Monday, July 16, 2018

Taking My Place

“...whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39

I like revisiting the exemplary story of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz in February 1941. He and his community had helped to house and feed 3000 Polish refugees, of which 2000 were Jews. He also broadcast illegally on radio and wrote about the atrocities of the Nazis. In Auschwitz, he would give away his meagre rations, pray over the sick and comfort those in need. He was beaten and tortured for his faith, singled out for hard labor until he passed out. 

In July 1941, three prisoners escaped and 10 random men from the same cell were chosen to be starved as punishment. When Franciszek Gajowniczek’s name was called, he cried out, “My wife! My children!” Father Kolbe stepped forward and said: “I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place because he has a wife and children.”

Father Kolbe and the other 9 prisoners were brought to an underground bunker stripped naked. One by one, they starved to death. One witness said that there was never any urine in the slop bucket when he came to clean it, for they drank it all. He would hear them singing and praising God led by the priest. Father Kolbe was one of a few who survived after two weeks. They were all injected with carbolic acid and burned unceremoniously. 

Father Kolbe was beatified on October 1971 and canonized in October 1982. Both times, Gajowniczek was a guest in the Vatican.  This man Saint Maximilian Kolbe gave his life for, declared, “so long as I have breath in my lungs, I would consider it my duty to tell people about the heroic act of love by Maximilian Kolbe."

How about us? One man took our place, and the eternal punishment for our sins. Are we so grateful that we would tell everyone who would listen about the amazing love of Jesus Christ? 

Sunday, July 15, 2018


“In Him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the INTENTION of His will...” Ephesians 1:11

Intention means something one aims or plans for. Today, I, along with my brothers and sisters in my covenant community, Ligaya ng Panginoon, celebrate our 43rd anniversary since God called us to be a community of disciples on mission. 

In July 19, 1975, God said through one of the founding members, “And I will give you a name. It will be a very special name, for it is I, the Lord your God, Who will give it to you. It will be the name by which you will be known and by which I will be proclaimed.   I, the Lord your God promise this to you.” And God was the One who gave us our name, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, the Joy of the Lord. 

Many of us think that the events of our lives are accidents or coincidences. But God is always intentional with us, not only in the big things that happen, but also in the little things. When we peer through microscopes into the smallest molecular cells of our bodies, and into powerful telescopes to see the vastness of a universe expanding, we will see the fingerprints and the mind of a personal God who fine tunes everything for our existence. 

He is always waiting for us to listen to Him. He is longing to share His treasure with us. It may be impossible to believe but He yearns for our love. That is why He sent His Son as a sacrifice. We will never fully realize why and how much He loves us while we are still on earth. But one day, when we see Him face to face, He will show us. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

He Giveth Again

“Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without Your Father’s consent.” Matthew 10:29

Charles Templeton was a charismatic preacher in the 40’s. He founded Youth for Christ and in 1946, he held crusades all over Western Europe with another charismatic young man, Billy Graham. Crowds would follow these evangelists, listen, and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But by 1948, Charles had doubts about his faith and God. He completely changed his world view and became an agnostic. One of the questions he wrestled with is the age old ‘Why would a good God allow all the pain and suffering in the world?” He put it this way, “Why does the omnipotent God, knowing that there are tens of thousands of men, women, and children starving to death in a parched land, simply let them waste away and die when all that is needed is rain?"

God is good and loves each one of us, but He also gave us the freedom to love Him back. He gave us the choice to rebel, to go against His Word and His law or to follow Him. All the evil in the world today is because we chose to disobey. But even when we are in pain, even when we suffer, if we choose Him, there is amazing, inexhaustible grace.

Annie Johnson Flint came to the faith at a young age, and was adopted by Christian parents along with her sister. She became a helpless invalid with little means and she started writing poems that were eventually published. It was painful for her to write with her twisted fingers, but her faith shone through her poems and she was able to minister and bless many. Although crippled, helpless and in pain, Annie never complained, and as she grew older, her suffering increased. She believed God could heal her in a heartbeat, but He chose not to, so she could glorify Him in her life. 

She wrote: “He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added afflictions He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father’s full giving is only begun. Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”

Friday, July 13, 2018


"Take with you words and return to the Lord." Hosea 14:3

Sometimes all I do is talk, talk, talk to God,

not allowing Him to say a word to me! What are the words that we should say to God? This passage from Hosea is always

recited on the Sabbath preceding Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people.

The Jews usually observe this holy day 

with long fasting and prayer in the synagogue. It is a day of atonement and repentance. Perhaps the words we are to say are, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." 

No amount of sacrifice, punishment, no length of jail sentence can give us the forgiveness we need from God. He gives it freely, when we accept Jesus’ finished work on the Cross for us. If we realise the immensity of the freedom we have in Christ, we will spend our life rejoicing. 

(Erwin is in red)

In our prison ministry, we got to know Erwin Escalante. He was in prison for 18 years for a crime he did not commit. At the end of his case, the verdict handed down was “Reclusion Perpetua”, or a life sentence. He was transferred to Muntinlupa, where all the hardened criminals, the drug lords, the murderers, were. Inside, he was caught in the middle of a riot between two warring gangs. He almost got killed when one gang member cocked a gun at him but the gun did not fire. Other inmates were bloodied, others stabbed, but God kept Erwin safe, behind his plastic Orocan cover he used as a shield. 

Then, his case was overturned, and his family came to bring him home. After 18 years, he was out of prison. The family stopped in Star Mall to use the rest rooms. When Erwin saw the insides of the mall, he started jumping up and down, screaming in excitement and kissing the walls and floors! That is how excited we should be to realise the freedom we have in Christ! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

SOS Notes

“Give as freely as you have received.” 

Matthew 10:8

Jesus sends out the twelve apostles with instructions to announce that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, that the Kingdom is very near. As Jesus has freely given this good news of salvation and fullness of life, they were to give the same without cost to anyone who would listen. 

In July last year, a funny incident occurred. Funny to most people but not to the man it happened to. The man was fixing an electronic lock in a Bank of America branch in Corpus Christi, Texas, when the door slammed shut and he was trapped inside the room of the ATM machine. He had left his phone in his truck so he resorted to sending SOS notes through the receipt slot. “Please help. I’m stuck in here and don’t have my phone. Please call my boss at 210- - -“ Everyone who withdrew money laughed and thought it was a great prank, until someone took it seriously and called the police for help. 

There are people all around us sending out invisible SOS notes. Sometimes they hide behind a door of nonchalance, odd humor, even irritability. Do we try to reach out and give what we have received from God without cost, or do we walk away? We live in a world that is full of broken, hurting people. God can use us, as broken vessels ourselves, to heal the broken hearted, to bind their wounds. It may just take a listening ear, a hug, our presence. We may never know that our prayers, our encouragement, a positive word, was a gift at the right time to a person in need. Sometimes the best way to heal our brokenness and our neediness is to reach out to others and give whatever we can. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WOYWW: The Battle is not Yours

On my table this week:

I am making a sample for my upcoming workshop, “Wrapped with Prayer”

“Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim His wondrous deeds.” Psalm 105:2

In the busyness of life, the messiness of our schedules, the craziness happening around us, who has time to take time to praise God, to sing His praise, and proclaim His wondrous deeds? We can see the busyness, the messiness, the craziness as battles we have to face, armies coming against us, invading our peace.

The same happened to King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. Vast armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites declared war against him from beyond the Dead Sea. Jehoshaphat was alarmed at this dreaded news and sought the Lord for guidance. He gave orders that everyone proclaim a fast for he knew they were powerless against this evil. I can’t help but compare this situation to what is happening in our country, how we too are powerless to stop the juggernaut of evil being pushed from the highest levels of power against us. We too need to fast, and this is exactly what our Bishops are asking us to do on the 17th to 19th of this month. (

God’s ways are certainly not our ways. When the people of Judah gathered together, one man prophesied, “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow march out against them. But you will not even need to fight.” The King appointed singers to walk ahead of the marching people, singing to the Lord and praising Him for His holy splendour. “Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!”

That is exactly what our Bishops advice as well! “Rejoice and be glad!” they exhorted. The more life becomes busy, the more our leaders become crazy, let us praise God harder and longer! Like Jehoshaphat and His people, let us keep our eyes on God and expect Him to fight our battles for us!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Reaping the Whirlwind

“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” Hosea 8:7

I chose this verse today because I love how it sounds even if I don’t understand it much. If we sow the Word, we will get a hundred fold harvest. That I understand. 

Sir Arthur Harris, a British Air Marshal in WWII, said in 1942, at the start the bombing campaign against Germany, “The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.” What was the whirlwind but the devastation of huge swaths of Europe and Asia, 80 million deaths including the suicide of Hitler, war crimes trials and prison sentences, and so much more long-lasting change in the world. 

Perhaps we should ask if we are sowing any wind, something with a lot of noise, but with no substance. What are we chasing after? What is important to us? What will be the consequences? My sister who is head of our Human Resources in our family business often tells me that when she interviews prospective staff, she asks whom they admire and want to emulate. Often the dismaying answer is a celebrity who is rich and famous but leads a less than praiseworthy life. Many of the women are single mothers, or living with men not their husbands. They gave up their youth, their morals, their prudence, their future, for love, and they reap the whirlwind. 

We are made in the image of God and we have intrinsic value. But many people make their god in their own image. They choose their own ‘moral’ law to follow. They run after their own idols. Whatever it is, money, youth, a relationship they sacrifice everything for, if God is not at the center, it’s all for nothing. As Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain who build it.” 

Monday, July 09, 2018

Broken in the Desert

“I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.” Hosea 2:14

The Book of Hosea in the Old Testament is a very strange story which parallels God’s love for His unfaithful chosen people who sought after false gods. The prophet Hosea married a prostitute, who deserted him and ran after other men. Hosea had to buy her back for fifteen pieces of silver, five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. 

Even though Gomer, Hosea’s wife was unfaithful, Hosea was faithful. So too is our God with us. He continues to woo us, to try to win us back, to allure us. But why bring us to the desert? The desert is a place of barrenness, of brokenness. Sometimes it is only in our brokenness that we are silent and we seek after God. Perhaps when we undergo a hardship, a challenge, painful experiences, we ask, “Why me? Why now?” 

If there ever was one to ask, “Why me?”, it would be Saint Paul who was obedient to God, and gave all his time and effort to tell people to good news. But oh what he suffered! He was beaten, stoned, whipped, shackled, shipwrecked, abandoned...and the list goes on. And yet, Saint Paul wrote to the Romans, “We can rejoice too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know they are good for us- they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation...We know how dearly God loves us...”

There is nothing God wants more than our salvation, that He brings us back into His fold. When He leads us into the desert, we can be sure He is right there beside us. 

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Broken Pieces

“My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I think there is much to unpack in this passage, and that the more we unpack, the more we will find. Saint Paul starts the 12th chapter of his letter to the Corinthians with the words, “This boasting is all so foolish!” And he proceeds to boast, not about what he has done for God, and his experiences, even if there is much to tell, but about his WEAKNESSES! Very few people would boast about their weaknesses. 

According to recent statistics, Filipinos scroll through social media an average of 3 hours and 57 minutes a day! That’s a huge chunk of life! When we post, do we post about our achievements, travels, our kids saying the funniest things, food we enjoyed? Of course! No doubt about it! And I think that’s great! Personally, I love reading happy, excited posts. Do we boast about the bad report we submitted, the big mistake we made, the awful diagnosis we received at the doctor’s office? I’ve seen some posts like that, but they are few and far between. We like sharing about what makes us happy, rather than what makes us feel sad, or anxious, or puts us in a not so good spotlight. 

Saint Paul said, “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Really? That is so opposite to what the world preaches! Perhaps like Saint Paul, we should see our weaknesses as a way for Christ to really shine through us. 

There is a beautiful Japanese art of repairing broken pottery called Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi which means “golden repair". It uses lacquer mixed with gold powder to put together the broken pieces. Instead of throwing away the pieces, or hiding the damage, it emphasises  it and treats it as part of its history. I think God sees our weaknesses and brokenness in this way, as part and parcel of who we are. He is more than able to use us as we are, broken pieces and all, and make us a masterpiece to glorify the Master!

Friday, July 06, 2018

With All My Heart

“With all my heart, I seek You...” 

Psalm 119:10

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” Saint Augustine wrote those powerful words in one of his most well known writings, “Confessions”. He tells of his long journey from darkness into Christ’s marvelous light. 

Many people are searching for God but they do not know it because the great deceiver does his work well. I like what the famous actor Jim Carrey said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.” A well known sports celebrity who earned millions for just one game and all the accolades the world could offer, confessed that he had everything he ever wanted, but lost all that he loved. 

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Do we know why we were born? Do we know the meaning of our existence? Do we know our purpose? All these questions can only be answered by the One who created us. Let us seek Him with all our heart and He will give us everything we need to live a joyful and fulfilled life. 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Jesus Sees Our Faith

“Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic...” Matthew 9:2

Here we see how crucial our faith is. Two or more men carried a paralytic to Jesus. He saw the faith of the man, forgave the sick man’s sins and healed him of his paralysis. 

There are many people around us “paralyzed” by sin, fear, shame, greed, and even by their own past. We can bring them to Jesus but it is important that we have faith and not hopelessness. Even in the midst of darkness, and I believe our country is experiencing one of the darkest moments in recent history, we should resolve to depend on God and have faith that He has all the answers. 

I was listening to Lysa Terkeust’s story about her two adopted boys. Jackson and Mark were living in an orphanage in Liberia, a West African country ravaged by 14 years of civil war. They ate once a day, usually just a bowl of rice, and a little chicken on a good day. They trudged a long way to school and had to sit on a rock wall during lunch so they wouldn’t bother the others who had lunch. Every day they had Bible study, but one day the teacher said, “We won’t have Bible study today. I’ll call one of you, and you tell us what you want to thank God for.” Jackson was called and his mind was blank. He had no idea what to be grateful for so he sang a praise song. The next day, another boy was called. He did the same thing, and Jackson joined him. The next day, another boy was called, and he too sang a praise song, and Jackson and the 2nd boy joined him. On the twelfth day, 12 boys were singing a praise song when the American consul came for a visit. He promised to bring the “choir” to America to raise funds for the orphanage.  

When the boys sang in Lysa’s church, God spoke in her heart to adopt two boys. Lysa fought against that for a while, but she eventually did. Since then, 40 children from that orphanage were adopted. That was in 2003. 

Let us face the future in confidence and praise God no matter what the present looks like. God is on His throne and He has a wonderful plan for our life. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

WOYWW: Out, Out, Out!

Here is my desk today. I am working on some stuffed dolls for my upcoming “Wrapped in Prayer” workshop. 

For instructions, to make the doll on the right, here’s a link:

“They begged Him to go away and leave them alone.” Matthew 8:34

This is a very curious Gospel story. When Jesus went to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs came out of the tombs. We are told they are so savage, no one could pass by that road. These men were evil, possessed by many spirits. Jesus exorcised them which to me is a good thing. But when the people of the town learned of this, they went to meet Jesus and begged Him to go away and leave them alone! Isn’t that the craziest thing? I would think they would celebrate! Two men are back to being normal, productive citizens, and they can all use the road to the tombs again. And a herd of demons were expelled from their midst! 

Sometimes however, people prefer the status quo to any form of change. The big thing for these people is they lost their herd of swine. The demons transferred from the demoniacs to the swine and the swine rushed down to the sea and drowned. Instead of rejoicing that Jesus was in their midst and they could learn things from Him, could ask Him to heal them, heal their daughters, even raise their people from the dead, they wanted him out, out, out! 

Some people think they’re religious and following God. I heard of one government secretary who starts their meetings with prayers and quotes Bible verses. But those under him are dismayed because he escapes from his responsibilities,  hardly appears for work but shows up for pictorials. He squanders government funds and reprimands his people when they make too rigorous a schedule when they have meetings abroad. I am thinking this would be the kind of man who likes his life as it is, and would want Jesus out, out, out should Jesus appear in his midst. 

How about us? Do we want the Lord in our midst? Are we not afraid of change? If He asks us to give what we most hold dear, will we still choose Him? Or would we want Him out, out, out? 

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


“Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!” John 2:27

We could read this as, “Do not perish in your unbelief, but believe.” Let us put ourselves in Saint Thomas’ shoes, or as he is most commonly called, “Doubting Thomas”. When he was told by the disciples that they had seen Jesus, he adamantly proclaimed the famous line, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 

Thomas was not at the crucifixion but he certainly heard all the gruesome details from an eyewitness. The imprint of the nails, and the piercing of the sword at the side of Jesus became so concrete to him, that not even the testimony of the disciples that they saw the risen Lord, convinced him that Jesus was alive! How about us? What keeps us from believing in the power of Jesus to change lives and hearts, transform circumstances for our good and perform miracles? 

In Matthew 13:58, we see that Jesus was not able to perform many miracles in His hometown because His neighbors were skeptical. Perhaps we are too much like Jesus’ neighbors. We grew up with all the Bible stories. They are too familiar to us. We are not new believers, excited and eager to delve deeper into the Word, to dig into the truth.  

How do we get out of this mindset? I think it is as easy as asking Jesus to reveal Himself in a new way to us. Just as Jesus showed Himself to Thomas, and said, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” 

If we just open up a little, and allow Jesus in, He will meet us where we are. 

Monday, July 02, 2018

God’s Dreams in Our Hearts

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Psalm 95:8

It would be so easy if we heard God’s voice every morning and just had to follow what He said. We would be successful, have the perfect family, security for the future and know with absolute certainty we were going to heaven. Life would be simple, and we wouldn’t be confused about our priorities and busy ourselves about things that had no value. True?

God wants to speak to us, and if we read His Word every morning, and keep quiet enough to hear Him, we will get His instructions for most anything we need to know. It just takes a bit of effort every single day. But do we do it, and do we obey? 

One day in 2007, when Christine Caine, an evangelist and speaker, was in the Thessaloniki airport in Greece, she saw many handmade posters of missing girls. She found out that these young girls were trafficked and some sold on an auction block like slaves. She heard God tell her to help. “But God,” she argued, “I just gave birth! But I’m a woman! But I’m an Australian who lives so far from here...” Her buts were a mile long. God knew all those buts. He also knew that in 2008, Christine with all her buts would obey and start the A21 Campaign with her husband Nick, and would be instrumental in rescuing babies from pedophile rings, and young girls and women from sexual trafficking. Just last month, the head of the largest sex trafficking syndicate in Greece was put in jail from her organization’s efforts. 

Christine studies the Word, listens to God, and obeys. First it was the little things. How about us, do we listen and obey the little things God instructs us? Let us not harden our hearts so God can put His dreams into our hearts. 

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Faith Connection

"Daughter, your faith has healed you." 
Mark 5:34

The story of this woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years can be discouraging. She spent everything she had for doctors and medicine and she was not getting better. In fact she was getting worse! I know so many people who have been sick a long time. In fact I am one of them! I have Pemphigus Vulgaris, an auto-immune disorder, very strange and very uncommon. Sometimes I feel like that veiled woman in a crowd in search ofJesus. "If only I can get close to Him. If only I had enough faith."

This woman was very fortunate in that she managed to touch Jesus' garments and she was healed instantly. Jesus looked around at the crowd surrounding Him, and asked, "Who touched me?" What is important to me in this story is that Jesus looked for her. For 12 years, perhaps she was feeling neglected by God, insignificant. How many times do we pray, "Do you care, God? Do You know what I am going through?" This is what our enemy wants, that we think God does not care, God does not know what we are going through. In this battle of the mind, we need to fight for the truth.
God does care. We matter to Him. Every single one of us. We are loved. That is what we want to know in our heart. "Who touched me?" is the cry of a God who wants to connect with us. Faith is our connection. 

"Daughter, your faith has healed you," Jesus said. And so with us. Our faith that whatever we go through, whether 12 years or not, whether it is about healing, or broken relationships, or lack of money or whatever, God walks with us. God is there, loving us whatever we are going through. He will never allow things to happen to us that is not good for our character. That will not make us bloom. In the next story of Jairus and his daughter, Jesus says, "Do not be afraid. just trust me."

Yes Lord, I trust You. You will work everything in my life for my good, because I love You and I trust You! (Romans 8:28)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Faith Muscles

“As you have believed, let it be done for you.” Matthew 8:13

Whenever I give an art workshop, I always say that creativity is like a muscle. We all have it, but if we don’t exercise it, it will be limp, and useless. Use it all the time, and it will bloom and grow. There are many exercises and challenges available online to increase creativity. Creativity is not just for artists. Business people, teachers, mothers and fathers, every one on the planet  needs it all the time to be more effective, and successful in their jobs, roles and relationships. 

In Matthew 13:58, we read that Jesus did not do many miracles in His hometown because of the people’s lack of faith. Is faith like a muscle as well? Can we grow in faith just as we can grow in creativity? No doubt about it! Like the gift of creativity, God has also given each one of us, a seed of faith. We can go to God’s gym to develop our spiritual muscles by exercising our faith everyday, by believing in God’s promises, by rebuking the enemy’s whispers of hopelessness and deception. If someone is sick, we should pray over him and not be shy or insecure that our prayers will not work. Whatever challenge comes our way, let us use our faith muscles and one day we will be spiritual Schwarzeneggers!!! 

Let us become so strong in the faith that the devil trembles when we get up in the morning!!! 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Jaws of Death

“The jaws of death shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

If we were to pick sides, we would rather be on the side of victory, true victory. On one hand, there are all these mortals attacking the Church, persecuting the Church, insulting the Church, throughout history, in different corners of the world.  There was Nero who invented all sorts of barbaric torture for the early Christians, making them human torches. The persecution continues today, and there are many unknown martyrs in different parts of the world. But just as Nero’s systematic oppression of the followers of Christ made them stronger and more fervent, so today where there is persecution, there is also more growth in the number of Bible believing Christians. 

On the winning side, we have Jesus Christ, who allowed Himself to be crucified so His followers would have not only fullness of life but eternal life. Before He died, He prophesied that He would rise up on the third day (Matthew 27:62-64). It may surprise some to know that there is solid historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. The proof is so strong that serious historians of all stripes, even atheists, concede the empty tomb, and the appearance of Jesus after his death. This is why the Christian church was established and grew in spite of the persecution. 

One shrewd Jewish businessman got baptized a Catholic after staying with a Borgia Pope in the Vatican and doing business with the Vatican bank . He was asked why he was becoming a Catholic after witnessing all the scandals and corruption. “I'm a businessman,” he answered, “and I know one thing for sure: no earthly business that stupid or corrupt could possibly last fourteen weeks;  yours has lasted fourteen centuries.  It's a miracle;  I'm convinced!"

Our Church and our faith, and even God is attacked today. But as Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urges, let us stay calm. “Be fools for Christ. God is the Savior. We do not need to save God. It is God who will save us."

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Building on Rock

“Anyone who hears My words and puts them into practice is like the wise man who builds his house on rock.” 
Matthew 7:24

Many buildings have collapsed in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. That is because developers have to build on swampy ground. They need to spend more money, time, and expertise on the foundation of the building. Sometimes more than half of the cost of the building is spent on the foundation and still the building falls. 

Many people like to “experiment” with their lives. We already have a manual given by our Creator, our “manufacturer”. If we follow His instructions, we are guaranteed fullness of life. We do not need to be an expert to know that car maintenance is important if we want to improve its performance. We need to bring it to a qualified center for scheduled service check ups specified in the manual. What makes us think we “know” how to live our lives without going back to our manual, the Bible? 

Sometimes when we look around, all we see is shaky ground. That was the challenge that faced the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He was asked to build the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on land that was a slush of soft mud. Tokyo is a city that averages 2000 earthquakes a year. It is so seismically active that in 2011, Tokyo experienced more than 10,000 earthquakes! What did Wright do? First, he made sure to float a solid foundation on the 60 foot layer of soft mud underneath the hotel. The building withstood the worst earthquake in 52 years while many buildings around it fell. 

Even if all around us is confusion, fake news, relative truths, we need to build our life on rock, the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

WOYWW: By My Fruit

I am preparing for a workshop tomorrow entitled, “Creative Faith Journaling”. I have given this workshop many times before but this is the first time people are actually paying for it! 

This was a workshop I gave last week and it was a lot of fun! 

I so enjoy helping people bring out their creativity! 

“Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:17

“By their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:20) These days there’s a lot of temptation to judge people and even wish they get thrown into the fire for all eternity. One “false prophet” pronounced that our Philippine President has shown the highest levels of spirituality after the President declared God to be stupid. It is tempting, but we should not issue final judgments. “Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.” (Matthew 7:3) We can however judge a tree by its fruit: “by their fruits, you will know them.” 

The first “tree” we should examine is ourself. What kind of fruit is on our branches? In Galatians 5:22, we can find a checklist of the fruit we must bear: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When people meet us, do they see this in us?

One time a supplier for our business found out I was a Christian, and he asked: “You were not a Christian last year when I came here, were you?” How painful for him to point out that I was unusually impatient that day! 

It is said that the Christian is the world’s Bible. We are ambassadors for Christ. We are His hands and feet here on earth. May You Lord enable us to exhibit the fruit of Your Holy Spirit. 

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


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Listen to Me

“Listen to me, O Lord!” 2 Kings 19:16

Many of us would like to have God’s undivided attention. Oh wait! We do! In history books we read that the ambitious king of Assyria waged military campaigns, destroyed walled cities and towns and in 2 Kings 19, he was gunning for Jerusalem. He started mocking not only Hezekiah, the king of Judah, but also the God of the Israelites. 

Hezekiah came before the Lord in the temple, and prayed, “You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and listen! Open Your eyes, O Lord, and see! Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God! Save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.” (2 Kings 19:15-19)

Like Hezekiah, we too have an enemy that wishes to destroy us. He prowls around like a lion, looking for any way he can attack us and take us down (1 Peter 5:8). He wants to destroy our country, our Church, our families, our health, our relationships, everything we value. He taunts us and tries to make a mockery of our faith from all directions. 

Like Hezekiah, we need to humble ourselves and pray. God will make a way where there is no way. The Assyrian army was not able to breach Jerusalem’s wall. They had to turn back because of a plague that killed 185,000 Assyrian troops. King Sennacherib had to return to Nineveh. 

As people of God, we have His ear. We should always hope, always be thankful, and aways be patient. God is working. Dictators and tyrants come and go, but the Word of God endures forever. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

All the Chances

“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye...” Matthew 7:5

I have to admit I am a very judgmental person. It’s one of those sins I keep confessing to the priest and can’t get rid of. So I can imagine Jesus saying to me, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” 

All of us, with no exemption, are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). And yet... I find it’s always “and yet” with our Father. He forgives us. He looks at us with compassion. He opened a way for us to get into heaven and have eternal life. 

God always makes a way when there is no way. For us and for others. When we see the worst in others, we just need to pray for them. To see them through God’s eyes of love and compassion. It is sometimes, maybe often, difficult to believe God loves the most obnoxious person on the planet, but He does. Perhaps that’s the reason he or she is still alive right now, driving us nuts. Perhaps that’s the reason we are still alive right now. God is giving us more chances to learn, to grow into more loving, generous, kind, servant-hearted people fit for His Kingdom. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

God-given Purpose

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

John the Baptist was born amidst amazing circumstances. His parents Zechariah and Elizabeth were very old, and they had no children because Elizabeth was barren.  One day Zechariah, a Jewish priest, was on duty inside the sanctuary in the Temple, burning incense.  An angel appeared, and Zechariah was overwhelmed with fear. Who wouldn't be? “God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth will bear you a son!"  Angel Gabriel then proceeded to list the awesome qualities of his son, and instructed him to name him John. "He will be great in the sight of God."


True enough, Elizabeth became pregnant, and she gave birth to a baby boy. When Zechariah wrote that the baby was to be named John, he instantly began to speak. Everyone was so amazed and the news of what happened spread throughout the Judean hills.  

When we were born, God knew us too. No angel came to announce our arrival, but He formed us just as "fearfully and wonderfully" as He formed John the Baptist. When we were born, I do believe all the angels and saints rejoiced in heaven.  If an angel came to deliver the news, the angel would have listed our awesome qualities too! 

In Philemon 1:6, Paul prays that Philemon would recognize and acknowledge all the good things he has in Christ.  WE have so many good qualities! We just have to recognize them and bring them out. If we obey and work with God, nothing is impossible.  "Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he," Jesus tells the crowd in Matthew 11:11. We may not aspire to be greater than John the Baptist, but I think it would be exciting to work with God who wants to bring out the best in us. That is how we will find meaning and our God-given purpose for our life! 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Mess Makers

“Observe how the lilies of the field grow...” Matthew 6:28

This is one of the most beautiful and reassuring passages in the Bible. Just reading through Matthew 6:25-34 made me peaceful. We can see how God takes care of the birds, how beautiful they are, the wild flowers in the field that grow even without care. “They do not toil or spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these!” Jesus goes on to say we should not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. “Each day has enough troubles of its own.” 

Yesterday when I was going through my Facebook feed, I could feel myself growing anxious. So many worrying things about our country, the economy, law and order, ballooning debt, human rights, the list is long and getting longer. We can say our country is in a big mess and can get messier still. Sigh. 

But yesterday I also facilitated an art workshop. In it I told the young participants to make a mess with the paints and mark makers. “The messier the better.” And then a masterpiece will emerge from the mess. 

Human beings are naturally mess makers. In the first reading for today, 2 Chronicles 24, the mighty prophet Zechariah told the people: “Why are you transgressing the Lord’s commands, so that you cannot prosper?” God wants us to prosper, to live well, but we do not follow the good instructions He gives us. So our lives get messy, our country gets into a big mess. 

There is only One who can save us. We can depend on Him to make a masterpiece out of our lives. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28