Friday, February 22, 2019

No Coincidence

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1




When my dad was very weak and always sleeping a couple of days ago, my sister called the Methodist Church in U.P. for a Pastor to administer the anointing of the sick. Yesterday, Pastor Apilado visited and prayed for healing. He said he wanted to write a book about my grandfather, D.D. Alejandro, who was elected in 1944 to be the first Filipino Bishop of the Methodist Church during the Japanese occupation. 




In 1915, after studying Philosophy in Asbury College in Kentucky, grandfather, or Lolo as I call him, was appointed District Evangelist for Bulacan and Nueva Ecija and became editor of the Tagalog monthly newsletter “Mabuting Balita” (Good News). He also became an instructor in Union Theological Seminary. 




Looking through Facebook after the Pastor’s visit, I found a picture of my Lolo reading, while he was in Asbury College. Before, I could just imagine how my Lolo would be surrounded by books in the library. Now I have a picture of him! A lady found the picture among many in an antique shop. Isn’t that amazing? That she took the time to search and find who would be interested in that picture? She posted it in the Filipino Methodist History page. 


I can’t help but think about how the Lord is our good shepherd who always watches out for us. He is the shepherd who always looks for the one lost sheep. No good thing is coincidence in our lives. It is not coincidence that after all the prayers for my father, he is getting stronger. It is not coincidence that led Pastor Apilado to my dad’s house. He said he was one of my Lolo’s students and he was honored to meet his relatives. How many times has the Lord shown up in different ways, every day, to guide us, to love us, to help us, to accompany us? We just need to open our eyes and see our good shepherd ever with us! 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thinking Like God

“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Mark 8:33




How does God think? First of all in Isaiah 55:8-9, He reminds us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Contemplating this gives me great comfort for I do not want a God who is as petty, as self-centered, as greedy, as I can be. Really, I need to study God’s Word more so I will think like Him. I need to spend time listening and not always putting words in His mouth. Can we ever hope to think like He thinks? 


The proof is in the lives of the saints and martyrs! And we can be sure He wants to make us saints as well (hopefully not a martyr!) In 2 Chronicles we read, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” Yes, my heart definitely needs strengthening for I am so obviously a coward! These days, I can see that heroes of the faith are needed and God is ready, even eager, to work more powerfully than ever in the lives of His people! Indeed, the world is watching to see what God can and will do in a life fully surrendered to Him! 




We can take God’s reassurance to St. Paul as our own: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." St. Paul concludes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Ark

“Noah built an altar to the Lord.” Genesis 8:20




It says in Genesis that when God smelled the sweet odor of Noah’s burnt offerings, He promised that He will never again destroy all living things. He made a covenant with Noah and his sons and he set a rainbow in the sky as a sign of that promise. 


When I see the evil around the world, I wonder if all that is keeping God from destroying us is His promise. Surely he hates the hundreds of thousands of His little children killed in the womb. Surely He abhors the tens of thousands of extrajudicial killings and the homicide cases under investigation here in the Philippines. What about plunderers and thieves and liars going scot free and running for Senate positions? 


But just like in Noah’s time, God has provided a safe haven, a bulwark, an ark, for His people. Noah and His family were saved from destruction in the safety of the ark. The Church, the barque of St. Peter, is also our safety. 


St. Augustine, in the “City of God”, compares the ark of Noah to the body of Christ. He said that just like Noah and his relatives entered through the door at the side, we enter the Church through the side of Christ, which was pierced pouring forth blood and water, symbolizing our baptism and the Eucharist. 


In Genesis 7:16, we learn that it was God who closed the door to the ark to keep the family and animals inside. Is it not God who ensures our complete safety and well-being within the body of Christ? 


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Holy Spirit

“Do you still not understand?” Mark 8:21




It seems amazing to me that the Lord’s chosen disciples who were with Him day and night could not understand what He was teaching them and preparing them for. There are so many passages where it says they could not comprehend what Jesus was talking about. Perhaps they were all scratching their heads in confusion!


What hope is there for us then? The difference is He has given us His Holy Spirit. I looked up what His Spirit does for us. In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised that when He leaves, the Holy Spirit will come and the disciples will receive power. There are verses in Romans which tell us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress and can pray for us. (8:26) Jesus assured His followers that if we love Him and obey Him, we will be given an Advocate, Helper, Comforter, and Counselor, who will never leave us, and will guide us into all truth. (John 14:15-15) The Holy Spirit can also speak for our defense if we are ever caught in a tight place in our work for Him. 




There is no limit to what we can understand if we tap into the power of Jesus’ Spirit! So we should not have any doubts. It is the enemy that sows doubts. Jesus came to do one thing, and He finished it. When He left earth, He sent His Spirit of life, truth and love. That is why nothing is impossible to us. We need only to believe. 




We can see what Jesus’ disciples did after He left them. A bunch of doubters and cowards turned into staunch defenders of the Gospel. Most of them ended up as martyrs for the faith. Today, we are able to do so much more, to reach more people than they ever did. We just need to use His Power, tap into His Power! 

Monday, February 18, 2019

How Many Loaves Do You Have?

 "How many loaves do you have?" 

Mark 8:5




Here in chapter 8 of Mark, Jesus is moved with pity for the great crowd of people. He did not want to send them away hungry. “How many loaves of bread do YOU have?" Jesus asked. The disciples had seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Jesus took the bread and fish, gave thanks, broke them and had the disciples distribute it all. After every one of the crowd of 4000 ate and were satisfied, there were fragments enough to fill over seven baskets. 


I just arrived from the Walk for Life in QC Circle. We marched around the circle to voice our support for life, and to protest the extrajudicial killings, the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old, corruption and other ways our leaders have not upheld basic human rights. 


Archbishop Tagle gave the homily during the mass and he said that it really depends on whose hands the bread and fish pass through. Seven loaves and a few fish were more than enough to feed 4000 people because Jesus was compassionate and full of pity for the hungry. BUT 4000 loaves of bread and fish will not be enough to feed seven people if the food passes through the hands of greedy, uncaring, corrupt, and unscrupulous people.


“How many loaves do YOU have?” Jesus asks. Let us make sure that whatever we have, we let it pass through Jesus’ hands so we can see miracles!

Blessed are You who Mourn

“Blessed are you who mourn, you shall laugh.” Luke 6:21




“This too shall pass” is something I tell myself when I am experiencing some hardship. My 92-year old father, who is usually so busy thinking of new projects, directing people what to do, even when he is stuck in bed, was sedated with morphine because of UTI. It’s very difficult for us to see him so thin, sleeping the day away, waking up groggy for a few seconds, unable to eat anything. He asks God to take him already in his sleep as he is frustrating to live like this. 


I remember when my mom was on her deathbed and I was scared I would be devastated when she left us. Instead God gave me a glimpse of heaven so glorious, I was ecstatic when my mom died. 


It may be hard to think of this life with all its pleasures and pain to be transitory, but it is. It is but a blink of an eye, a fragile bubble, compared to life in the heavenly Kingdom. God allows us to experience hunger here, for we should hunger after the eternal. God allows us to mourn for there is so so much to mourn about here on earth. God allows us to be poor, so we will learn about the real treasures not to be found on earth. 


We should never be satisfied with what this world has to offer, for we will leave no room for God and His gifts which come in forms we do not expect. 

Sin Lurks

“Sin is a demon lurking at the door. His urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.” 

Genesis 4:7




The story of Cain and Abel shows us what pride and resentment can lead to. Cain and Abel both made offerings to God. God looked with favor on Abel’s offering but not on the fruit of the soil that Cain brought Him. We do not know the exact reason why and can only speculate, but if only Cain asked God why and learned from it, we could have learned too! Instead, Cain attacked his only brother and killed him. 


The enemy is very cunning and as the verse says, he lurks at the door. He is always waiting to attack and destroy us. We won’t know when, how or from where, but we can be sure, there are always plans afoot to destroy our families, our church, our country, any good there is anywhere. 


We must stay vigilant, as it says many times in the Bible. And we must never lose hope. God is victorious. He is in control and He waits with us. We wait for evil to expose itself. Although evil thrives in the darkness of lies and deception, it cannot help but expose itself because of its pride and arrogance. Evil likes to make a display of its power and all its minions, all those who fall into its trap. But when it exposes itself, we can be sure it is doomed to destruction. 


We need only to look to history to see how evil men enabled by sycophants, rose to power and notoriety, only to be destroyed by their own greed and ambition. But see the Church, with enemies without and within, has stood for centuries as Jesus promised. “Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18


Let us stay in the light, at the side of God, and wait with Him, and fight with Him. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Rebellion

“Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” Genesis 3:1




Regardless of whether or not we believe in Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, we can still learn a lot about the anatomy of sin and evil if we study the story. Many don’t believe in the devil either, but that’s exactly what the enemy wants and we play into his hands when we disregard him in our life. It is best that we do not engage him in dialogue because he is wily and deceiving and wants to lure us to his side at all cost. 


God’s laws are for our good, but the enemy, if we listen to him, will make it seem like God is unfair, and wants to restrict our freedom. The enemy insinuated to Eve and to all of us even today in his subtle way, that God’s laws are severe, and unreasonable. If so, he wants us to think, violating them is warranted and justifiable. 


We are surrounded by God’s goodness and faithfulness all the time. The deception of the enemy is that God is exacting and we should break free of all restrictions. Eve thought it was a clever move on her part to eat of the fruit of good and evil, thinking she would be like God and have her own kingdom. Instead of freedom, she was caught in the bondage of shame, guilt, and was thrown out of the garden and everyday fellowship with God. 


Today, many people choose to exercise freedom by taking drugs, drinking in excess, having sex outside of marriage, killing their own babies, cursing, lying, stealing, killing, etc. When we do this, we think we are kings and queens in our own kingdom, but whatever wrong we do will destroy us. 


Father, help us to see big and small rebellions in our lives that lead us away from you. Help us to regain our freedom which can only be found in fellowship with You. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Crumbs from the Lord’s Table

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Mark 7:28




This is one Bible story I am not very happy about. A Syrophoenician woman went to Jesus on one occasion, fell at his feet, and begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. I assume that it was because she was not a Jew that Jesus answered the cryptic: “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children to throw it to the dogs.” 




If I was this poor woman, would I have understood what Jesus meant? It was like a puzzle, a mystery that required the right answer. Fortunately, the mother had the “missing piece” she needed. She answered, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”


Dogs? Dogs!!!! Even if Jesus meant puppies, or beloved pets of the household as some commentaries explain, it was still an insult. But this woman did not mind the rejection. She was humble, she was focused, she was persistent, she was resolved to get her daughter healed. I think before approaching Jesus, she asked questions about Him, “researched” in a way. Who was he? Was he really a healer, a miracle worker, prophet? Along with the tidbits, she learned He was a Jew, and some called Him the Messiah who came for the chosen people. That’s why she knew the “winning answer”!




In Matthew 15, we learn that she calls Him, “Son of David”, a title for the Messiah. She knew that the Messiah would come to save the chosen people, the Jews. That’s why she did not protest when He said He came to prepare a feast for His people and it was not right to give the food to the “dogs”, what the Jews usually called the Gentiles. 


Jesus said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” Oh, happy day when our prayers are answered! Do we know how to approach Jesus? We need to be humble, focused, persistent and resolved. Ever since the early Church, the people of God prayed back to God the Words He had given them. We NEED to know God and His promises so we stand on sure ground when we pray. 


Sometimes we do not understand when God is silent, when God seems deaf to our cries. Perhaps He is trying to draw out the genuineness of our faith. Perhaps he is testing us so we learn perseverance, endurance, we learn not to give up.  


Give us, gracious Father, crumbs from Your Table, and we shall be saved. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

WOYWW: What Comes Out


Here’s what’s on my table: my new Journaling Bible, interleaved edition. I got it before Christmas but I just gathered enough nerve to use it today. It’s got a blank page every other printed page. Somehow I thought without the words for a background, the painting won’t come out as nice. Also I am not confident at all about my lettering!



“What comes out of a man, that is what defiles him.” Mark 7:20

And here is what Jesus further said: “From within the man, from his thought life, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” 

Yes I must confess that sometimes my thought life disgusts me, when I think too much about myself, or when I am judgmental and self-righteous. Our thoughts can be like mad dogs, if we don’t reign them in at the start with a forceful tug, they will run away and it’s hard to catch them! 

Instead of complaining, Lord, may praise and gratitude come out of my mouth. May I have contentment in my heart, never envy or any malice towards others. Instead of pride, arrogance or a sense of entitlement, may humility and a desire for the best for others reign in my being. In all circumstances may I have an undisturbed joy, not anxiety or worry. 



May I not be blind to my faults and failures, so I can regularly align with Your will and purpose for my life, amen. 


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

Blessings!

Patsy  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

In His Image

“God created man in His image.” Genesis 1:27




What a beautiful amazing gift that God created us in His image and likeness! I don’t think we can find this truth in any other religion or belief. 


We have so much potential in us, so much capacity to create, invent, compose, think. We can exert our human body to its limits and we have not even reached the frontiers of what we are capable of. It may not feel like it, but the human brain’s memory storage capacity is around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes), according to Paul Reber, a professor in Northwestern University. 




But because God gave us free will, we have abused our freedom. I cannot imagine how some sane, intelligent people think it is ok to allow babies in the womb to be killed legally! Shouldn’t those babies be protected and given the same rights we have? Those babies have so much potential, so much capacity to create and think, and could one day, give the answer to one of mankind’s innumerable problems. 


Who gave man the power over life and death? How can anyone declare that just because a man or woman is a drug user, that person is useless, a dreg on society and will never change? 


There is so much in a person we will never understand. Joe Dean Sola was a drug user who used to burn Bible pages for his marijuana. His ambition was to become a druglord. What is he now after God’s finger touched him? He has saved hundreds of children from a life of crime and prostitution in the streets of Manila. How about John Pridmore who was a former angry East End gangster who couldn’t spend the money from his drug dealing faster than it poured in? Now he speaks to millions of young people around the world about God’s love and forgiveness. He even spoke in World Youth Day in Sydney in 2007. 


We should never give up on people. We need to encourage, we need to forgive, we need to believe, not only in others, but in ourselves us well. 


Sunday, February 10, 2019

I am Your Father

“The Lord will complete what He has done for me...” Psalm 138:8




In my other Bible, this is what it says: “The Lord will work out His plans for my life- Your faithful love, Your kindness endures forever.” Indeed this is true for me, I can attest that God provides whatever I need. He will fill what I lack. 


This morning, as I quieted my heart to listen, I felt Him saying: “Come and be comforted. When you are tired, in need of replenishment of your resources, I have an unlimited supply. When there is a job you need to do and you seek wisdom, I have an unlimited supply. If you need healing for your heart or body, there is healing in My wings. If you need a shelter from the storm raging around you, come and I will protect you. If you are caught between a rock and a hard place, I will give you escape. I am Your Father. There is nothing I will not do for you. Just trust. Seek to find me in the storm, in the difficulty, in the trial, in the questions. I am your Father, first and foremost. I was there in the beginning, in the middle, and I will be there in the end.”

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Come Away

“Come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31




What a wonderful invitation this is! When we’re in bed, and we find out, there’s no reason to get up yet because we woke up too early, it’s such a delicious feeling. When we are on a lazy vacation, with no place to rush to, and someone else is taking care of our job, that’s even better. 


Here, Jesus invites his twelve apostles to take a breather after He sent them off on a journey to bring the good news to people far and wide. When they got back they were so eager to tell their stories, about all that happened, all they did. Many people were surrounding them, coming and going. They did not even have an opportunity to eat. So even if there was still so much to do, many people in need of healing, and many who needed to hear the Word of God, Jesus brought the Twelve to a deserted place to rest. Even God the Father rested on the seventh day. (Genesis 2:2)




So even if we still have lots of things to do, it is important to take time off to be restored, to be filled with the good things God wants to give us. Whatever time we give God is never wasted. Let us remember to waste one day out of our week for God, take time to be with Him, to delight in Him, to rest in Him. 

Friday, February 08, 2019

St. Josephine Bakhita

“The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6




We have only one precious life to live. Will we give it back to the One who loves us best, or will we live it with no concern for the purpose for which we were made? We may have a difficult life, but we can still live it for God. We celebrate today the Feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita. She is the first Saint from Sudan and was canonized in the year 2000 by Pope John Paul II. 


Josephine was born into a prestigious and prosperous family but when she was about 7 to 9 years old, she was abducted by Arab slave traders and was sold and re-sold five times in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum. She was beaten by her masters, and from one of those beatings, could not move from her bed for a month. A total of 114 intricate patterns were tattooed on her body while her mistress was watching with a whip in hand. 


The Italian Vice Council who bought her, brought her to Italy and there she became nanny to a young girl named Mimmina. When the mother needed to meet her husband in Sudan, Josephine and Mimmina were left in the care of the Canossian sisters in Venice. There, Josephine first learned of Jesus and was enamored. "Those holy mothers instructed me with heroic patience and introduced me to that God who from childhood I had felt in my heart without knowing who He was,” she wrote. 


When Mimmina’s mother came to take them away, Josephine refused to leave, and an Italian court had to intervene. Slavery was outlawed in Sudan before Josephine’s birth and Italian law did not recognize slavery. Josephine chose to remain with the Sisters, entered the novitiate and took her vows. Her life was marked by a heart for missions, and an ever-present gentle smile. 


When asked what she thought of those who kidnapped, flogged her and kept her a slave, Josephine said, “If I were to meet them, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and religious today.” 


One life to live. Do we give it to God? 


Thursday, February 07, 2019

Pilgrim Journey

“Take nothing for your journey...” Mark 6:8




Although this was Jesus’ instructions to the twelve disciples when He sent them off to preach, we too need to remember that we are pilgrims. Our life here is a journey as well, and whether we like it or not, we cannot take anything with us when we finally reach our destination, except our relationships. It is a wise man who realizes this and invests in heavenly treasure. 


If we have money, we have to find ways to invest it. If we have a house, we have to be careful that termites or rot won’t destroy it. If we have a business, there are a million and one things to be mindful of. If we have neither of those things, our cares and burdens aren’t any less. What did Jesus say? “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)




If we do not hand over our cares and burdens to the Lord every day, if we think all of it depends on us, we can get desperate, helpless and hopeless. Let us learn from Jesus, and find the rest He longs to give us. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

WOYWW: Whom the Lord Loves

This is what is on my desk today. 
My Bible, my meditation book, and the brushes, paints, and brown pencil 
used to make the painting on my Bible. 
Below is the altered picture using the Prisma app. 



“Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines.” 
Hebrews 12:6



This is quite easy to understand. As parents, we see the need to discipline a wayward child. We set down rules about sharing, telling the truth, no bullying, studying before playing, etc., and when rules are disobeyed, there are corresponding consequences. God set down laws as well, and when we do not follow, there are repercussions. 

Many atheists always say they do not believe in a personal God who loves us. They ask how can an almighty powerful God who sees everything and can prevent evil, permit the horrors of the Holocaust and the wars and sexual slavery and the like. This has been debated for hundreds of years and will continue to be a hot topic that will not go away. The thing is the holocaust and all the evil in the world did not happen overnight and was not perpetrated by a single person. When does an atheist expect God to put a stop to evil? Each one of us was given the awesome gift of free will. Each one of us has the freedom to sin and alternately, to listen and follow God. Does an atheist expect God to stop a person from thinking he is better than others, is more entitled than others? Just as the Kingdom of God starts as a little mustard seed and grows into a tree, so does evil start from a tiny little thought. 

In the letter to the Hebrews, the writer reminds us to endure our trials as discipline, for the fruit of discipline is righteousness. Moreover we should “make straight paths for our feet”, in other words, decide to pursue what is right and true. We should also “strengthen our drooping hands and weak knees”. I read from “The Anawim Way”, that means to recommit ourselves to the hard work of prayer, lifting our hands to God and kneeling before Him in humility and adoration. Let us put a stop to the spread of evil in our own turf by not allowing unrighteousness, deception, the culture of death, and corruption, find a foothold in our midst, and by speaking out against it. 


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

Blessings!

Patsy