Monday, September 15, 2014

A Mother's Heart

 "Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother... 
When Jesus saw His mother there 
and the disciple there whom He loved 
He said to His mother, 
"Woman, behold your son." 
Then He said to the disciple, 
"Behold, your mother." 
And from that hour the disciple 
took her into his home." John 19:25-27

 Can we imagine how Mary felt 
seeing her son on the cross? 
Even if there were so many times 
that she had to accept 
God's inconceivable will for her life, 
I don't think it can ever be enough 
to cushion her from this last agonizing pain! 
Perhaps she couldn't think anymore. 
She could only be aware of her heart 
breaking into a million pieces.

 Elizabeth Stone said, "Making the decision 
to have a child-it is momentous. 
It is to decide forever to have your heart 
walking around outside your body." 

 That must have been true of Mary 
more than of any other mother! 
From the moment she conceived, 
there was so much hinging on the way 
she would love this child, nurture Him, 
teach Him, protect Him, and then 
surrender Him to the world to do with as we pleased!

 "Behold, your mother." 
Before Jesus died, He made sure 
His mother would be cared for. 
I think He would also want us 
to honor her and love her. 
Just as there is a place in 
Jesus' heart for His mother, 
we should also find a place in our hearts 
to honor a woman who gave up her heart 
to lodge in her son's body, 
and allowed it to be trampled on 
so God's plan would be accomplished!

 "If you listen to my words and act on it, 
you will be like a man building a house, 
who dug deeply and laid foundation on rock..." 
Luke 6:43-49
When I was 12 years old, 
I clearly remember listening to the news 
about a 6-storey apartment building 
that collapsed after an Intensity 7 earthquake. 
The name will stick forever in my memory. Ruby Towers. 
More than 200 survived this tragedy 
but many more were not found even 
after a mammoth rescue effort 
involving more than 6000 volunteers. 
The Arellano High school in front of the site 
was like a morgue, 
with body parts strewn all over and the 
smell of dead bodies permeating the air.

 Many people were charged for this disaster, 
from city officials who approved and 
were supposed to inspect the plans and require 
tests to be done on the soil, 
to the architect and structural engineer 
who made a poor design, 
the owners who used substandard materials 
to save money and deviated from the approved design.
In Luke chapter 6, Jesus warns us 
that if we do not listen to Him, 
and act on His words, 
this is what will happen to our life! 
God has a wonderful plan and purpose for our life. 
If we deviate from that blueprint 
which takes into consideration our gifts and talents, 
our natural inclinations, 
our passions and interests, 
we will be a disaster waiting to happen. 
Our "house" will crumble.

 Whether we like it or not, 
we are all building a house. 
It is our decision whether to 
make it a hodgepodge of styles, 
choosing whom to follow, doing it our way, 
or always going to the Master Architect and consulting Him. 
Where will we get the materials to build our house? 
Do we go to the source of wisdom? 
Or will we choose to listen to an easier gospel, 
one that is more comfortable, 
one that does not require us 
to examine our life and change?
Let us build our house on the sure foundation!

 "We have sinned in complaining against the Lord..." 
Numbers 21:7
How hard should it be to cultivate an attitude of gratitude? 
We are soooo rich! 
Consider how much a blind man 
would pay to have even one eye? 
How much a paraplegic would give 
to be able to move around and not have 
others help him do what we take for granted every day? 
How much for a kidney, a heart, a leg or a hand? 
We are billionaires! 
If you can read this, 
you have access to a computer or a cellphone. 
842 million people in the world don't even have enough to eat!

A few years ago I had so many 
canker sores in my mouth for months at a time. 
I couldn't eat, I couldn't talk, I couldn't sing! 
But sometimes I would get respite and 
it felt so good to be able to sing songs 
during mass and in my community. 
Do we have to wait to lose things 
before we can praise God for what we have? 
There was a time I had difficulty walking. 
It turned out I had some 
compressed discs in my spine. 
So now I have resolved to praise God 
for the "ordinary, every day things" I can do. 
I can walk, I can talk, I can breathe, 
I can paint, I see colors, I can read...
So much to praise God for! COUNTLESS!!!
What other ordinary, everyday things 
should we be grateful for?

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Paint Party Friday: Captivated by Jesus!

For Paint Party Friday, this is what I chose 
from my stack of backgrounds.

 "When fully trained, 
every disciple will be like his teacher." 
Luke 6:40

Seems like such a serious, forbidding word. 
I think I shall focus on the word 
It is natural for us to look up to 
someone we admire, who inspires us, moves us.

 How amazing that Mother Teresa 
and her way of life moved 
so many ordinary women to live 
in poverty and care for the dying.   
St. Francis of Assisi, 
by following Jesus' footsteps 
as an itinerant preacher, 
founded several religious orders. 
These men and women who 
imitated him were captivated 
to help restore Jesus' original teachings 
to a rich, decadent Church.

 How about us? 
Are we captivated by Jesus, by His life, 
His words, His character, His love? 
Do we want to be like Him? 
In Matthew 11:29, He says to the crowd, 
"LEARN from me..."

We will only want to learn from Him 
if we see Him as He is 
and cast away our fear that 
we have to give up everything to follow Him. 

surely we can take steps every day 
to become more and more like Jesus! 
After all, He gave His life for us!!

 "Stop judging..." Luke 6:37 

God knows I find this very difficult to obey! 
I'm a person who has a tendency 
to look at other people's lives 
and thinks why in the world 
do they do the wrong thing repeatedly? 
They are just digging their own hole! 
At heart I am a busybody, 
though it pains me to admit it!!! 
When I see something that needs to be corrected, 
I will go and talk to the person, 
even if he is a priest or someone with standing. 
And then I go to confession and 
repent for being judgmental and self-righteous!

The best way I know to combat 
this deplorable propensity of mine is to be 
always conscious that the person I am judging 
is someone God loves very much--
To see that person through God's eyes, 
with His compassion, 
His mercy, His understanding. 
The same way Jesus looked at 
the adulterous woman in John Chapter 8. 
Jesus did not go preaching to her about sin. 
He loved her. 
He saw the person she COULD be, 
and eventually became! 

There is so much pain in everyone's life, 
and I pray I will always be the one 
to offer encouragement instead of criticism. 
I hope I will remember to be the one 
to offer words of life, of healing, 
instead of throwing the first stone 
to destroy someone's self esteem, or confidence. 

God HATES the sins of the tongue. 
There is much in the Bible about this! 
But we should always speak good 
for our own future. 
1 Peter 3:10 says, "Whoever wants to embrace life 
and see his days fill up with good,..
say nothing evil or hurtful, 
cultivate good, run after peace..." 
(The Message) 

Yes, we reap what we sow!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WOYWW: Blessed are the Poor!

 On my desk, I have my usual art materials.
You may have spotted the bottles of spices
at the top.
We are going to celebrate a good friend's birthday
and I decided we shall give her some
spa treatment. 
I will put the spices into a some sort of facial steam
which is supposed to reinvigorate her skin!

 "Blessed are you who are poor...." Luke 6:20-26

What does blessed mean?  
Partly it means that God turns His face 
towards us with divine favor. 
With all the good in Him. 
To be poor in spirit, what does that mean? 
It's not that we have no money or resources, 
because in Matthew 5:3, we read, 
"Blessed are the poor in spirit..." 
I think it means being aware 
that we are spiritually bankrupt before the Lord. 
That we have absolutely nothing 
that we can offer Him because He is awesome, 
and mighty and does not need anything from us.

 Sometimes I give talks about our business to students. 
I never fail to mention that 
God is a partner in our business, 
and we are successful because of Him. 
Prayer is always a part of the way we do business.

 After one particular talk, 
I was inordinately pleased with myself 
and sort of congratulated myself for doing a good job.  
Immediately, God took me to task 
and showed me verses from Luke 17. 

In it the master says, 
"When you have done everything 
that was assigned to you, you should say, 
'We are unworthy servants; 
we have simply done our duty."

 The Beatitudes are not about what we do. 
If we are a CEO, or a garbage collector, 
a priest or a toilet cleaner,  
that is not what is important to God. 
What is important is what we are, our character. 
Are we becoming like Jesus every day? 
Because for all our roles and duties, 
God can raise up stones to do it all better than we can! 

1 Corinthians 6:11

In the Amplified and other bibles, 
we have these words, 
"made holy, washed clean, purified, 
made free, consecrated, set apart, 
hallowed, pronounced righteous, 

After a tiring day fighting 
pre-Christmas crowds in Divisoria 
or a stifling visit to the ukay ukay 
in Paradise Commonwealth, 
it is soooo refreshing, 
such a relief to have a good bath! 
You know the feeling! 
To be free of the grime that sticks to you, 
the sweat, the smell.
 It's so invigorating to have clean hair again, 

to not be sticky, to put on fresh clothes.

Are we as conscious of the grime, 
the dirt that besets our souls when we sin? 
Are we as eager to wash it away? 
Perhaps if we see our soul in a special mirror, 
we would be eager to do all we can 
to be washed in the blood of Christ, 
to be cleansed by the Holy Spirit.

Joe Focht writes, 
"There is no more confused message 
that you and I could give 
to a lost and dying world 
than to live in sin and at the same time 
to tell people about the 
transforming power of Jesus Christ. 
There isn't a more confusing thing 
we can do to our kids and the 
generation behind us, to this world.

God will not use a compromised life 
to reach a compromised world. 
God will use a life that is given over to Him, 
that is a demonstration of the message 
that through the power of Jesus Christ 
and His love He can 
transform our lives and set us free.”