Saturday, June 30, 2018

Faith Muscles

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 29, 2018

Jaws of Death

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Building on Rock

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

WOYWW: By My Fruit

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

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

I so enjoy helping people bring out their creativity! 

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Listen to Me

“Listen to me, O Lord!” 2 Kings 19:16

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

All the Chances

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

God-given Purpose

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

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


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

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

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

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Mess Makers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Good Investment

 "Where your treasure is, there your heart is also." Matthew 6:21

Everyone loves a good investment, don’t they? And we hate it when we lose money! The stock market today in the Philippines is experiencing an alarming downturn. I don’t even want to look at how low the value of my stocks have gone. 

In the 6th chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives us His financial advice, His divine blueprint for estate planning. "Do not lay up for yourselves earthly treasure." Earthly treasure is not going to last, it can be stolen, burned, it can rust and devalue. Instead we should make it our practice to to store up heavenly treasure. We can think of storing heavenly treasure as buying stocks in heaven. The difference is it's not going to devalue, the price won't go down! Whatever we invest is going to go up, up, up! But how can we buy Kingdom stocks? What is of value in heaven?

Jesus told the story of the pearl of great price in Matthew 13. When a merchant found the pearl more beautiful than all the others, he sold all his possessions to buy it. What is it that Jesus was willing to give up everything for? Jesus bought us, the pearl of great price at the cost of His very life! He became a man, left His power and glory in heaven, just so He can give us His greatest gift, eternal life in Heaven with Him.

Saint Lawrence is one of my favorite saints. When asked by the Prefect of Rome to turn over the treasures of the Church, Lawrence went throughout the city and gathered together the poor, the lame, the blind, the sick. Then he presented them to the greedy Prefect. "Here are the Church's treasure!" he announced. The Prefect was not amused and the saint was roasted over an iron grill!

We need not follow Saint Lawrence to buy stocks in heaven, but we should remember that if we use our time, talent and money to bring people to God, we are investing in what God values most! 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

My Father Knows

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8

Before you EVEN ask Him. We may not pray like we need this, but the ONE most important thing we need is a SAVIOR! My prayer list is quite long, including intercessions for my family, friends, my country, brothers and sisters who are sick, the crisis in Nicaragua, etc., but not one mention of me needing someone to save me. I do not have to ask for a Savior, God already provided Jesus long before I asked. 

The whole of His story in the Bible is primarily how much He loves us, and provides the perfect sacrifice required by His holiness, righteousness and justice. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have a single, solitary chance to enter heaven, a place where there is no sin, no spot, no blemish, no rotting, no decaying, no aging, no poverty, no want. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are made holy once for all time (Hebrews 10:10). His blood is our entrance ticket to heaven if we but accept it. 

We can be confident if God provided this most essential of our needs, He will also make a way to answer our other needs as well. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” So I will keep asking for what is in my prayer list, confident God has my perfect good in His heart. He desires to give us all that most wonderful of gifts, fullness of life. Sometimes His answers are wrapped in painful or perplexing circumstances, but if we keep in faith, we will see that God is weaving a most amazing tapestry for each one of us. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

WOYWW: War Room!

Started out with these magazine pages. 

I have to close her eyes!

“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” Matthew 6:6

I am reminded of a story of a little boy saying his bedtime prayers beside his mom and grandma. He started by mumbling, “Thank You for my parents, my grandma and my brothers and sisters. Thank You that I passed my math exam...” then he ended by shouting, “and please may I get a bike for Christmas!” His mom asked him why he was shouting. “God’s not deaf!” she said, and he responded, “No, but Grandma is!”

We all have our little quirks when we approach God. Before Him, we are naked. We cannot pretend to be who we are not. He knows exactly who we are, what we are capable of, what we can be. He knows our foibles, our idiosyncrasies, our weaknesses and strengths. Here is a God who knows us inside out and loves us anyway. We are precious in His eyes, whether we are a heroin addict, a foul mouthed President, an inmate in the bloodiest prison in the country, or a harried mother too busy to pray. I can see Him waiting for us to come to Him. 

It is inconceivable, that kind of love! Here Jesus is telling us that the Creator of the Universe has time for us. One-on-one time. He wants to be alone with us. He waits. No cellphone. No one to tell us our time is up. He waits for us to tell Him about our day, our frustrations, our battles, our victories. What a comfort it is to tell Him of our sins, our burdens, and have Him carry it for us to Calvary. 

Our prayer room can be our war room where we battle against cancer, against the crisis in our country, against the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It can be our sanctuary in the storm, a place of rest where we can claim our Father’s promises of restoration and peace beyond understanding. For me it is a place where God reveals His inexhaustible treasures. 

Thank You Lord for one-on-one time with You! 

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


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

As Far as the East is from the West

“Have mercy on me, O God, in Your goodness; in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offense.” 

Psalm 51:1

In High School I had to memorize a portion of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, the part where Portia proclaims, “The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: ‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown: His sceptre shows the force of temporal power...But mercy is above this sceptred sway; It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God's when mercy seasons justice.” 

Here Portia, disguised as a lawyer, is telling the court that Mercy must be freely given. It should not be constrained or forced. When we show mercy we not only bless the recipient, but ourselves as well. And when a powerful man shows mercy, he becomes most like God. 

Indeed all of us have greatly sinned against God by rebelling against Him. We were created in His image and to be in effect, mirrors of His glory. When we sin, we smudge that mirror. Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." 

But no matter how smudged and dirty, and even broken our mirror is, God in His mercy can restore it for us. So great is His compassion and love for us, that when we come to Him for restoration, He will remove our transgressions “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Listen to My Groanings

“Lord, listen to my groaning.” Psalm 5:1

The whole book of Lamentations in the Bible is a funeral song written by the prophet Jeremiah. He was an eyewitness to the devastation of Jerusalem. Jeremiah wanted to record the destruction in vivid detail to warn future generations of what would happen when a people willfully disobey God and fall into sin.  

“Lord, see my anguish! My heart is broken and my soul despairs...My groans are many, and my heart is faint.” Lamentations 1:20-22

In Lamentations, Jeremiah speaks of how the leaders of Jerusalem deprived the people of their rights. They perverted justice in the courts.  “Do they think the Lord did not see it?” Lam. 3:36

Jeremiah cries out: “Lord, remember everything that happened to us. See all the sorrows we bear! Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. We are orphaned and fatherless...Why have you forsaken us? Restore us O Lord, and bring us back to You again.” Lamentations 5

Like Jeremiah, let us bring our groanings to the Lord. Just as an eagle does not fight his enemy, the snake, on the ground, but takes it up into the air, where he is weak, we too should take our battles into the spiritual realm where our enemies are powerless. 

Whatever it is we are groaning to the Lord for, He will fight for us. The battle is not over yet. “The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Mustard Seeds in My Hand

“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God...It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.” Mark 4:30-31

Mustard planted today could begin growing tomorrow. It is a very tiny seed, but it has to be scattered by the farmer. It has to fall to the ground. A seed held in the farmer’s hand has no chance of growing into a bush. 

All of us are given gifts by God. Most of these gifts are very small and to our untrained eyes, quite insignificant. “What is in your hand?” God asked Moses in Exodus 4:2. Moses had a shepherd’s staff, an everyday thing during his time. “Throw it to the ground!” God told Moses, and it became a snake. Moses used his staff to perform signs that gave God glory. 

We too have some insignificant things in our hands, but if we “throw it to the ground”, it can grow from tiny seeds to shrubs scattered across the desert, life-giving, and beneficial. It even grows in the desert. 

Whatever we have in our hand, however small or insignificant, we should offer to God. We will be surprised at what He can do when we open our hand and let our money, time, gifts, talents, abilities, or influence, fall to the ground of God’s field. Moses had his staff, David his slingshot, the little boy had loaves and fishes, Mary in Luke 10 had time. God took all of these ordinary, every day things, and used them to build His Kingdom. 

Lord, show me what I can offer You. Show me what You can use. I know You will bless and prosper everything I give to You. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Set the Lord Before You

“I set the Lord ever before me...” 
Psalm 16:8

Life is hard. We have decisions to make, unpleasant people to face, challenges we don’t know how to overcome, situations that are beyond our scope of influence but directly affect us. How do we deal with all of this? How do we set the Lord ever before us? 

Saint Teresa of Avila, the Spanish Carmelite nun, wrote the famous poem, Nada Te Turbe. It goes: “ Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things pass away:
God never changes. Patience obtains all things. He who has God finds he lacks nothing; God alone suffices.” How enviable if we truly are able to let nothing disturb our peace! 

This is precisely what God teaches in the Bible. Saint Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians from a Roman prison. He did not know whether or not he would be killed, but this is what he said: “Always be full of joy in the Lord...Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

Do not be disturbed. Do not be anxious. This is the temperament of one who has the Lord in his mind, heart, and spirit. To have a transformed life, we first need to transform the way we think. Instead of conforming to the world’s way of thinking, we need to think of ourselves the way God thinks. We need to aggressively believe in what God says and promises. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

When God Speaks

“...but the Lord was not in the earthquake.” 1 Kings 19:11

Many people think that when God speaks, He will do it in a booming voice, a Ten Commandments sure-to-be heard powerful utterance. But usually when God speaks, we can easily miss it if we are not quietly listening, and waiting for Him. 

The powerful prophet Elijah was waiting for the Lord in Horeb, known as the mountain of God. There was a strong wind, breaking rocks all around. But Elijah did not find Him in the heavy wind that could rend mountains. Then there was an earthquake and God was not there either. After that, there was a conflagration, but the Lord was not to be found in the depths of the fire. 

 After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound. If Elijah had not been quiet, he would have missed the sound of gentle blowing. We too can easily miss God’s presence if we are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our every day life. We need to give God space and time if we want to hear Him. He seldom wants to intrude. If we stay still and quiet at His feet every day, He will even gift us with the nuance of His voice. 

When I was young, I had been pestering God for something I wanted for 3 years. Then one day, He gave it to me. When I was saying my thank yous to Him, saying several Hallelujahs, I paused. I heard Him say, “You have been praying for this for so long, I give it to you.” I stopped because I distinctly heard His disappointment. I knew in my heart He was not pleased with my choice. Though it pained me I told Him that if He did not want it for me, to take it away for I could not do it on my own. Looking back, I am very happy God showed me His will. 

Lord, may we always stop and make the time to listen to You. “Big things” can happen when we hear Your still, small voice. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sheep in the Midst of Wolves

“Whoever is angry with someone will be liable to judgement.” Matthew 5:22

Last Monday, the Philippine National Police Chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayade, pronounced that the recent series of murders of priests should not be a cause of alarm for the public. This is in glaring contrast to the message of today’s gospel. 

Jesus said, “You shall not kill; whoever kills will be liable to judgement. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement...” As followers of Christ we need to recognize the growing culture of death, hate and anger in our society and speak out against it. 

Isn’t it alarming that the Global Peace Index of 2018 ranked the Philippines as the 2nd “last peaceful” country in Asia Pacific after North Korea? What kind of a country are we leaving our children? 

We need to start with our own hearts. Is there anyone we are angry with, have not forgiven? We need to make our hearts bastions for Christ. According to Wikipedia, “bastion fortifications offered a greater degree of passive resistance and more scope for ranged defense in the age of gunpowder artillery compared with the medieval fortifications they replaced.” 

The more hearts claimed for Christ, the more bastions of the Holy Spirit in our country, the more we will be able to defend against the onslaught of the enemy. We need to guard our hearts and minds against the many deceptions, and attacks thrown at us.  

Jesus, our brother, You send us out as sheep in the midst of wolves. May we be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)