Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Nobody

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4




Everybody wants to be “somebody”. No one grows up desiring to be a “nobody”, or almost no one. Mother Teresa said she was just a little pencil in the hands of God. “He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more.” She also said she was a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, and He was sending a love letter to the world. God was able to use this little pencil to bring love to so many sick, desperate people not only in India, but to 139 countries around the world. I cannot imagine how this funny looking little nun was able to found 760 homes, including orphanages, centers for the dying, for refugees, for the aged, the dying, the blind, alcoholics, street children, and even one for leper’s in India. 


I believe it was because this saintly nun was humble which was why God was able to use her. She wrote, “Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.” She just trudged on with her work, knowing it was really God moving the strings. 


While she headed the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa kept this list of ways to cultivate humility for the sisters:

  1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
  2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
  3. Avoid curiosity (she is referring to wanting to know things that should not concern you.)
  4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
  5.  Accept small irritations with good humor.
  6.  Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
  8. Give in to the will of others.
  9. Accept insults and injuries.
  10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
  11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
  12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
  13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
  14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
  15. Choose always the more difficult task.


Humility is difficult in the me generation where thousands of selfies are uploaded in Facebook and Instagram every minute. “Google reports that its Android devices take 93 million selfies per day, and in one poll, 18-to-24-year-olds reported that every third photo they take is a selfie. Some subjects in one study reported taking more than eight selfies a day.”


We are told in different ways, “Just be yourself”, “Pursue happiness”, and we forget that selfishness produces apathy towards others. That is one of the reasons we have a broken world. We need more humility, a willingness to see others, and a readiness to sacrifice for others, because those “others” are us. Jesus prayed, “May they be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us...” (John 17:21)


Monday, August 10, 2020

Sow Bountifully

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully....God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8




God’s economy is very different from how the economy of the world works. In the world, we will find that value is put on men who use their intelligence and skills to get rich, to become influential, or famous. In God’s economy, it is the one who who pours out his life in love and service of others who is very rich in heaven’s eyes. 


I was amazed when I found out that celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain killed himself. He seemed to have the enviable life, traveling the world, meeting interesting people, and eating all kinds of delicious food all the time. His culinary and adventure programs were wildly successful, and his books were always in the best seller lists, but obviously something was seriously missing in his life. Bourdain said that, though he was considered Jewish by Judaism's definition, "I've never been in a synagogue. I don't believe in a higher power.” He advised in his book, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly”, that “Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride." He certainly looked as if he enjoyed himself, sampling what the world offered, from the exotic to the sublime. He claimed to have the best job in the world. Anthony Bourdain may have been idolized by many, but inside he was in pain. He revealed in one of his books, “As you move through this life...you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life...leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks - on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt." ­


Many of us are in pain, suffering even, at this time. There is so much heartbreak all around us. Whole families are getting sick. So many of the people I have been praying for have died. So many are in need of financial assistance. We can feel so helpless, and torn. Who do we help? How can we help? How much to give? How about us? God reassures us that when we think and feel for others, when we give generously, He will take care of us. We have to sow bountifully at this time, plant seeds of kindness, prayer, encouragement and financial help wherever we can. We can trust God to hold us up. We should have faith that His promise holds true. “God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” 


Sunday, August 09, 2020

A Tiny, Whispering Sound

“Peter spoke up and said, ‘Lord, if it is really You, tell me to come to You across the water.’ ‘Come!’ He said. So Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water, moving toward Jesus.” —Matthew 14:28-29




How impulsive Peter is! How foolish, foolhardy even! He is very much like a child who is eager to try something new and strange. Are we like Peter? We know we cannot walk on water, but will we ask Jesus, “Lord, if it is really You, tell me to come to You across the water, and I will!”? “Lord, if it is really You, tell me to go to China to be a missionary, and I will! “ “Lord, if it is really You, tell me to pray over the paralyzed man, and I will!” “ Lord, if it is really You, tell me to not be anxious with all that is happening around me, and I will!”


In the first reading for today, 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah is waiting inside a cave for the Lord to pass by. 


“A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains

and crushing rocks before the LORD—

but the LORD was not in the wind. 

After the wind there was an earthquake—

but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 

After the earthquake there was fire—

but the LORD was not in the fire. 

After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. 

When he heard this,

Elijah hid his face in his cloak

and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.”


If we want to hear the Lord we have to be quiet, for most of the time, He does not manifest with much drama, thunder and lightning! We have to be still and know that He is God over the Universe, but wants to visit with us in our stillness. “Lord, if it is really You, speak to me in a tiny whispering sound.” 

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Wait For It!

Then the LORD answered me: “Write down this vision and clearly inscribe it on tablets, so that a herald may run with it. For the vision awaits an appointed time; it testifies of the end and does not lie. Though it lingers, wait for it, since it will surely come and will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:2-3)



Habakkuk the prophet complained to the Lord with the same words we can use today: “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:1-4) What the evil and wicked people do today is not new. They did it before and they will do it again. Tyrants rise and take advantage of their power and position. But those past cruel and oppressive rulers, where are they now?

The ten years of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was the most intense persecution and repression of Christianity in China. Churches were burned, priests were tortured and martyred. China’s Catholics were targeted as enemies of the state. If one visits the Xishiku Church in Beijing, one will see a well tended site. That was where an elderly priest who refused to denounce his faith was buried alive by Chairman Mao’s radical Red Guards in 1966. Priests were forced to trample on crosses as Red Guards chanted, “Down with God!” Persecution like this was not uncommon during those days as Mao vowed to destroy any vestige of Christianity, or any religion. 

But where is Chairman Mao now? While, by some estimates, China is on track to have the world’s largest population of Christians by 2030, more Christians than the US! Truly God has a vision for China! God has a vision for the Philippines! He promises us, His faithful people, “For the vision awaits an appointed time...though it lingers, wait for it, since it will surely come and not delay.” 

Friday, August 07, 2020

What Profit?

“What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” Matthew 16:26




When I decided to open an account to do some trading on the stock market, I realized I was not going to earn very much money. I liked to hold on to the stocks I bought even when the price was going down. At the start of this pandemic, I deliberately did not look at the prices going down, and have not seen it since. It was a good thing I was a small time investor! We all like to make good investments, don’t we? My mom would always take down the telephone numbers when she would see signs of lots for sale, thinking if she buys property in a prime location, the value would rise in a few years. 


Some people in government have taken advantage of this pandemic by procuring PPEs and other items at prices much higher than market price. Others have used their positions in government to get contracts worth millions for their law businesses, security agencies, real estate firms, etc. They became very very rich in the process. I wonder what they will do with all that money?


We should take a look at our investments. Where do we put not only our money, but our time, our efforts, and our affections? Will it make a profit in the long haul? Jesus warned, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” Does what we do with our life today gain us a place in heaven? We may find at the end that we spent too much of it in pursuit of things that do not really matter. Let us invest in our relationships with God and His family. After our life here on earth, our temporary home, we will leave everything solid behind. But the family of brothers and sisters, Jesus and our Father, bound by the love of the Spirit will still be our family in our eternal home. 



Thursday, August 06, 2020

Insider Information

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Matthew 17:5




We celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord today. In a letter he wrote shortly before his death, Saint Peter reminisces about when he Himself witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus. He writes that, “we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen His majestic splendor with our own eyes. And He received honor and glory from God the Father when God’s glorious, majestic voice called down from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son. I am fully pleased with Him.’ We ourselves heard the voice when we were there with Him on the holy mountain.” 


Saint Peter continues, “Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place...” 


This awesome experience made an incredible impact on the lives of Peter, James and John.  They each saw a glimpse of the glory beyond the cross. It was INSIDER INFORMATION and Saint Peter is telling us that, “We were EYEWITNESSES of His majesty! WE OURSELVES HEARD this voice from heaven!!! You HAVE to be attentive to this message!"


How urgent can that be? The message was so compelling that Saint Peter wanted to spread the message far and wide until he was martyred in Rome in the year 64 AD. Saint Peter said “Pay attention to what the prophets wrote.” Why? Saint Augustine said, “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.”


Are we paying attention? Are we listening? 

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Waiting for Scraps

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Matthew 15:27)



I do not like the way Jesus treated the mother in this story in the Bible. She was a desperate woman for her daughter was tormented by a demon, so she approached Jesus and asked Him for pity. He ignored her at first and His disciples even encouraged Him to send her away! All because she was Canaanite and not a Jew! But eventually, they have an exchange of words which shows that all what preceded was a test of faith. Jesus came for the chosen people, true, but God’s heart is so big, even the Gentiles are included in His plan. 

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Jesus told her. But the woman persisted, saying, “Lord, help me.” Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She pleaded, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Isn’t it that sometimes we do not like God’s answers to our prayers? We even sulk or sometimes stop talking to Him because we feel He has forgotten us or is ignoring us. If this Canaanite woman stopped talking to Jesus, her daughter would not have been healed. She was humble. She persisted. She pleaded. She reasoned with Him. The stories in the Bible are not just stories for our reading pleasure. It is intentionally written for us to learn from. If we ever feel like God is ignoring us, stop! God is not an ATM machine where after pressing some buttons we get what we ask for. He sees our hearts, He knows us, and knows what we need to prod us to more faith, to a closer relationship with Him. 

Father, so many of us are continuously pleading for a stop to this pandemic. Many are in need of food, of livelihood, of healing, of peace of mind. Please help us. Give us, gracious Father, crumbs from Your Table, and we shall be saved. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

What Comes Out

“Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” Matthew 15:11




When my mother was still alive, we went on a pilgrimage to Europe because we found out she had tongue cancer. On the very first day, we waited to have lunch in a Chinese restaurant in Paris. While seated inside, we noticed that the waiters removed the tea cups from a pail, and the insides of the cups were filthy with the tea residue. After discussion, we left, along with many of our tour mates. The dirt inside the tea cups was easy to see. Even the pail was yukky. What an experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world! 


In contrast, only God can see what is inside us! Jesus saw that the Pharisees were hypocrites, that they were experts in making people feel guilty about small matters of the law, while they themselves neglected what was more important to God, loving our neighbor and putting God first. In Psalm 139, David wrote, “O Lord, You have probed me and You know me...You understand my thoughts...my journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways You are familiar.” 


Yes, God knows us inside out. We cannot hide from Him. He made us and we are His. We cannot fool Him. Just as He probes us, let us probe ourselves as well, observing what we need to repent of. What comes out of our mouth and heart? 


“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) 


“The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)


He loves us in spite of our weakness and sin. He is willing to help us be more than conquerors! 

Monday, August 03, 2020

Do Not Be Afraid

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27




When my son Josh was about 10 months old, he was so brave, he wanted to start walking. I was too scared to let him walk on his own, but my sister Peggy, would allow him to teeter on his own two little feet while holding one arm out to catch him, and one hand in front of him with a bauble he wanted to get a hold of. I watched in anticipation and trepidation as Josh put out one tiny foot after another, wobbling, but with a big big smile on his face at this new adventure of walking. After that, he would eagerly run-walk across a room while his babysitter would be ready to catch him should he fall.


The disciples had many exciting adventures with Jesus. In the 14th chapter of Matthew, we read about when they were on a storm tossed boat at night, the wind and the waves lashing at them. The disciples saw a man walking on the strong waves and became terrified because they thought it was a ghost. Imagine how Jesus would have appeared to them, with the storm wreaking a havoc of his garments flying in the wind. His voice rose above the howling of the wind, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water,” and Jesus answered, “Come.”


Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus, but when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Many times, we are caught in a situation like this. We feel we are sinking, drowning even. We call out to the Lord, “Save us!” My prayers during this pandemic are populated with the words, “ Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!” Have mercy on this or that person intubated in the hospital, have mercy on this or that doctor or nurse who has not been able to rest or see his or her family for weeks at a time, have mercy on people in squatter areas with no means of livelihood, jeepney drivers and street vendors who cannot make a living at this time. So many people in need of someone to put a hand out and save them. 


Although these are times that try men’s souls, these are also times when we can grow our faith. Like my son, we need to trust in those “saving arms” that watch out for us while we teeter and wobble. There is a God who is watching, He will catch us, He will save us. He will not allow us to drown. On the contrary, He wants us to look forward to new adventures with Him, as we trust in Him and learn of Him and His ways.



Sunday, August 02, 2020

Look at God

But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over. (Matthew 14:17-20)




We need miracles today. Many are hungry. Many are desperate. Businesses are closing. So many have lost jobs. The economy is barely surviving. Another battle is raging fast and furious on the health front. Doctors and nurses are overwhelmed with the need and desperation around them. One doctor said that 70% of our health care workers show signs of depression. 


A doctor posted, “Just came home from my 4 hour shift at the PGH command center. I am no stranger to 24-36 hour shifts, but this time.. I felt particularly drained. 


“I had to tell a grandson worried about his 90year old COVID positive grandma who's having trouble breathing at home that they will have to seek help at another institution because we are out of beds with oxygen.. 


“I had to ask a family to wait two more days before their father who needs dialysis can follow up again because our dialysis unit is backed up and can't admit any more new cases.. 


“I had to apologize to a daughter who tearfully asked if there was any more room for her mother who was intubated in a private hospital they could not afford anymore to try calling in the morning to see if any ICU beds have been freed up..


“I had to listen to a colleague gasping for breath as she makes her way to the ER alone to be admitted because her symptoms have gotten worse and it wasn't safe for her to quarantine at home anymore....”


We need a miracle worker who can make food for thousands from an offering of five loaves and two fish. What is God’s answer to a doctor who wants to give up, who is depressed, scared, drained because there is no end in sight and no help in the horizon? What is a businessman to do when he has loans to pay and no money coming in?


Where else do we look for comfort but in the words of the Bible? “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34) We need to take one day at a time. If we worry about the what if’s of the future, there will be no end to our worries and anxieties. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" (Matthew 6:25) If we stand on God’s promises, He will be faithful to take care of us. 


"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12) “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair." (Corinthians 4:8) 


Only in God can we find answers. If we try to find it within ourselves, or in our government, we will come up empty. Corrie Ten Boom, who went through so much suffering during the Holocaust and survived victoriously, proclaimed, “If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. If you look at God you'll be at rest.”


Saturday, August 01, 2020

Pray for Heroes


"Bring me the head of John the Baptist on a platter!" Matthew 14:8




The Gospel in Matthew is about John the Baptist and how he was unafraid to speak the truth even when Herod was a powerful man and a despot who liked to get his own way. Herod was brash and liked to show off, promising the young daughter of his mistress Herodias that she could ask anything from him after a dance that pleased him. After a consult with her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. John was beheaded. 


Did that silence John the Baptist? Many would say yes. But I believe he lived on in the consciences of many, including Herod himself, who I am sure, was haunted by the voice and the words of the man. In the beginning of the 14th chapter of Matthew we read that Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”


The truth will prevail and the truth will not die. Let us pray for heroes. Each one of us must be a hero. We have a calling to be prophets for our time. Are we clear about our mission and purpose? Do we know that we are called and placed here on earth, in our city, in our neighborhood, school, office, our family, community, because God wants us to do something for Him? We are all created unique, one of a kind, with gifts and talents different from anyone else. 


In Esther 4:14, Queen Esther was called to task by her uncle Mordecai. "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”




Friday, July 31, 2020

Spiritual Muscles

“And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” Matthew 13:58




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. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ”, St. Paul writes in Romans 10:17.


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 for 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!!!  

Thursday, July 30, 2020

His Masterpiece

“Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand...” Jeremiah 18:6




When we were young, my mom would gather my siblings and I to make clay figurines. It was a lot of fun forming whatever we liked out of the clay. Sometimes there were little stones we had to remove. Sometimes the clay was too hard, and we had to add water, to press and pull on it, even pound on it, to make it malleable in our hands. My brother Robert would come out with masterpieces that even now are displayed in a glass shelf in our family home. My little sister Tina made this tiny, tiny dog and a cart and we were wondering how we were going to sell it! Whatever we made, even my awkward clay pieces, my mom would make molds of them, and we would make duplicates and sell them in the stores. The tiny dog and cart was mounted on wood, and had a sign which read, “Caution: Working dog!” Amazingly, people got amused and purchased the absurd thing! 


God is a master potter. In the 6th chapter of Jeremiah, we read, “Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.” Sometimes the clay He uses is not malleable in His hand, and He has to add water, to pound it, and press it, and squeeze it, so He can re-form it into something better. Sometimes there are stones, even bits of leaves or stems that have to be removed. The thing is God is very patient and painstaking in making ang molding us. Sometimes it is painful for us, all this pounding and pummeling, but one day, we will see what God’s hand in our life has made of us. Each one of us is unique and lovingly made by the Master Potter. Each one of us is valuable in His eyes. If we are having a difficult time now, and it seems as if blows are coming from every side, let us continue to trust in a loving and faithful God who only wants the best for us. He will not quit on us, but will continue to stretch us until He is satisfied with His masterpiece. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Only One Thing

“Only one thing is required.” Luke 10:42




I am more of a Martha than a Mary in so many ways. Although I am seldom busy in matters of the household, I am never idle unless I am very sick. I tend to multi-task and it is not uncommon for me to be listening to a class on Skillshare and doing my work for Papemelroti. When Martha complained to Jesus about her sister Mary, He kindly reminded her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; only one thing is required. Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it." 


Jesus in His reminder to Martha tells us in no uncertain terms, that listening to Him is SO important. Sitting at His feet and getting to know Him and His words will produce more results than any labor we do. 


We can get so disheartened about life sometimes, maybe our work, or relationships gone bad, sickness, finances, what's happening in our country... But what can get us through any seemingly hopeless situation is not racking our brains for a solution, but prayer and reading the Word of God. I heard about this experiment with rats put in water. Some rats were in a dark room and they drowned right away. Others were in a lighted room and they kept swimming for about 72 hours more than the rats in a dark room. The difference? Hope.


Hope is not tangible. We cannot buy it anywhere. Same with peace. Same with joy. But we cannot live a blessed life without these gifts from God. Indeed to be surrounded by His favor, we need only one thing. 


Jesus' conversations with Martha and Mary have not been recorded, but we too can have our own conversations with the Lord. When we are bothered and upset about many things, Jesus calls us to have a conversation with Him. To sit at his feet. Dinner can wait. Worrying can wait. Only one thing is required. That we listen to him. That we believe. That is the only way we will see the glory of God. Yes Lord, I will listen. I believe! I want to see Your glory!


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Sure Win!

“Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom

all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Matthew 13:40-42




Many people do not believe in hell anymore. But here Jesus describes hell as a fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. We either believe Jesus, who gave up His power and glory to tell us this truth among many, or not. In the world today, many people prefer to make up their own ‘story’ about what will happen when we die. They do not like the idea of a fiery furnace so they reject it, saying how can a good God do that? Or they reject God Himself. Many believe that all religions will lead us to heaven or nirvana because one can find truth in all of them. But how is that possible when they contradict one another? 


Why have I decided to believe Jesus and what He says? When I was younger, I searched for God in all sorts of books and readings. But if we want to find God, we need only to read the Bible. “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5:39) Many atheists and agnostics have become believers when confronted with mathematical proof that the prophecies in the Old Testament could only point to one man, Jesus Christ. The odds of one man fulfilling just 8 of the 300+ prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Completely mind boggling, absurd and impossible. But one man's life fulfilled all the 300+ prophecies in the Old Testament!  No wonder Jesus said He wouldn't give us any more signs! There were more than enough signs. And there would be one more mind boggling sign when, like Jonah, Jesus was entombed for three days and rose from the dead! 


Sometimes we focus our energies and resources on all sorts of things. We want to become experts in this or that. We want to be the best in what we do, whether it be an insurance agent, teacher, or doctor. But we also have to think about what happens to us after we die. There is a treasure to be found even now which will endure when all our degrees, trophies and money will be worth nothing at all. Let us also spend time finding it! Life is not a gambling game, it can be a sure win! 

Monday, July 27, 2020

No Matter How Small

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’“ Matthew 13:31-32




In the world, we put value on big things. Dominant personalities who take up center stage, multi-national corporations, singers that can fill stadiums with fans, celebrities with millions of followers on social media. God on the other hand, seems to think differently. His parables are about small, ordinary things. The mustard seed, yeast, a fishing net, even a rotted loincloth in the first reading for today (Jeremiah 13:1-11). Jesus surrounded Himself with ordinary people, outside of the fringes of high society.  They were not rich, learned, nor eloquent. BUT they were able to change the world in a BIG way, just as a mustard seed can grow into a big tree, and the tiny yeast can make bread rise. 


In the first reading, Jesus taught the prophet Jeremiah through his lesson of the loin cloth, that if His people cling to Him closely, He will rejoice in them, help them and prosper them. But if they are wicked, refuse to obey His words, walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, and follow strange gods, they will be good for nothing. (Jeremiah 13:1-11) Let us allow God’s word to illuminate our path so that no matter how small we are in the world, we can change our corner of the world for the better in a BIG way. 


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Pearl of Great Price

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” Matthew 13:45-46




Have we found the pearl of great price? What are we willing to give up for it? 


Adoniram Judson, Jr. was a son of a minister, but upon developing a friendship with Jacob Eames, a devout skeptic and deist in university, he abandoned his faith and his parents’ religious instruction. Judson graduated as valedictorian from the College of Rhode Island & Providence Plantations (now Brown University) and everyone was eagerly watching what this bright young man would become. 


One day when he was traveling from afar to go back home, he arrived at an inn, and asked for a room. The man at the desk said there was no room available. As Judson was extremely tired after a long day on horseback, he asked that he might stay in the front parlor. The clerk then said there was one room, but the man in the next room was very very ill, and would shout and scream. Judson said he was willing to stay in the room next to the sick man as he was so very tired, he would probably sleep through it all. But it was not to be, the man next door was in such pain that his screams carried through the walls and kept Judson awake till the man suddenly quieted down. The next morning Judson inquired about the man, and if he was relieved of his pains. The clerk told him that the man had died, and that this man’s name was Jacob Eames. 


The shock of learning that the dying man was his old schoolmate who convinced Judson against his Christian convictions, was enough to bring him back to Christ. He eventually decided to be a missionary. He and his wife Ann went to Burma. By 1823, ten years after his arrival, he made 18 Burmese converts and had translated the entire New Testament to Burmese. He was able to translate the entire Bible to Burmese by 1834 and it was printed and published the next year. 


He died on April 12,1850, at the age of 61, after 37 years of back breaking missionary work, including 20 months imprisonment, and evangelizing in tiger-infested jungles. Adoniram Judson, Jr. found the pearl of great price, but he did not want to keep it for himself. He desperately wanted for others to find this treasure for themselves as well. 



Saturday, July 25, 2020

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

“We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7




Of the short stories in the book “Chicken Soup for a Woman’s Soul”, the one that impressed me was that of Mary Kay Ash. Like many women in the book, she had a hard childhood, a difficult time trying to earn a living, and although she made good sales for the company she worked for, it was the men who would get promoted. When her first husband divorced her, she was left with three children to support. We can say she was “afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed...”. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)


In 1963, after quitting from a job where women were not given the same opportunities as men, she started her own cosmetics company with $5,000.00 and her family backing her up. Her sons and her mom always said, “You can do it, Mary Kay.” They saw the gold in her earthen vessel.  Mary Kay’s company was founded not on competition, but on the Golden Rule, on praising people to succeed and on the principle of placing faith first, family second and career third. It was a company – as Mary Kay Ash would say – "with heart." Mary Kay died in 2001, but what she built lives on.


It is the Feast Day of St. James the Apostle today.  And it is so fitting that we read from St. Paul's 2nd letter to the Corinthians. Like St. James and all the other saints, we are 'earthen vessels', fragile, weak, easily broken. And like St. James, we hold the treasure of God's Spirit, something more valuable than any gold or precious metal. From a man of quick temper and selfishness, he became a man who traveled long distances to preach the good news and was the first of the apostles to be martyred for Christ. 


Let’s not forget we all have this treasure in earthen vessels. Sometimes adversity brings it out.  Other times we just need others to encourage us and say, “You can do it!” Nothing is impossible with God!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Carrot, Egg, or Coffee?

“The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.” Matthew 13:20-21




We will know that God’s word has fallen on the rocky ground of our heart, if at this time of tribulation and hardship, we stop trusting Him, we begin to feel hopeless, anxious, and try to hold to on our own strength to cope. If that is the case, we may continue to spiral downward into depression. We need to cling to our Father more, with every breath we take. If we feel lost, all the more we need to read His word all the time, so that we can stand surely on His promises. 


Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do these commandments, that it may go well with you...as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:3-9) 


God’s word is medicine for our mind and heart. Proverbs 4:20-22 reads, “My son, give attention to my words; incline thine heart unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For my words are life to those who find them and health to their whole body.” The Hebrew word for health also means medicine. 


During this time of the pandemic we can either be a carrot, an egg, or coffee. When boiled in hot water, a carrot becomes soft, an egg becomes hard, but coffee changes the hot water into a fragrant, delicious drink. Let us strive to change the environment around us with the fragrance of our hope and encouraging presence. We can only do that if we stand on the solid ground of God’s love and His enduring Word.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Blessed to See and Hear

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.

Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” Matthew 13:16-17




Don Schwager wrote, “God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges their need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach God's word with indifference, skepticism, and disbelief, then we, too, may hear but not understand and see but not perceive. God's word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. If we want to hear and to understand God's word, we must listen with reverence and faith.”


In the brutal war of Russia against the invading armies of Napoleon, Tsar Aleksandr Pavlovich resorted to going down on his knees in the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin. He kissed the holy relics and prayed for a miracle while Moscow was burning. According to one writer, God sent a “minor, minor prophet” in the form of a savage winter that ravaged Napoleon’s forces.


“The terrible sufferings of the French on their return march are well-known. There was even cannibalism, - a sure sign of apocalyptic times, - as the soldiers of the Great Army began to put their fellow-soldiers in the stew pots. Out of the vast army - nearly 600,000 men, only about half of whom were French - that set out for Russia, only 120,000 returned, 35,000 of them French. The Russians lost 400,000, but they had saved their homeland.” The Tsar had been humble enough to go down on his knees and acknowledge that they needed God’s help.


Today, here and now, we need God’s intervention. We need to go down on our knees to implore God to save us from this invisible but insidious enemy. May this pandemic draw us closer to God, eager to hear what He has to say.