinary person. So for someone on minimum wage, that would have been more than two million eight hundred pesos. They were entrusted to not only take care of it but to make it grow. When he came back, one servant made the mistake of just keeping the huge amount of money in a handkerchief!

When one is given a job, we have to do our best and use our skills so that the company who hired us earns from our labor directly or indirectly. If we are a good employee, we will make sure our employer earns a lot from our efforts! The same is true with what God gives us. We don't own anything. What we have is God's investment in us. And one day there will be an accounting of what we have done with all that God entrusted to us-
our time, talent and treasure.

Sometimes in a business there is a dishonest employee. He steals money. Instead of the company earning from him, the company loses money :^((( In Jesus' story, the master reprimands one servant because he should have put the money in the bank instead of keeping it in a handkerchief, to earn interest. He takes the talent from him and gives it to the one who earned 10 times the talent! What would this demanding master have done if the servant absconded with the talent?

God rewards those who use their talents well. Those who are faithful with little will be entrusted with more. Those who neglect or squander what they have, or use it for evil and not good, will lose what they have. Perhaps it's time to take stock of our own talents and see if God is getting a good return on His investment in us.

 "Zaccheus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house," Luke 19:

I've read this story about Zacchaeus, the tax collector, so many times and each time I picture in my head a short, funny man, a cartoon like character, with no dignity.

But the other side of Zaccheus, I never thought about. After all, he was a real person just like Jesus is real, not a cartoon character. Zacchaeus was probably a smart man, intelligent, to get to be the CHIEF tax collector. And because he was shunned and despised, he was probably lonely. And perhaps he had dignity of another kind. He was very rich, extremely wealthy, and his clothes would have been of the finest cloth and tailoring. 

It must have taken a lot for him to climb a tree to see Jesus. He had to shed his pride. He became like a child again. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will NEVER enter the Kingdom of Heaven." 

Jesus saw Zacchaeus' heart. The eagerness, the longing to be accepted by Jesus, the willingness to give up the life he had. And so Jesus, looking up said, "I'm going to stay at your house today!" And Zacchaeus was like a little kid, unmindful of what he must have looked like, scrambling down the tree, eagerly, joyfully.

Jesus always sees that part of us, no matter how small, that longs to please Him. That part of our heart that desires to be united with the One who loves us best. And when He sees that, He invites us, "Today I want to stay at your house!" It doesn't matter what we've done before. If we clamber down from our indifference, our pride, our selfishness, in humility and determination, eagerly, joyfully, Jesus will come to stay in our heart!