Sunday, December 31, 2017

Song of Simeon

“You have fulfilled Your Word...” 
Luke 2:29

Simeon, in the 2nd chapter of Luke, awaited the promised Messiah and found Him in the temple one day when Jesus and Mary brought the child Jesus to present Him to the Lord. “You have fulfilled Your Word!” Simeon exulted, “You may let Your servant go in peace!” 

Can we say to God today, at the closing of the year, “You have fulfilled Your promises to me. You may let me go in peace”? In the first place, do we know what God’s promises are? We can take Abraham as our example as he has been called our father in the faith. “All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3).

Do we know why God chose Abraham out of all the people in the world at that time? There are so many names listed in Genesis 11. What if God spoke to some others but they did not believe and obey? After all, it would have been a big sacrifice for anyone to leave their hometown.  Archaeological excavations in 1922 showed that in Ur, the house of a middle-class family would have 10-20 rooms, with the entire lower floor reserved for the servants. When God said, “Go away from your own country to a place I will show you,” Abraham obeyed. He is the ideal of everyone who overcomes the fear of the unknown, who wishes to go forward putting his trust in God. But Abraham did not leave empty handed. God promised him blessing upon blessing. 

As we leave 2017, we can say we are entering a whole new world. We have no idea what this new year will hold for us. But as always, we can depend on God and His many promises to us. Like Simeon and Abraham, God journeys with us. Let us hold Him to His promises. If we believe and obey Him, there is blessing upon blessing in store for us!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Passing Away

“This world is passing away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.” 
1 John 2:17

The holidays are a special time, a most wonderful time of the year, when we get together with family, reconnect with old friends, and celebrate. It’s a time when we can forget our diet for a while, prepare our favorite food, go out and spend more than we usually do. We can plan trips abroad, fun activities and get a little crazy. 

But these are holy days too. After all, the reason for the Christmas season is to celebrate the greatest gift of all, the gift of God’s love and His invitation to live forever with Him. It says clearly in 1 John 2:17, if we do His will, we will live forever! 

Sometimes I wonder about some people who act as if they will live forever here on earth. They cheat, lie and commit all manners of extortion to amass wealth and power. They live like they are entitled to commit any sin without consequences. They do not realize that with each lie, each act against God, their spirit is laid to waste. 

We should take the time to come before our God who wants the very best for us, and see if there is anything we are doing that desolates our spirit, the part of us that will live forever. Let us make 2018 the very best year yet! 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Saving Deed

“My eyes have seen your saving deed...” Luke 2:30

There are very few stories about the time when Jesus was a baby, and even less of Him as a child growing up. One of them includes an old man named Simeon, whose name in Hebrew means “to hear”. Although Simeon had no calendar, he was waiting for his appointment with destiny. It had been revealed by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the awaited Messiah. 

And so Simeon went to the temple that day and was rewarded. Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the temple to present Him. They offered a pair of pigeons as a sacrifice, and unknowingly, the beloved lamb of God. 

We too like Simeon, should have our ears attuned to the Lord’s coming. The Lord reveals Himself in many ways, and He will show His face to those who seek Him. After all, did Jesus not say, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me”?

If Jesus stands at the door and knocks, it means He is waiting, waiting for us to open the door and let Him in. He is not going to barge in, demanding that we listen to Him. It is up to us, if we open our hearts, our minds, our spirits, to hear just as Simeon heard, the call of the Master. Jesus is actually very “romantic”. He wants to woo us. He is not the caveman type, with a club, and a desire to dominate. He is kind, He is gentle, and He gives us the choice to listen to Him or not. 

If we open the door, we will marvel like Simeon, at what God will do in our lives. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Searching for the Child

“Herod is going to search for the child to destroy Him.” Matthew 2:13

Many forces today are “searching for the child to destroy him”. The family is being attacked left and right, sometimes blatantly, but most of the time, it is very subtle. What happens when children are brought up by strangers because the parents are too busy, or they are working far away? What happens when children go to school and they are not allowed to pray or to be taught about God and His love? What happens when lawmakers work to make it easy to dissolve marriages because of their own failed marriages? What happens when because of poverty and criminal syndicates, because of the proliferation of pornography, women and children are sold into prostitution or kidnapped to be sex slaves?

“According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today....According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.” (

Just last month, 9 children from ages 2 to 9 years old, were rescued by the Intl. Justice Mission and local authorities in a remote island in Cebu. It was a relative who was offering the young children for online exploitation!  

Throughout history the forces of evil march on to destroy God’s plan. Human sacrifice, abortion, sex trafficking, divorce, atheism, apathy, etc. What can we do, apart from pray? There are many things we can do, like writing our Congressmen, or supporting education for poor children, or finding ways to provide livelihood. What we should not do as a Christian is be indifferent and think we cannot do anything anyway, so why start?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

WOYWW: Telling Stories

Last night, I made some collages to decorate banks and a tumbler. I like doing  collages cause it’s quick and easy as long as you find images you like! 

“We are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard...” 1 John 1:3

I enjoy it when my 91-year old dad is in a story telling mood. He usually talks about the war. One of his stories is about their family getting kicked out of their nice mission house in San Marcelino by the Japanese in May 1943. It was a blessing because if they didn’t leave, they would all be dead. The Japanese shelled the whole area, raped young girls, and the older women would offer themselves in place of the young ones. The first American plane daddy saw was on September 20. He was walking along Rizal Avenue, and it was a Corsair, and it was flying very low. 

John, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, is one of the Twelve Apostles Jesus chose to accompany Him. John outlived all the other Apostles, and is the only one who did not die a martyr’s death. In his letters, John stresses that he writes about what he has actually seen and heard. He walked with Jesus, talked to Him, listened to His teaching and His stories, witnessed His miracles. Like my dad, John speaks from first hand experience. Just as my dad is so eager to recount his experiences, so too John wanted others to know what happened while Jesus walked the earth. He was fully persuaded that Jesus was God in human form. All the Apostles were, so much so they were willing to die for that truth. 

For me, my dad’s memories are precious. How much more precious and valuable are the writings of St. John, St. James, and St. Peter, who were witnesses of Jesus’ life on earth? Lord, may we learn what we can from Your chosen friends. Help us to find life, light and truth in their words! 

Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!
I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Enduring to the End

“Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power...” Acts 6:8

Today is the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. After Jesus left the earth, the believers rapidly multiplied but all did not go smoothly. There was some complaining and discontentment. The Twelve apostles called a meeting and decided to to select seven men to take care of the distribution of food so they would be free to preach and teach God’s Word. One of the chosen was Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He performed many amazing miracles, signs and wonders. But some men accused him of blasphemy and Stephen was stoned to death. 

Today, there are many many martyrs of the faith. There are secret churches, and many Christian leaders have been tortured, regularly beaten and even incapacitated at the hands of government authorities. Open Doors, an organization that keeps a watch list says persecution is most extreme in North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Iran. But even here in the Philippines, Christian brothers and sisters suffer persecution in Sultan Kudarat, where a church elder was gunned down, and Christians are being forced to sell their properties located near a mosque. Our Christian values are being attacked by our leaders, and we need to be vigilant. 

The readings for today are about the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, and Jesus’ warning to the disciples in Matthew 10:17-22, “...whoever endures to the end will be saved.” 

Lord, You reminded the disciples that we should not expect following You to be easy. Help us to endure to the end. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Miracle of Christmas, The Miracle of Love

“And the Word became flesh...” 
John 1:14

The miracle of Christmas is all about the Word of God taking on human flesh and dwelling among men. It’s God’s way of letting us get to know Him. 

Jesus is the total message of God. When we read about Him in the Gospels, He is God in the round. Jesus is no abstract concept we can delegate in the background as an epic myth. Jesus really existed and is a historical figure. And for the curious scientific mind, maybe the 300 prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus is mumbo jumbo, but we cannot discount that mathematically speaking, no one else but Jesus fulfilled all of it. Just one person fulfilling a mere 8 prophecies is a chance in an awesome 100,000,000,000,000,000!!!! It is totally impossible for one man to fulfill 300 prophecies. It can only be God who has control of time and space! 

So let us ponder this mystery of God becoming a man like us, this amazing miracle of love becoming flesh. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Temple to Live In

“Are you the one to build me a temple to live in?” 2 Samuel 7:5

Sometimes we think we have this brilliant idea, but it’s not at all what God wants. King David was struck with a guilty conscience when he realized he was living in a beautiful cedar palace and the Ark of the Covenant was housed in a tent. He decided to build a temple for the Ark. 

This Ark of the Covenant or Ark of Testimony is described in the Book of Exodus. It is a gold covered acacia chest containing Moses’ two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron and some manna. It symbolized the presence of God among the Jews, and was made according to God’s instructions in Exodus 25. 

But God did not want a temple built. 
Since the time of David a great many amazing cathedrals, basilicas and churches have been built for God. There is the majestic Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Cologne Cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris, Chartres, Sagrada Familia, Santiago de Compostela, etc. But one wonders if God would not rather be pleased with a little thatched hut in a barrio if it was filled with worshippers singing beautiful songs raised in praise to Him. Many of the beautiful churches in Europe are full of tourists taking pictures. Not many people take the time to pray, or think about the God who gave the magnificent gifts to the architects, sculptors, painters, stonemasons who fashioned these beautiful buildings. 

No, God did not want David to build Him a temple. Instead He told David that He will be the one to establish a house for him, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.” We too can be part of that house, that kingdom that shall endure forever. God does not want an awesome cathedral to live in, but to live in our hearts. Is He comfortable there or is it too cluttered with other things there is no room for the King of Kings? 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

What Child is This?

“I wonder what this child will turn out to be?” Luke 1:66

Because of the events preceding John the Baptist’s birth, everyone in their neighborhood and beyond were in awe and were wondering what was the deal about this child. An angel had appeared to his father Zechariah and he was struck dumb, his mother Elizabeth had been way past child bearing age when she conceived, and now the parents were naming him after no one in the family! Surely this child would blaze a trail, and he did!

We may not have had angels foretelling our birth, and other miracles attending our coming into the world, but like John the Baptist, we too have a God-given purpose and destiny. John knew his from birth apparently because he recognized Jesus when he was still in Elizabeth’s womb. Do we? 

All of us, like John, have the primary, so important job of being prophets in a fallen world. While we are being mothers, bank executives, engineers or students, we have the assignment to tell the world the wonderful news about God’s love and plan of salvation. If we’re not excited about that, we should be! We’re on the winning team! While people go about spreading fake news, and dire predictions about the economy, and complain about how the world is going to the dogs, we should know that we are on the victorious side. We are more than conquerors if we are on the side of Jesus. Why? Because we know the end of the book! We win!

We need not wonder anymore what that child would turn out to be! John the Baptist was not afraid of Herod or any worldly leader. He continued to tell the truth and he got beheaded for it. He fulfilled his role as prophet. Are we? 

Friday, December 22, 2017


“My soul glorifies the Lord...” Luke 1:46

In the 4th century Latin Vulgate translation, the opening word in this passage is Magnificat, which means “glorifies”. Jesus is still in Mary’s womb, yet already Mary is rejoicing. You can feel her excitement, her anticipation, her eagerness to receive all the good things God has in store for her. 

Like Mary, we too can carry Jesus in our hearts, our minds, in the very depths of our being. We can birth Him in our lives, if we but plant the seeds of His Word daily, by reading and pondering it. The Bible is a book of promises. It is filled with hope. There is nothing better the ancient enemy wants than for us to be deceived into thinking the Bible is irrelevant. 

We are all, whatever our station in life, created to be God’s dwelling place, an “inn” if you will, for the lowly babe who came to set us free. If we just get a glimpse of what an awesome God we serve, and His amazing plan for each one of us, we will leap and shout, and proclaim like Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior!” 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Appointment with Destiny

“Mary set out, proceeding in haste...” Luke 1:39

Mary had all the excuses in the world not to go to the hill country of Ein Karem. She was a young girl and she had just learned from an angel the most incredible news! She was to bear a son, and not just an ordinary boy. The Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would conceive in her womb the Son of the Most High, and His Kingdom would have no end. One would think that she would be more careful than most about her condition. After all, she was carrying within her a very special, grand and glorious baby. People should visit her, not the other way around. People should treat her special. 

But Mary was....well, different. The angel had also told her that her older cousin Elizabeth who everyone thought was barren was in her 6th month of pregnancy. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Because Mary did not think herself entitled, and did not put herself first, she hastened to Ein Karem, which means “Spring of the Vineyard” in Hebrew. 

Jesus said He was the vine and we are the branches in John 15:5. John the Baptist, who was in the womb of Elizabeth, “leapt” in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary arrived. Like a spring that wets the ground in preparation for the vines, John went before Jesus to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make ready the way of the Lord!”

I am sure Mary was confused about all that was happening to her and around her. But she kept these things in her heart and pondered them. Because of this, she was already guided by the Spirit who was leading the way to Ein Karem. Was it not an appointment with destiny that John, the “spring” would meet and recognize the “vine”? 

Sometimes we too do not understand all the goings on in our life. All does not have to be clear. All we have to do is to have God’s word in our hearts and mind, the Word dwelling within us. If we keep Jesus with us, and we do not always put ourself first, we can be sure His Spirit will lead the way. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ask Me for a Sign

On my desk today.

“Ask for a sign...” Isaiah 7:10

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, God sent a message to King Ahaz through the awesome prophet Isaiah. “Ask me for a sign...” He said. Ahaz at this time was worried and afraid of the enemies arrayed against him. “You do not believe me? If you want me to protect you, learn to BELIEVE what I say!” God said. 

Today, there may not be prophets of the stature of Isaiah, but I believe that we all can speak to the Lord, hear Him and know His mind. Our Father would desire nothing more than His children come to Him and ask for what we need. Jesus left the earth so we can have the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit and we can learn to live in a way that the Spirit can work powerfully in us. We just need to read and study the Bible to unlock this great power available to us. 

“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit upon ALL flesh; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men see visions: And also upon the servants and handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.” Joel 2:28-30

Do we want to be part of the outpouring of God’s Spirit? I do. The Bible is not just a bunch of fairy tales and legends. In it, God reveals His mind, how He loves us, and wants to anoint us. But it’s not going to happen if we don’t take the Word of God seriously, if we fill our minds with the unceasing chatter on TV, the memes on social media or gossip from our friends. 

Lord, teach us how to walk in Your supernatural, world-changing, healing, creative power. I ask that You give us a sign, a revelation of how we can align ourselves with what You are doing in the world right now. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Answered Prayers

“My words will certainly come true at the proper time.” Luke 1:20

These were the words of the Angel Gabriel to the Jewish priest Zechariah. While Zechariah was burning incense inside the sanctuary by himself, an angel appeared to him. The angel announced that the prayers of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth has been heard and Elizabeth, even in her old age, would bear a son. 

There are many stories in the Bible about women who were barren, who received intervention from God, and were given a son. There’s Elizabeth who was too old to bear children, Zorah who gave birth to Samson, Rebekah, Sarah, Hannah, and Rachel. Each of these women turned to God in their brokenness and hopelessness. 

Sometimes, when we have this desire in our heart, it is God who placed it there.  It may be that we want a baby, a business, a husband, a mission, an inclination to live somewhere else. First, we need to come before God like these barren women did. To birth a dream, we need God’s power and grace. It’s not all about what we want, but we need to work with God, to ask Him to bless us. As Jesus prayed, “Your will be done.” 

Jesus tells many secrets about how to ask God for what we want. In John 15:7, He says we have to have a personal, intimate relationship with Him. We have to be friends. Naturally, if we are friends with God, He will want to answer our prayers! “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” 

Another secret is in Mark 11:23, “You shall have what you say...” Let us continue to confess good things for ourselves and our loved ones. Let us not complain, predict dire consequences, or put others down. Let only good things come out of the abundance of our hearts. We can be sure that our words will certainly come true at the proper time! 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Our True Home

...and from all the lands to which I banished them, they shall again live on their own land.” Jeremiah 23:8

I find the modern history of God’s chosen people fascinating. It tells the continuing story of the relationship of God with His people. 

Here is a quote from Charles Krauthammer - The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998: “Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.”

God keeps His promises, no matter how impossible! After the Jews were exiled in 70 CE by the Romans, they continued to live the way of life God established for them, and they continued to pray that they would be able to return to the Promised Land. In 1948, the Jews were able to reestablish sovereignty over Israel under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion. 

The Jews underwent a lot of persecution. Some Jews believe that had there been no anti-Semitism, massacres, assimilation, had there been no Holocaust that murdered 6 million Jews, there would be 100-200 million Jews today. As it is, there are only about 6.5 million Jews in Israel today. 

Christians face severe persecution in many parts of the world at present. According to the US Dept. of State, “Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.” We do not belong here on earth. The readings of Advent are all about waiting and longing for our true King and our true Home. One day we will be called home, and live in our own land. God always, always keeps His promises. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017


“My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord...” Luke 1:47

Today is Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice”. Indeed we, like Mary, have much to rejoice about.  Just like Mary, our simple “Yes” to God will open many doors. Today let us spend time thanking God that He rescued us out of the muck and grime of sin and gave us hope. He gifted us with a new set of Ephesians 6 armor, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, so we will be able to stand firm against the ancient enemy who wants to steal every ounce of joy we have. 

By His mighty power at work in us, 

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20) All that power and promise is like a potent seed that when dropped into the soil of our waiting hearts, will burst out, and bloom and flourish! 

Yes, Lord! May my very being proclaim Your great love, mercy, and grace for all mankind! 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Waiting in the Lounge

“Oh that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have peace flowing like a gentle river.” 
Isaiah 48:18

God did not create us for an easy life. But He did create us for significance and purpose. Peace comes when we live aligned with God’s plan and purpose for our life. 

Our life here on earth is transitory. It’s like the waiting lounge we pass through on our way to our real home. Most people just like to be lazy and comfortable while waiting in a lounge. Others don’t want to waste time and make the most of it. They learn as much as possible about the place they are going to. They study the map, the places they want to visit. They try to get a feel for the new country. They get to know how the people there live, their customs and traditions. They want to fit in. 

It’s much the same with us. We should try to learn as much as we can about where we are going to spend eternity, shouldn’t we? After all, we won’t be here long. First of all, we should find out if we have the right visa. We may believe we’re going to heaven, but what if we have the visa for the other place we don’t want to end up in? 

In Matthew 7:21-23, we read of the miserable fate of some people who thought they would enter heaven. Jesus said, “Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord’, but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgement day, many will call out, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; you workers of lawlessness.” 

Lord, I want to enjoy Your peace for eternity. May I read Your Words, may I understand Your commands, and live according to Your plan and purpose for my life.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Violent Men!

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

For years, I could not understand this passage. Can violent men take God’s Kingdom by force? Multitudes followed John the Baptist to hear his message, and we can imagine that these were not refined, gentile crowds. These were the rough and ready, the eager, the zealous. They wanted in, and they would do anything to get in! Are we like that, spiritually aggressive, eager to take hold of all that God has for us, all His blessings of peace beyond understanding, joy, healing, love? Or are we content going to church, and not doing what a Christian shouldn’t do? 

If it was easy to get into heaven, why does Jesus say in Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able”? The word “strive” in the original Greek is agonizomai, which means an agonizing, intense, purposeful struggle. We find the same word in 1 Corinthians 9:25, and 1 Timothy 6:12. How interesting is it that in our modern day, it seems so easy to be a Christian? Just say the sinner’s prayer! But in all these verses we see there is much effort involved. We have to fight the good fight of faith. There’s a battle we have to win against the ancient enemy. 

If we want to win, we have to train. No one gets to the Olympics by deciding one day to join. There are years of training, times when you want to give up and relax. Runners run in the cold, the heat, eat well, work on their attitudes, and we need to do the same. Our trainer’s manual is the Bible, and to claim the Kingdom blessings, we need to aggressively, even violently go after it. Faith isn’t passive, it’s aggressive. We fight a spiritual battle against a wily enemy who wants us complacent. God has given us the full armor, and powerful weapons to win, as described in Ephesians 6:10-18. The good news is we can stand our ground, we can conquer, we can win! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hope in the Lord!

“Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31

I love these verses. If we put them together with another of my favorite verses, Isaiah 40:8, we can be unstoppable. “Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the Word of our God stands forever.” Forever. How many times have I heard, “Walang forever” (There is no such thing as forever)??? No wonder our world is in such a mess! If we don’t believe in forever, we think everything will pass away, we will live day to day with no thought of tomorrow. Without an eternal perspective, the world is doomed to selfishness, entitlement, consumerism, running after fleeting joys, one-upmanship, despair, hopelessness and aimlessness. What is the antidote? God and God alone. 

When we believe in God, His Word and His promises, we are well able to handle what life throws at us. We will be able to accomplish the impossible. I see it in my life. I am not smart and I lack any business sense whatsoever. I am fully aware of my limitations. But I am obedient and I made myself available to what my mom wanted me to do. I believe that if we honor our parents, blessings follow (Exodus 20:12, Proverbs 1:8, Ephesians 6:1-3). Growing up, I was always by her side, helping her, working beside her. When our business grew, she did not teach me and my siblings business principles, she taught us life principles. What we sow, we will reap. Pray, pray, pray. Nothing is impossible with God. Yard by yard, life is hard, inch by inch, it’s a cinch. God will make a way even if there is no way. Work hard and leave the rest to God. 

Today, even if we were not ambitious to start with, we have 21 stores and we are opening the 22nd before Christmas. It can be tiring, it can be frustrating. After 50 years in business, we see there is still so much to improve. But I’ve lived those 50 years and I’ve seen God work miracles, and I know He will continue to be the wind beneath our wings. If I look around me, at the condition the world is in, I feel sad and hopeless. But when I look to God and focus on His Word, I get exhilarated. Yes truly, we that hope in the Lord will never be disappointed! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Great Sign

“A great sign appeared in the sky...a woman clothed with the sun...she was with child...” Revelation 12:1-2

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or in the original Spanish, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. 

In the 1400s, Mexico was under Aztec oppression. In every town, there was a temple pyramid, where Aztec priests would offer human sacrifices to their god Huitzilopochtli. This god was the "Lover of Hearts and Drinker of Blood," and the priests would cut out the beating hearts of victims, usually adult men but very often children. Over 50,000 human beings were sacrificed each year. Then in 1523, Franciscan missionaries came and evangelized the Indian people. 

On December 9, 1531, Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to a 57-year old simple peasant man, an Aztec convert, who was on his way to mass. Mary asked Juan Diego to request Bishop Zumarraga that a shrine be built in her honor on the site where she appeared. When Juan presented this request to the Bishop, the Bishop naturally asked for a sign. After several encounters with Mary, Juan brought the Bishop what he asked for. When Juan opened his tilma, his peasant cloak, beautiful Castillan roses, foreign to Mexico, fell out, but more than that, the Bishop saw an extraordinary image of Our Lady on the tilma. The Bishop wept at the sight. That tilma still survives today and thousands go to see it in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We may be skeptical about apparitions and images appearing on tilmas. However, because Mary spoke to Juan Diego in his native language, and because she was wearing an Aztec dress in the image, this provoked millions of conversions to the Catholic faith in just under seven years. 

Today, we may not have human sacrifices to gods, but 27 million  women and children are being sacrificed at the altar of sexual trafficking. One woman’s story is particularly poignant. She gave money to some people who were going to help her get to another country where she would study nursing. Instead, she was forced to have sex with about 40 men a day. When she got pregnant and gave birth, they took her baby and sold the baby to pedophiles. Irene couldn’t take it anymore and leapt from the 4th floor of the apartment where she was held hostage. She was found, brought to A21, a foundation that fights sexual trafficking, and today, she is pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. 

There is too much evil in the world. But the vision in the Book of Revelation chapter 11 gives us hope. Because of Mary’s yes, because she gave birth to Jesus, and because Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of God and the authority of His anointed.” 

Rev. 12:10.

Monday, December 11, 2017

God Alone

“Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Luke 5:21

The Pharisees liked to find something to criticize about Jesus, and they found much. It was a pity because Jesus will not work in our life, will not work miracles, if we do not have faith.  In the 5th chapter of Luke, we find Jesus teaching and healing inside a house that was already full of people.  Then a commotion. Tiles from the roof were being removed, until there was a hole big enough for a stretcher to go through. Men with big, strong arms lowered the stretcher, and lying on it was a paralyzed man. The first thing Jesus noticed was the faith of the men who brought the paralytic. 

Often, we want to help others. We may have great ideas on how to help a friend with their financial problem. We might have thought of a way out of an officemate’s dilemma. Many times, people are sick, and we do not lay hands on them and pray for them. It may be that we are too busy, too lazy, but many times, it is because we have too little faith to make the effort.  The men in this bible story had so much faith, they did more than enough for their friend to get Jesus’ attention. And Jesus, impressed by their faith, said, “Your sins are forgiven.” This tells us that to Jesus, forgiveness of sins is more important than healing any physical ailment. 

We do not want to be like the critical Pharisees. Let us be careful not to find fault continually and lose our chance to get close to Jesus and have our sins forgiven. Instead let us be ever on the look out for ways to help others, love our neighbor, and grow our faith, so miracles may happen in our midst. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Put on Righteousness

“Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before Him, at peace.” 2 Peter 3:14

Await what things? Advent readings have been all about the Second Coming of the Lord, about how we have to be ready at any time, because He will come unannounced, like a thief in the night. “The heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.” Back up a minute. Everything? All the petty things I do? All those horrible thoughts about this person I don’t particularly like? I was just thinking about this yesterday, but in relation to some bigwig who flashed by us in his convoy. I was already annoyed by the traffic, and his line of cars escaped by countering the flow of traffic on the opposite lane. I was thinking, “Does God care about these seemingly insignificant infractions? Will it count in the eternal scheme of things?” I consider all our congressmen who want to allow the dissolution of marriage in our country just because they want to escape from their legal unions. Or how about our President cursing on TV and encouraging a culture of death and destruction? If we are to believe Saint Peter, we will be accountable for EVERYTHING we do. Who in the world is safe then? As Ric Warren says, “I am married to a sinner, and she is married to a bigger sinner!” We can’t point fingers at one another. 

But we can take comfort in this: “be eager to be found without spot or blemish before Him, at peace.” At first reading this seems highly, exceedingly, immensely impossible. But wait, I know there’s something somewhere in God’s Word which says put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). How do we do that? Galatians 3:27 says, “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” It’s not impossible after all! 

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

Yes Father, take away the filthy rags of my sin, and clothe me with the righteousness of Your Son! I can then await Your coming with eagerness and joy!