Monday, May 17, 2021

Take Courage!

"In the world you will have trouble, but take COURAGE, I have conquered the world." 

John 16:33

There's no doubt about trouble! We all have it in one form or another! It's the way we deal with it that defines us!

Some act as if everything depends on them. And then there are those who know  there is Someone who never leaves them, the One who says, "Take COURAGE, I have conquered the world."

I have to confess I am of the second variety. In our business, we have to depend on God a lot because we are not anywhere near being “business expert"s even if we have been in business for more than fifty years. 

If we have problems of any kind, our solution is PRAYER! If our sales are low, we pray! If we have problems with the BIR or City Hall, we pray! If we have an employee that needs correction or dismissal, we pray! If we need to make a decision, we pray! So when this pandemic started, and we did not have any experience to base our next actions on, we prayed. Every single day. Together. 

God is our PARTNER in our business and we can take COURAGE in the future because Jesus has not only conquered the world, He has already taken care of the future for us! 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Treasure We Possess

This reading from Ephesians should have MANY exclamation points and capitals!

"May the EYES of your HEART be enlightened! that you may KNOW what is the HOPE that BELONGS to His call! what are the RICHES of GLORY! in His INHERITANCE! among the HOLY ones! and what is the SURPASSING GREATNESS of His POWER! for US who BELIEVE!" Ephesians 1:18-19

This is why we pray and read God's Word- to know the hope that is ours when we follow Him, the riches of our inheritance, the power we have when we believe!

If we don't have intimacy with God, if we don't know Him as our father, how can we claim what is rightfully ours as His sons and daughters? We would be like pitiful orphans, lost children. Of what value are promises if we don't claim them? What is the use of gold, riches, power, if we don't know they are ours?

There are many stories of people receiving an unbelievable inheritance from a long lost relative or even a friend. Sergey Sudev received 950 million euros from an uncle he had not seen in more than 10 years! Three abandoned Peladi children inherited 100 million dollars from their estranged wealthy grandmother. Waitress Cara Wood inherited $500,000 from a regular customer she was kind to. 

Who doesn’t like stories like this? But we ALL have a glorious inheritance we take for granted. And that is exactly what Paul is praying for, that our eyes be opened to see more clearly the riches we have in Christ! We do not have to die to possess this glorious inheritance. We can have it here and now if we read Jesus’ last will and testament, the Bible. He has given us all His secrets in order to possess the treasure we can possess in Him. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Passionately Curious

“He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.” Acts 18:26

In the 18th Book of Acts there is an encouraging story of a Jew named Apollos. Luke writes that he was an eloquent speaker, and an authority of the Scriptures. He spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he only knew about the baptism of John. What happened? When Aquila and Priscilla, co-workers of Paul, heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they called him and explained to him the gospel, particularly about baptism. Apollos listened well and the three became ministry coworkers.

Many times we do not want to share about God because we are not so learned about scriptures. Or we are insecure about what we have to say. Or we are afraid of being laughed at or ridiculed. But here we have Apollos who is eloquent and knows the Old Testament, and yet he was humble enough to listen to Priscilla, a woman, and her husband Aquila. This shows me that if we have the desire to share, God will meet us where we are. It does not matter if we are a new believer or someone who has been reading the Bible a long time. We all have something to learn, and we should be teachable. 

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden says, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” In Proverbs 26:12, we read, “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” And the brilliant Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talent; I am only passionately curious.”

Are we passionately curious about God and His ways? Are we teachable? God will meet us where we are and we will find a treasure worth more than all the gold on earth.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Eagles’ Wings

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go forth and bear fruit that will remain.” John 15:16

We are all chosen by God to be a part of His body, and just as the body has many parts, we too have different responsibilities and vocations. We may think that what happens to us, is coincidence or an accident, but I believe that God has a Master plan for each one of us. He does not usually show us what that is, just as a weaver does not reveal to the rug or tapestry what the final outcome is. The shuttle quickly flies back and forth, and the design is revealed slowly. 

The way eaglets learn to fly is very fascinating. When the mother eagle builds her nest she first finds thorns, branches, and other ragged and sharp materials for the first layer. And then she proceeds to cover it with a padding of wool, feathers, straw to make a soft bed for her eggs. She provides everything her babies need while they are growing, but when it is time to teach them to fly, she starts “stirring the nest”. She removes the soft layer to make it uncomfortable for her little ones. In this way, the mother eagle prompts her babies to mature and desire to fly. 

When we feel despondent that God is allowing discomfort and trials in our life, let us remember the baby birds. God our Father loves us, and has chosen us to bear fruit, to soar with eagles’ wings.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

In a Little While

Jesus said to His disciples, “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me." John 16:16

Jesus and His disciples certainly had some strange conversations! But after He died and appeared to them, some of those conversations became clearer.

I miss my mom very much, but that is tempered by knowing I will see her again. How terribly desolate I would be if I did not have this reassurance! There are so many people around the world in need of this assurance, that our life here is like a blink of an eye compared to eternity. One day, after in what God’s eyes is a little while, we will join Jesus and the loved ones who passed away ahead of us. 

But we do not have to wait to be with Jesus! We can be with Him all the time! He left us the Spirit to be with us always! “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

We just need to spend time with Him and not be so enamored of the things this world has to offer! We can't "see and hear" Him if we don't turn off the noises, the clamoring of this world, the urgent call of our long list of needs and things to do! Dear Jesus, help us to see You here and now. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

God’s Greatest Miracle

“What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you, the God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of Heaven and Earth...He fixed the ordered that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for Him and find Him, though indeed He is not far from any one of us." Acts 17:23-27

Paul said these words in Athens where he noticed so many temples dedicated to idols. One altar caught his eye, however, an altar TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Paul wanted to introduce this unknown God to the Athenians. And he chose the Areopagus, a prominent rock outcropping in Acropolis, Greece, in which to do it. We may not be an eloquent speaker like Paul, we may not be a missionary going to far reaches of the world, but we do have access to a modern day Areopagus where we can share about the goodness and greatness of God. The internet is where we can make our voices heard above the fake news, the confusion, the troubles and headaches of this world. 

Creation is God's first missionary. All of creation shouts out about God's majesty and power! “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20

 “Men go abroad to wonder 

at the heights of mountains, 

at the huge waves of the sea, 

at the long courses of the rivers, 

at the vast compass of the ocean, 

at the circular motions of the stars, 

and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

St. Augustine

 We, our human body, our minds, our soul, are God's greatest miracles!

I can't say it better than Louie Giglio in this video:

It's worth watching! At the end of the video he talks about how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), how we are made of 75 trillion cells, and that every 3 seconds, 50,000 cells die and are replaced by brand new cells! And how LAMININE, a cell adhesion molecule looks like a cross under the microscope. That is what holds our cells together, our body together! 

It's in the form of a cross! 

God left His signature on our bodies! Isn't that usually what an artist does?

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Power of Praise

“About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God...” Acts 16:25

There is power in praising God. Many times when I feel bad I sing songs to God, sometimes in my own words. It never fails to lift up my spirits. Here in Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas land in jail after freeing a slave girl from evil spirits. She was a fortune teller and brought much money to her masters which angered them because they lost their source of income. They dragged the disciples to the chief magistrates who ordered them beaten and thrown into jail. They were put in the innermost cell with their feet fastened to a stake. 

Did they mope and feel sorry for themselves? Did they cry out to God in desperation? Did they get angry at God thinking we are doing all this for You and this is our reward? No. They prayed and sang hymns of praise to God. The prisoners were all listening and the praise was so powerful there came a great earthquake which shook the foundations of the jailhouse!!! 

When we are more desperate than desperate, when all hope is gone, what should we do? Shake heaven with our praise! This is the message of a little 96-page book entitled “Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers. He had a very tough start in life, ending up in jail for a while, when he learned the powerful practise of praising God in all circumstances, especially the difficult ones. More than 10 million copies of this book has been printed and many who followed his example have had their lives transformed. 

Jean Underfel-Babalis said, “When I first got sober 32 years ago I found this book, it revolutionized my thinking, my life, and became the basis for my recovery. I’m convinced that this book was one of the primary sources that is responsible for my being clean and sober for the past 32 years. I learned the power of praise.” 

Kelly Davis shared, “I was in a cult when I first read this book 21 years ago. I was unhappy and felt very oppressed, victimized and never "good enough" . I figured I had nothing to lose so I tried it first on a nasty day when I had to stand out on a corner collecting money with a sore ankle . My praise was pretty sarcastic at first but as the day went on, I started noticing many subtle changes happening within me. I persisted and by the end of the day I felt a "joy unspeakable" I had never experienced before...I did it in faith and obedience to His Word. When I persisted in this, something broke apart deep within me and a stronghold Satan had on me for years started crumbling.”

Praise God for another secret! The power of praise! 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Saint Damien

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Damien Joseph de Veuster of Moloka’i. He was a Catholic priest who chose to live among the lepers quarantined in the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. He taught them the faith, helped them build roads, a school, cared for them, bound their wounds, ate with them, and dug their graves. With his leadership they built the Parish Church of St. Philomena 

which still stands today.

An American writer, Charles Warren Stoddard, was a witness to the changes Father Damien brought to Moloka’i. When he visited the first time before the priest arrived, the place was in squalor but when he returned, he found two villages with rows of white houses, a decent hospital, a graveyard, and two orphanages. 

One day, 11 years after Father Damien arrived, he realized he contracted leprosy when he spilled hot water on his foot and could not feel anything. He continued to serve there faithfully till his death in 1889. 

The people of Molokai wanted Father Damien buried in Molokai for he was one of them. He touched their lives, and cared for them. But he was originally from Belgium and the Belgians wanted their hero back. In 1936, his body was transferred to Belgium. The people of Molokai continued to petition, and in 1995, his right hand was returned to Moloka’i for burial. 

We may not have Saint Damien’s heroic unselfishness, nor his strength to sacrifice his life for others, but we too should find a way to touch the lives of others, to be Jesus to them. 

As Mother Teresa said, “At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in’.” 

During this pandemic, we have many opportunities to give food to the hungry. Parishes, schools, villages, neighbors, etc. have organized and set up community pantries. We can give our loaves and fishes and we can be sure God will multiply them. It is so heartwarming to see taho vendors, delivery boys, construction workers, giving what they can. 

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Keep the Fork!

“This is how God showed his love among us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.” 1 John 4:9

The Easter season is all about God’s love for us, how after this pilgrim journey here on earth, after the laughter and tears, the joy and the pain, the best is yet to come. I’ve been thinking about death recently because we have been praying so many novenas for dead relatives, friends, and parents of friends. Death on this side of the veil is heartbreaking. But that is not at all how God sees it. It is a homecoming, when He can open His arms and welcome His beloved sons and daughters to where they truly belong.

There was a pastor who told the story of a woman with a terminal illness. She was given only three months to live. When he visited her home to encourage her, he was surprised to find her quite excited and in good humor. She spoke to him of what songs she wanted sang at her funeral, what Bible passages to read, “and one more thing, Pastor, please make sure I am buried with a fork in my hand.”

Puzzled, he asked her why and she explained, “You know we always have potluck dinners? Well, when all the dishes of the main course are being taken away, someone always whispers in reminder, ‘Keep your fork.’ Of course we wait in anticipation for the best part, the deep dish apple pie, velvety chocolate cake or the creme brûlée!” She said with a twinkle in her eye, “I want people to see me in the casket with a fork in my hand and they’ll ask, ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them, ‘Keep your fork because the best is yet to come!’”

Sure enough during the woman’s funeral so many people asked him why she was holding a fork. And he had a chance to share about her very real excitement of finally getting to heaven. He said he could not stop thinking about the fork and neither were the relatives and friends who came to the wake. 

Keep your fork. The best is yet to come.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Holy Spirit Come

“...the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them." 

Acts 16:6

It must have been exciting to have known Paul, Silas, Timothy and the other disciples. They were just so full of enthusiasm and fire to go out and preach. They wanted to go every where! But sometimes the Holy Spirit would stop them. In the 16th chapter of Acts, in both verses 6 and 7, the Holy Spirit did not let them go to Turkey at that time.

Jesus promised in John 14:16 that the Father would send the disciples the Holy Spirit who would NEVER leave them. "He lives with you now and later will be IN you." (v.17) Jesus had to go so we could have His Spirit IN us. When Jesus was on earth, even if we followed Him everywhere, we would have to wait our turn to talk to Him. Now, even if I'm working in my craft room, I can talk to the Spirit and ask Him to guide me.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we read that Paul advises us to pray unceasingly. Prayer is a two way street. We should talk to God but we also need to listen to Him. We need the promised gift of the Spirit. As Jesus said in John 14:26, "He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you."

Kerry Davidson, together with her husband Joey, and two of her children, have been serving God in a marketplace ministry in Liberia since 2007. They run a coconut farm and eco-tourism company where they make disciples through employment in local villages where there are limited opportunities for livelihood. In Liberia, most of the daily work is done outside of the home. As Kerry and her family sat on their front porch they could see their neighbors washing dishes, doing their laundry, and cooking. They also watched while neighbors frequently shouted at each other, and sometimes would bring in the police to mediate in their violent squabbles. 

Kerry started praying for her neighbors one by one, that the peace of Christ would touch them. She says the Holy Spirit “moved into our community and we have not witnessed a fight since I started praying. There is no other explanation but God moving among us and bringing His peace.”

Yes Lord, pour upon me and my family the gift of Your Spirit! I pray that our lives will show evidence of Your Spirit in us! 

Friday, May 07, 2021

Love One Another

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” John 15:12

Jesus continues, “And here is how to measure it- the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.” After Jesus taught His disciples about love, and prayed, they crossed to the Kidron Valley where He was betrayed. 

Usually when I think about this self-sacrificing kind of love, the kind of love that Jesus had for each of us, I think of the larger than life saints like Maximillian Kolbe, who volunteered to die in place of another prisoner in Auschwitz. Kolbe was a hero many times over before he sacrificed his life for another in that Nazi concentration camp. And there are many other saints who sacrificed their lives in love for others. 

But there are ordinary people who live extraordinary lives as well. Ronnie Smith was a 33 yr. old chemistry teacher in Austin, Texas, when he and his wife discovered that Chemistry teachers were much needed in Libya. Ronnie decided to go in spite of the many warnings he received. “They’ll see you as an enemy! They’ll kill you!” 

“I don’t care,” he said, “My life is in Jesus’ hands, my after life is in Jesus’ hands. Even if they do kill me, I’m still going.”

After 18 months of teaching in the International School of Benghazi, four unidentified gunmen in a black Jeep shot him down in December 5, 2013. Two weeks later his widow Anita wrote an open letter that was spread all over the news. When she and her husband traveled to Libya, they saw the suffering of the Libyan people, “but we also saw your hope, and we wanted to partner with you to build a better future.” To the attackers, she wrote: "I love you and I forgive you." 

She came out on CNN, and told Anderson Cooper, “I just envision the black Jeep driving up to him and I don't know their faces. I just want them to know that God loves them and can forgive them for this. I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them, and Ronnie would want this, and I hope and pray that our son, Hosea, would believe this," she said. "Yeah, they took away my husband. I loved my husband. But it's got to be God's spirit that's pushing me to show them that this is what God wants them to see.” 

How do we love as Jesus loves? How do we forgive as Jesus forgives? Only by His amazing grace and Spirit within us! 

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

We are God’s Garden

“He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” John 15:2

I've never taken to gardening but my father took an interest in it when I was young, and he transformed the empty lot beside our house into a beautiful flower garden with brick walkways and meandering paths. We even had a little gazebo and miniature house. There was a lot of pruning and trimming, watering, mulching, and studying which seeds to plant where and when to do it. One had to control weeds, remove the old stalks and leaves and watch out for bugs, fungus and bacteria.

We are very much like plants. God is our gardener and He prunes us and trims us even if He knows it's painful, sometimes very painful. But like a good gardener, He picks the right time to remove the damaged stalks and rotting foliage that keep us from receiving more of His blessings and to promote new growth. He knows how much water or shade we need. 

Like plants, it is very necessary that we get nutrients, and that's why we need to pray and read the Bible. Plants also need supports like a trellis or an A-frame or stakes. We need community around, brothers and sisters to support us and help us to bloom. And  as for those weeds! Let's go to Jesus so He can pull out the weeds that distract us, crowding out what's really important in our life! 

Lord, help me to bloom and grow in Your light. Thank You for being my gardener and for taking care of me and my needs! Thank You for Your pruning so I can bear more fruit! 

Tuesday, May 04, 2021


 “Peace is my gift to you.” John 14:27

What is peace? Is it the absence of conflict, of war, of trials?  That is the world’s definition perhaps.  But Jesus’ gift of peace is not “as the world gives”.   I sometimes think that if only I had more faith, if I lived by faith, I would be free of problems, trials and challenges.  But of all the people who lived on earth, is it not true that Jesus had the perfect faith?  Was He ever free of trials and pain?  What He had was peace, and that is what He wants to give us.

 In Acts 14, after Paul was stoned by Jews from Antioch and Iconium, Paul and Barnabas encouraged the disciples, saying, “We must undergo many trials if we are to enter into the reign of God.”  There is no escape from the stresses and strains of life.  It is part of the warp and weft of the tapestry God is weaving.  I like to think of God weaving. I can see only the underside, with all its knots, and the mess of thread with discordant colors.  But all will be revealed at the end, when we will see how resplendent and intricate our tapestry will be.  Much more glorious than those beautiful ones found in the Louvre.  And longer and more amazing than the Apocalypse tapestry which runs 100 meters  and depicts scenes from the Book of Revelation! 

Today when we think of art, we think of painting and sculpture most of the time. Hardly do we think of tapestries which were the most valued form of art during the medieval ages.  But from the time of Adam to the present, God’s masterpieces have always been man and his life.  And just as beautiful art needs contrasts of dark and light, our life needs times of sorrow, pain and challenges to bring out the gold threads!  God knows this and wants to give us the gift of peace, the same peace that wrapped around Jesus during His life.  So let us not be troubled  and bothered by our trials. Let us just abide in Him who is our peace, and let Him do His marvelous weaving work in us! 

Monday, May 03, 2021

Still Do Not Know Jesus?

Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me?" John 14:9

I can imagine Jesus asking me the same question! Oh how frustrated He is! He has lavished me with love, blessed me and shown me His face! Here he speaks to Philip. This is the same disciple who in the 1st chapter of John asked, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" After being with Jesus for some time, he still did not know Jesus. 

"Whoever has seen me has seen the Father," Jesus explained patiently. "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?" Jesus said so much more, but with our own minds, perhaps we will never comprehend fully. We need the light of Christ to illumine His words, the Holy Spirit to breathe understanding into us (Job 32:9). But we must never lose hope. This Philip is now Saint Philip, whose feast day we celebrate today, along with Saint James the Apostle. He went on to preach in Greece, and Syria. Tradition has it that he was crucified upside down and continued to preach while thus tortured! I think we can say Saint Philip eventually got to know Jesus well enough 

to die for Him! 

Lord, yes You have been with me for so long. You are always faithful and have promised to never abandon me. You are my true friend because I know You want what is excellent for me, the very best. May I continue to get to know You more and more so I may serve and love You more and more. 

Sunday, May 02, 2021

I am the Vine

 "I am the vine, you are the branches." John 15:5

These words of Jesus, part of His farewell message to His disciples, are very powerful. If we can only understand the significance of this short phrase, we would be different persons. After Hudson Taylor contemplated these words, he considered his life "an exchanged life". Hudson Taylor wrote: “The Spirit of God revealed to me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before....I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but I am a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine is not the root merely, but all- root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit. And Jesus is not that alone- He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for and needed. Oh the joy of seeing this truth!"

Why was it so exhilarating for Taylor to realize this? Hudson Taylor had been a mighty missionary of the faith in China for several years but he had been exhausted and depending much on his own strength and resources. 

He had been striving for faith! 

He wrote in a letter about this discernment, "...It is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves! Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and your left poor? Or your head be well fed while your body starves? No more can your prayers or mine be discredited if offered in the name of Jesus!"

Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission and went through much suffering and challenges in doing so. His first wife and his second wife, and I don't know how many children died before him. His family was almost killed in a riot in China! His house burned down to the ground, nothing left! He had to depend much on God for providing not only for himself and his family, but also the mission. But God did provide! “The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No, it rests in union and communion with the vine; and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us abide in the Lord Jesus." When Hudson Taylor died, his second son, Howard Frederick said of him, “Christ was the reason for his peace, his power for calm."

Lord, may I abide in You, live wholly connected to You by Your love for me! 

Saturday, May 01, 2021


“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” John 14:8

My sister and her husband went on a pilgrimage through one of the routes of the Camino de Santiago a couple of years ago. The Way of St. James, as it is known in English, is a huge network of pilgrims' ways that leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. Tradition has it that the remains of Saint James the Great are buried there.

The scallop shell, found on the shores of Galicia, came to symbolize the way, and can be found in hundreds of posts and signs along the Camino as one walks or bikes the trails. The pilgrims look for the shell printed in yellow on a blue background to know for certain they have not lost their way.

We may not know it, but we are each on a pilgrimage. We may be comfortable where we are but we do not belong here. We are all taking our own route to our forever home. So we should also look for signs along the way, to make sure we are not lost. Just as Philip asked Jesus, “Master, show us the Father,” we too should be looking for our Father along the way. Jesus answered Philip, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

Along the Camino de Santiago, the scallop shell, or the Vieira, is the sign the pilgrims look for. In our pilgrim journey, we should always look to Jesus. Those who walk the Camino also carry the shell along with them on their journey. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

I am reminded of Steve Green’s 

beautiful song which goes: 

“We're pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road

And those who've gone before us line the way

Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary

Their lives a stirring testament to 

God's sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses

Let us run the race not only for the prize

But as those who've gone before us

Let us leave to those behind us

The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives”

The only way we will leave a heritage of faithfulness, is by looking to Jesus and 

following Him.

Friday, April 30, 2021

In My Father’s House

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” John 14:2

I like mining the Bible for the gold of God’s promises. One of the most reassuring are the verses in John chapter 6. “Let not your heart be troubled...In My Father’s house are many dwelling places...I go to prepare a place for you.” Who better to prepare a place for us in heaven than THE way, THE truth and THE life? Jesus assures us that as long as we place our faith, our hope, and our trust in Him, we have a place reserved just for us! 

The same goes for those who have gone on before us. I like telling the story of God’s faithfulness to me when my mom died. I thought I would be devastated when she left us. We were always together because from the time we went to daily mass at 6 am, then a visit to the Adoration Chapel, then went to the office together, we never ran out of things to talk about. My mom didn’t really want to go to Europe for a month, but she did it for me because she knew it was my dream. When my mom saw me crying because God had asked me to go to QC Jail and I did not want to, she promised to go with me if no one else would accompany me. She was not only my mother, she was my best friend. So when my mom got cancer, and it was getting worse, I knew I would have to let her go and we each had to tell her we would be all right. Never would I have imagined that the day my mother died God would give me the amazing grace of being ecstatic that at last, she would be with our Father who loves her best. 

There is so much heartbreak these days. We have never experienced so many deaths of people we know, people our children know. We can take comfort in Jesus’ reassurances, “Where I am you may also be.” We should always remember the truth that we are all pilgrims on a journey. Earth is merely a way station, a stop over, a terminal. We should not have too much baggage! Jesus did everything here on earth so that one day we can be with Him. Where He is, is the best place to be! But we can always carve out a space and time in the here and now to be with Jesus. Many things can distract us, but there is one certainty we can depend on. We are loved, we are precious, and neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). 

Lord, thank You for showing us the way. Thank You that we have a special place with You! Thank You that one day we will all be together again with the people we love and miss! 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Extraordinary Days

“The favors of the Lord I will sing forever.” 

Psalm 89:2

I particularly like ordinary days. I don’t like excitement, change. I especially don’t like accidents, people getting sick, losing jobs, fires. Of course! Who does?

But I also realize there are no ordinary days. Every day is extraordinarily extraordinary! We are on a journey around the sun, for goodness sake! Every year we go around this huge mass of hot 5778 K swirling plasma! And just like that, my perspective changes. I am surrounded by miracles. Nothing is ordinary! Not the cactus sitting quietly on a pot beside me. Not the skin on my fingers. When I get paint on it, I can easily clean it off. No stains! How do I hold on to this miracle of life? 

Like the psalmist, I should always have gratitude in my heart. I should open my eyes, my heart, my ears to the favors of the Lord. I should not concentrate on what can happen, what gives me stress, negative things people say. The heavens proclaim the wonders of God. I am His creation. So should I! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

God’s Promises

“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” John 12:44-46

This is one of Jesus’ promises. A promise is only as good as the man who gives it. It doesn’t matter if he signs a contract or shakes your hand, if a man has no integrity, the promise is worth nothing. All of Jesus’ promises are as good as gold in heaven’s bank. But like all money or bank certificates, we need to claim it. It’s ours, placed in our name because we are adopted sons and daughters of God, but we need to first, know about it, and then we need to claim it. 

A man who looked like a beggar was found dead on a Central Park Bench in New York City. When someone looked for his identity by searching his pockets, he found several uncashed checks amounting to a lot of money. I do not know if that story is true, but what is true is that there is almost $134 million worth of uncashed checks in the US Social Security Administration and millions and millions of dollars of unclaimed money in banks, life insurance funds, tax refunds, etc. I am sure it is the same in the Philippines. 

There is so much more unclaimed promises in the Bank of Heaven. Imagine how much Jesus’ promises are worth compared to earthly money that is really worth nothing when we die? We work hard for paper money. How much effort do we put in getting to know the Promise-Keeper and His promises to us? 

Lord, I want to get to know You more each day. I want to see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly and follow Thee more nearly, day by day, as it goes in a well known song. Teach me Your ways O Lord and do not allow me to stray far away from You. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Faith Matters

“... and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26

This is not the first time humanity has been in a dire situation for there have been many plagues and epidemics that have ravaged us throughout history. The Antonine plague in A.D. 165-180 may have killed over 5 million people in the Roman Empire and decimated their army. In A.D. 541-542, the bubonic plague killed almost 10% of the world’s population and marked the start of the decline of the Byzantine empire. Then there is the infamous Black Death in 1346-1353, seven years of devastation that changed the course of European history. Bodies were buried in mass graves. An estimated 500 million  people died from the Spanish Flu from 1918-1920. Some communities almost became extinct. And the list goes on. 

But wherever there is pain and trials, there the Christians go bravely. In one French account of a plague, it is written, “The nuns in one hospital, having no fear of death, tended the sick with sweetness and humility. New nuns replaced those who had died, until most had died. Many times renewed by death, they now rest In peace with Christ.” This selfless nursing tradition developed in the early years of Christianity. In his book, “The Triumph of Christianity”, sociologist and historian Rodney Stark makes the powerful case that the main reason why Christianity flourished while Roman paganism dwindled in the 1st to 4th centuries was because of the care Christians gave toward those who were sick and suffering. While well known Roman healers like the classical physician Galen fled the city of Rome for their country estates, benevolent Christians stayed and ministered to the sick and dying. 

Rodney Shark wrote, “What went on during the epidemics was only an intensification of what went on every day among Christians… Indeed, the impact of Christian mercy was so evident that in the fourth century when the emperor Julian attempted to restore paganism, he exhorted the pagan priesthood to compete with the Christian charities. In a letter to the high priest of Galatia, Julian urged the distribution of grain and wine to the poor, noting that “the impious Galileans [Christians], in addition to their own, support ours, [and] it is shameful that our poor should be wanting our aid.” But there was little or no response to Julian’s proposals because there were no doctrines and no traditional practices for the pagan priest to build upon…. Christians believed in life everlasting. At most, pagans believed in an unattractive existence in the underworld. Thus, for Galen to have remained in Rome to treat the afflicted during the first great plague would have required far greater bravery than was needed by Christian deacons and presbyters to do so. Faith mattered.”

Yes, faith matters, today more than ever. As Christians we are called to be loving, generous and merciful, like Christ. Many of our brothers and sisters are risking their lives every day serving in the front lines of this devastating pandemic. We ourselves may not be called to go out and tend the sick, but we can surely pray in faith, encourage one another, and give generously, as much as we are able, to those in need.