Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WOYWW: The Treasure is Us!

 What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday finds me
with all sorts of litter on my desk
that I have to get rid of!
Can you imagine painting on top of a pile of junk mail,
letters, newspapers, magazine pages, etc?
Well, that's what I am doing now!

Jesus' parables have many layers of meaning,
and the parable I am reading this morning is from 
Matthew chapter 13"
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure
buried in a field, which a person finds
and hides again, and out of joy
goes and sell all he has and buys that field."

The treasure is God and His Word.
We should buy that field (which is of much less cost
than the treasure buried in it!)
so that we will know what God has in store for us.

 Our inheritance as His sons and daughters is waiting for us!
There is nothing in this world
that can compare to the treasure hidden in the life with God.
That is why saints and martyrs through the ages
gave up everything to find that treasure!

 But the treasure in the field is also us!
We are God's treasures!
He gave up His only Son to claim us for His own!
We are valuable to Him, He made us,
and that is why He wants to rescue us
from the "field", the world, with all its sin and darkness.

It is the Feast Day of Saint Martha yesterday. 
She who had the audacity to complain to Jesus 
that her sister Mary was not helping her with her chores! 
She who chose the "lesser portion" of 
working while Jesus was around! 
The Lord then said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious 
and troubled about many things. 
But one thing is necessary. 
Mary has chosen the good portion 
which will not be taken from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

In John 11:19-27, during the wake of her brother Lazarus, 
she rushes out to meet the Lord. 
She left all her work, and there must 
have been much more to do 
as there were so many visitors condoling with them. 
She rushed out to meet Jesus and talk to Him, 
eventually declaring, "Yes, Lord, I have come to believe 
that You are the Christ, the Son of God."

To come to this realization, 
I believe that Martha took Jesus' gentle reprimand to heart. 
I believe that she too chose the good portion, the best part.
 I believe that she took the time to ponder, 
to pray, to put the things of God in her heart. 
The seed grew and her faith blossomed.

We too should choose the good portion. 
We should take the time to listen to God's Word, 
ponder it, plant it in our heart. 
Let's be prepared because God wants 
to show us amazing things!

I finished this funny looking thing yesterday.
What do you think I'll call him?


Monday, July 28, 2014

A Permanent State of Mission!

 I've been thinking a lot about what's happening in Gaza. 
God chose to give the Jews His revelation. 
They were and still are His chosen people. 
He has loved them and punished them 
for thousands of years. 
In Jeremiah 1:7, YaHWeH says to them around 600 BC: 
"Reform your ways and your deeds, 
so I may remain with you. I
f each of you deals justly with your neighbor, 
if you no longer suppress the resident alien, 
the orphan, the widow; 
if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place...
I will remain with you in the land I gave 
your fathers long ago and FOREVER."
That's pretty damning for the Jews today. 
Because they are the apple of God's eye (Zech. 2:8), 
and God promised to bless those who bless them 
and curse those who curse them (Gen. 12:3), 
we should "pray for the peace of Jerusalem. 
May they prosper who love you." (Psalm 122:6) 

Jesus told a parable of a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
In spite of this, weeds grew amidst the wheat,
and the servants asked if they should pull up the weeds.
"No," the master answered,
"If you pull up the weeds, 
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest." (Matthew 13:30)

The reckoning will come.
Not just for the Jews or the Hamas, but for all of us.
God sometimes allows us to do what we please,
but one day, we will be judged.
The Jews rejected Jesus and His teachings.
Let us pray that we will all get to know Jesus better,
and follow Him, so that we will not get caught up
in the Old Testament "an eye for an eye" mentality!
 "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 he has and buys it." 
Matthew 13:45-46.
Yes, the Kingdom of God is priceless. 
Even if we sell everything we have, 
we can't buy entrance into Heaven. 
But you know what? 
Jesus gave up all His glory and power 
to help us get into the presence of the Father, 
to be part of His family!
When we went to Hanoi, 
we took a tour to a pearl farm. 
The guide showed us that the pearls were hidden 
in these ugly, mud encrusted shells. 
They had to dig into all that muck to find the pearl. 
We too were encased in sin and darkness 
and Jesus was willing to give His life 
to ransom us from that hopeless fate.

We are God's treasure, His pearl of great price 
and He paid for us with the life of His Son! 
Sometimes we take Jesus' great sacrifice for granted, 
but if we only realize HOW MUCH God loves us, 
it would change the way we think and change our lives!

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like
yeast that a woman took and mixed
with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened."
Mt. 13:33

Pope Francis in his pastoral letter,
exhorts all of us, not just the clergy,
to be "in a permanent state of mission."
That wherever we are,
in our places of work, in our school,
our neighborhoods, our organizations,
we should be able, like yeast in dough, to permeate
and affect every environment we are in.

When my mother was alive, she would spend
her Sunday mornings speaking to students
who wanted to interview her about our business
for their school requirements.
After they finished with their questions,
she would say, "Now it's my turn."
She would ask what they believed in, 
and she would tell them about 
God and His good news for all of us.

She would talk about God, not only to students,
but to our suppliers, to BIR examiners
who tried to extort money form us, etc.

When I was young, I would roll my eyes
and think, "Here we go again!"

Now I realize she was merely doing what 
Jesus commanded us to do!

Pope Francis is a good example of 
someone who is permanently on mission.
He calls random people up,
he goes out at night incognito to
feed the hungry,
he joins the Vatican employees for a meal
in their canteen.
So should we too be more creative
in thinking of ways to permeate the world
with God's goodness and faithfulness!!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

PPF: Treasure in Earthen Vessels!

 "Two evils have my people done: 
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters. 
They have dug for themselves cisterns, 
broken cisterns, that hold NO WATER." Jeremiah 2:13
Imagine if you will, a people living beside 
a clean source of flowing, refreshing water, 
a river that will not run dry. 
That instead of drawing from this life giving water, 
they insist on building a cistern. 
A cistern is a waterproof receptacle usually used 
in an area with no source for water, to collect rain water. 
It should be kept clean for fear of contaminants from the ground.
In the same way, we usually make our own solutions 
to problems instead of turning to God and His Word. 
Just like the water in the cistern which can easily become dirty, 
 man's wisdom is often tainted with 
worldly ideas contrary to God's law. 
Let's make sure we draw from the source that never runs dry!

 It is the Feast Day of St. James the Apostle today. 
And it is so fitting that I read from 
St. Paul's 2nd letter to the Corinthians, v.7: 
"We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, 
that the surpassing power be of God and not from us."

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.
Nothing is impossible with God!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WOYWW: Me? A Prophet?

This morning I was reading from the Prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was called when he was a young boy,
and naturally he became fearful!

But God said to Jeremiah,
"Say not, 'I am too young', ...have no fear...
for I am with you..." Jeremiah 1:1-10

Like Jeremiah, I can imagine God saying the same thing
to me and to you:
"Before I formed you in your mother's womb,
I knew you.
Before you were born, I dedicated you,
I called you.
Say not 'I am too young', 'I am too shy',
'I am too insignificant', 'I am not smart'...

"Wherever I put you- in your office, in your school,
in your neighborhood, go!
Whomever I send you to speak to, speak!
Have no fear, for I am with you...."

 We have unique opportunities, unique talents
and resources. 
Yes, we too are called to be prophets
where we are, with what we have!
To prophecy not only means to predict the future
but also to reveal the message and the will of God.
So when we read God's Word,
and share it with others,
we can be God's prophet!

 Yesterday was the feast day of Saint Mary Magdalene. 
We should take heart because she 
who was saved from 7 demons by Jesus, 
and was not condemned by Him in spite of her many sins, 
is the most unlikely of saints! 
"Woman, why are you weeping?" 
Jesus asked her twice in John chapter 20. 
She didn't recognize him, 
thought he was a gardener, of all people! 
But then, can you blame her 
for not being very observant, or sensitive to God's presence? 
After all, she had just lost the One who loved her most! 
She felt lonely, devastated even. 
When she went to the tomb on that first Easter morning, 
it was still dark, but she could already 
see that the body of Jesus was not there.

When Jesus asked her, "Why are you weeping?", 

she answered in despair, "Please sir, 
if you have carried him away, TELL ME WHERE???"

 How many times are we like this? 
We cry, distraught, fearful, angry even, 
because of seemingly hopeless circumstances. 
We do not see God in our everyday. 
Just like Mary did not even give importance 
to the two angels sitting at the head 
and the foot of where Jesus had been laid. 
This was an allusion to the Ark of the Covenant, 
to the Mercy seat (Ex. 25:22).

When we are at our lowest, if we turn to the Lord, 
it can be the beginning of a new hope. 
The most desperate situation can hide the shining truth, 
that God is alive, and moving in our lives 
to bring us to the place we most want to be!

 "The wicked man boasts
there is no God." Psalm 10:4

 "You have been told, O man, what is good, 
and what The Lord requires of you: 
Only to do right and to love goodness, 
and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8