Sunday, September 30, 2018

Just a Cup

“Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ, will certainly not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41

This tells me that any little thing we do for others, in Jesus’ name, because he or she is our brother or sister, has a corresponding recompense. How about the mean things we do, the spiteful, selfish things we do? When we keep things for ourselves, when we do not spend time helping others? Is there also a consequence for that in the economy of eternity? 

St. Paul told the Galatians in 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”. The Bible has a lot to say about sowing and reaping. In 2 Corinthians 9:6 we read, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

Whatsoever seeds we plant of generosity, love, forgiveness, joy, unselfishness, will grow in our hearts. That is why when we need love, we should go out and give love to others. When we are hurting, we should look for others who need a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, a word of comfort. In the world’s eyes that is foolishness, because what the world teaches is we cannot give what we do not have. 

Jesus said in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

I think I will take the Lord’s advice over the world’s any day! 

(Variations by the Prisma app) 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?

“I saw you under a fig tree.” John 1:48

Does Jesus see us under a fig tree the same way he saw Nathanael under a fig tree? “Under a fig tree” was a common place for prayer especially for young, rabbinic students, so Jesus was telling Nathanael that he saw Nathanael communing with God, and that he would see “greater things”. Indeed when we bow our head to God in prayer, our will definitely be changed! 

(Thomas Annan’s photo of Dr. Livingstone)

There is a story of a beggar who was at the great David Livingstone’s funeral. He was heard muttering, “You were right, Davey, you were right!” A man asked him why he said that, and the beggar explained that when they were young, he was David Livingstone’s classmate in Scotland. One day a preacher came and told them about Jesus and Davey went forward and gave his life to Jesus. The beggar said he refused to follow.

David Livingstone went on to be a giant of a man. He lived a lot of it on his knees. When he was young, he prayed, “Send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any ties, but the ties that bind me to Your service and to your heart.” And God answered, “Lo, I am with you always, even till the end of the age.” 

Henry M. Stanley, a journalist, was contracted to find David Livingstone, after the great explorer, physician and missionary went missing in Africa for 6 years. When he found the man, he asked the famous line, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” and continued, “I am the biggest swaggering atheist on the face of the earth. Don’t convert me!” Within 4 months, Stanley was on his knees accepting Christ because of Livingstone’s compelling faith and life. 

Livingstone died on his knees, weak and worn as he was, praying with the last breath in his body. He saw many wonders in Africa, and was influential in stopping the slave trade which he abhorred. But of all the wonders he saw, I am sure none can compare with meeting Jesus face to face! 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Crossed Fingers

“There is an appointed time for everything...” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Today, saying, “Keep your fingers crossed!” may mean, “Wish me luck!”, or one does it behind one’s back to invalidate a promise. But the original meaning behind the gesture dates back to early Christianity when two people would cross their index fingers to form a cross. In the early centuries of the Catholic Church, a person would also cross their fingers to invoke the power of the cross to ask for protection from evil. It even became a custom for Christians to cross their fingers as a secret sign of the cross just as the sign of the fish was also used. 

In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we read that, “There is an appointed time for everything”. Then in Chapter 1, there is a verse which says there’s really nothing new under the sun. History merely repeats itself. (1:9) The writer of Ecclesiastes had a sad verdict about life. His conclusion is it is meaningless and a dead end which he repeats about 35 times. 

We have a choice. We may think life is pointless, and use the crossed fingers sign as a way to bring luck into our corner. OR we can be like the early Christians who knew the power of the Cross and the name of Jesus. Their life was not meaningless and they were willing to die for what they believed in. We can believe that there is an appointed time, a blessed time for everything in our lives, and that even when hard times come, God is there, on top of it all, in full control. 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecc. 3:11)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

All is Vanity

“What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun?” Ecc. 1:3

I am sure all of us know or know of some people who work hard and cunningly to acquire money and power. There has been some Congressmen proposing a P69.4 billion budget cut for education facilities like classrooms, and P30.3 billion cut for the Dept. Of Health facilities enhancement program. Meanwhile, the House approved P2.5 billion, a 12% increase for the President’s confidential and intelligence funds which does not require any accounting. It is 400% higher than the confidential and intelligence funds of 2016. Enough said. 

The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes identifies himself as a King in Jerusalem who searched for understanding and wisdom. He built many beautiful palaces, and had more slaves, treasure, and concubines than many kings combined. “I had everything a man could desire! Anything I wanted, I took!” he claimed. 

“I did not restrain myself from any joy...but as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind,” this mighty King wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11. Ecclesiastes is a journal, a diary of a man who accomplished much, experienced almost everything the world could offer during his time. From the vantage point of his privileged life, he found that one could not enjoy life apart from God. 

“What do people really get for all their hard work?” he pondered. People may work hard to accumulate wealth but at the end of our lives, we cannot bring anything more than a poor man may take with him. We can have many trophies, recommendations, and streets in our name, but when we lie on our deathbed, none of that matters if we are not right with God. 

Although as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!”, we know that what God values is not vanity. When we die, we will find that faith, truth and love remain, and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

WOYWW: He is No Fool

From yesterday’s painting. I enjoyed myself so much, I started another one!

"...take nothing for the journey..." Luke 9:3

When St. Francis of Assisi heard the gospel on taking nothing for the journey on Feb. 24, 1208, he was overjoyed. I can't imagine anyone being overjoyed at Jesus' instructions to the twelve apostles to go out preaching but to take nothing, not even food! But Saint Francis had been feeling the pull of God in dreams and visions, and he felt that this was the clear direction he had been seeking. Although he had been a rich young man, with a taste for luxurious clothes and good food, he had renounced his possessions to the dismay of his father, and embarked on begging for food and for stones to rebuild a small church.

Like Saint Francis, we too are pilgrims on a journey. We take different paths, but we go to the same God. We will all learn eventually that we need to take nothing on our journey. Everything will be left behind. Some learn this later than others. I have to confess that I am accumulating many things on my pilgrimage. I do not travel light. But sometimes a glimpse of someone dying, leaving with nothing, leaving the same way we all came to earth, gives me pause to think. Truly I need to learn to relinquish my hold on possessions, to make my baggage lighter and lighter.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose." (Jim Elliot, from his diary, Oct. 28, 1949)

(Another thing I enjoy doing is altering my hand painted pictures with the Prisma app!)

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


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Crowd around Us

“The mother of Jesus and His brothers came to Him but were unable to join Him because of the crowd.” Luke 8:19

Jesus’ family wanted to reach Him but they could not because of the people surrounding Him. Sometimes we too want to be with Jesus but too many things get in the way. A “crowd” of tasks to do that need to be prioritised, a “crowd” of people to talk to, to minister to, to visit, a “crowd” of activities in church, in our organizations  and self-care groups. Then there are the “crowd” of distractions that can fill up hours of our time, Facebook, and Netflix, and music and drinking. Do we intentionally make room for Jesus or do we allow the crowds to jostle us out? 

I like the popular time management analogy. A philosophy professor put rocks in a large glass jar and asked his class if they thought the glass jar was full. They said yes. Then he filled it with little pebbles, shook the jar till the pebbles fit in all the nooks. Again the students said it was full. Then he poured in sand and the sand filled up the remaining space. “Is it full?” Everyone said yes, except one young man who said, “You can still put water in.”

“Yes you could. But what would have happened if you put the water in first, and filled it up to the top? Would there have been space for the rocks?” Every one shook their head. “Well the rocks represent what is important in our life. It should come first in the management of our time. If we fill our time and schedule with watching telenovelas, going through Facebook, and other diversions, we will not be able to make a life of purpose and meaning for ourselves.” 

Let us not allow the “crowd” to keep us from Jesus! 

Monday, September 24, 2018

God’s Light Bearers

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it...” 

Luke 8:16

I remember a very well known, very beautiful woman once commenting, “I don’t know why people would want to shake my hand. They don’t know what I was doing and where I came from.” I couldn’t forget her saying this when I was quite young because I remember wondering what could she have been doing to make her say that! All of us have secrets like the most embarrassing thing to have happened to us, or where we keep our passwords, but Jesus said in this same passage that there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nothing secret that will not come to light. 

Today it is not politically correct, especially in the West, to talk about religion and politics. There’s a lot of talk about relativism and about how we should respect others’ beliefs. We tiptoe around sharing the truth, the Word of God, because what is my truth may not be another’s. This is another way the world wants to stifle us from telling others the Good News. We are God’s light bearers and what God has revealed to us, we should not hide or be shy about proclaiming. The disciples and the saints were willing to die to proclaim the truth. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16) 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

One Child

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” 

Mark 9:36

Sometimes Jesus says such cryptic things and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to “unpack” it even if I spend my whole life pondering it. Of course it’s easy to receive a little child! Yesterday I was at a Lord’s Day celebration and there were cute little children playing around me. Three little girls in their nice dresses were playing house under the table with the long tablecloth covering them up. Three little boys were happily sliding around the floor in front of me while the program was going on. Even the celebrant mentioned that instead of listening to him on stage, we may prefer to look at the antics of the kids! Because children are easy to receive, to hug, to kiss, to cuddle! So what could Jesus possibly mean? 

Robert Seiple, the President of World Vision in 1992, wrote in a letter, “One of our sponsored children, a 14 year old Palestinian boy living on the West Bank, was caught by 16 Israeli soldiers as he was writing graffiti on a wall. The soldiers placed him up against the wall, and one shot him four times in the eye. As he lay on the ground, still alive, he was savagely beaten for almost an hour. During that time he was forced to stick his finger into his wound and wipe out the graffiti with his own blood. He was then bound and dragged through the village streets; finally thrown into the back of a jeep, and rudely dumped at a local hospital. Miraculously, he lived. Tragically this incident is not atypical. The entire drama was witnessed by an American. It has since been recorded in Western journals.”

This is just one horrible story among the millions of stories of children whose lives have been maimed by poverty, violence, abuse, and neglect. We do not need to look far. According to a 2016 study of the Council for the Welfare of Children and the  United Nations Children’s Fund, 8 in 10 Filipino children suffer from a form of violence. 

I believe that Jesus is saying that children are among the most unprotected, the most without a voice, the most “unseen” members of society. They can easily become victims, especially during war, natural calamities, or when parents are quarrelling, working too hard, or are OFWs in far away places. In the verses before verse 36, Jesus was instructing the disciples on how to be great. The logic of God is always different from the world’s, usually diametrically opposed even. If anyone of us wants to be great, we have to be a servant of those who are unprotected, those who have no voice, and those who are “unseen” by society. 

Lord, Your Words are hard to take. It is as if we have to carry the whole world on our shoulders! Help us to do the work You want us to do, to be Your heart, Your hands, Your feet. I know that it can never be enough, but if many of us take just one portion of the ache of the world for You, it can change the world! 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Bible Garden

“Some seed fell on good soil...” Luke 8:8

History began in a garden, and there’s a lot of illustrations in the Bible using gardening and farming. We can learn patience and perseverance when we work the soil. Like Jesus, I like praying in a garden. Usually retreat compounds include a garden to contemplate in. 

In the 8th chapter of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a farmer sowing his seed, and some of his seed falling on the path, some on rocky ground, some on thorns, and some on good soil. He said that the seed is the Word of God and the seed is sown in our hearts. What kind of soil is our hearts? If it is good soil, we will have a beautiful garden pleasing to God. There will be much fruit, many beautiful flowers, and seeds to spread and produce fruit in other hearts. 

I was listening to a Cat Woods, a lady with a YouTube channel who was expounding about how to make a Bible garden. Many ladies do bible journaling, put lots of ribbons, embellishments, stickers and paintings on the pages. They try to put a lot of it, so that when they look at their Bible, all the ribbons and colourful paper clips stick out, and that is their Bible garden. Cat Woods warned that although it’s nice to have a Bible garden, we should make sure that the Word is first sown in our hearts. What’s the use of a beautiful Bible if we ourselves do not have a beautiful garden in our hearts for God to delight in? 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Restless Hearts

“What reason can the teacher have for eating with tax collectors and those who disregard the law?” Matthew 9:11 

Isn’t it awesome that Jesus who had no spot of sin, ate with sinners? If he was here today, who would he be eating with? I would think the politicians and the “best and the brightest” of this administration would be ecstatic to eat with Him. I would be like the Pharisees looking on in dismay! I can be really self-righteous, judgmental, and blind. 

If only we could be like Jesus and see the hearts of those we despise and label as “sinners”. What would we see? Would we see arrogance or would we see a feeling of unworthiness, self-pity, and emptiness? Would we see entitlement or would we see a person who has been struggling with insecurity and discontent his or her whole life? It is usually the people in pain who hurt and malign others. It is usually the ones who feel lack in their life who grab and claw at any advantage. No matter how rich, famous, popular, and powerful a person is, he will always feel something lacking if he does not fill up the God-sized hole within himself. 

Jim Carrey said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.” There’s only one answer and that’s what St. Augustine realized after searching all over with his questions. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Great Sinners

“Her many sins have been forgiven...” Luke 7:47

In Luke 7, we find one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible. Jesus is invited to dine at a Pharisee’s home and a sinful woman comes, uninvited, to the gathering. She brings with her an alabaster flask of precious ointment. She then bathed Jesus’ feet with her hair, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with the ointment. 

The Pharisee, and most probably, his other guests, are shocked. In the Talmud, if a woman lets her hair down in public, it was grounds for divorce. Here was a notorious sinner, with not only her hair down, she was touching a man who was not a relative. Although in Old Testament times, women could become leaders and were held in high repute, by Jesus’ time, women were separate from men in private, public and religious life. Respectable women stayed within the confines of their homes, and only the poor and disreputable would go, as it was called, “abroad”. 

Jesus knew exactly what Simon the Pharisee was thinking. “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner,” Simon thought, probably making the judgment that Jesus was no prophet! Jesus then proposes a story about two people who were in debt. One had a debt of 500 days’ wages, and the other just owed a paltry 50. “Since they were both unable to pay, the creditor forgave them both. Which of them will love him more?” 

Simon then replies, “The one, I suppose whose larger debt was forgiven.” We probably do not realize how much we have been forgiven. We usually go blissfully on with our lives ignorant of the price Jesus paid on the cross. If we knew, we would be grovelling at Jesus’ feet, wanting to kiss them like the sinful woman. But how do we do that now? 

The answer lies in Matthew 25:40: “Whatsoever you do for one of these least brothers of mine, you do for me.” Whenever we help the typhoon victims, feed the hungry, visit those in prison, teach a poor child to read, we are able to wipe Jesus’ dirty feet. When we speak out against injustice, when we forgive those who have hurt us, when we show love to the unlovable, we bind Jesus’ wounds. We are such great sinners, that we have to go “abroad”, and find ways to visit Jesus and show our gratefulness. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

WOYWW: This Generation

I bought this book recently and started drawing my day in a small notebook. 

“How shall I describe this generation?" Luke 7:31

We could say that Jesus was frustrated. He asked, "What comparison can I use for the men of today? What are they like?" And He compares them to kids playing a game in the city square, or in the public market. The children play wedding songs or funeral songs, anything that can get them a bit of money perhaps.  Men and women of today are still much the same. We are still playing games, not very serious about what we believe in.  We like to pick and choose the songs we sing.  We like to do it "my way".  In Jesus' time, people criticized John the Baptist for being too severe, for fasting all the time. But they also put down Jesus for feasting and eating, and being a friend of sinners. Today, we may read the Bible, but gloss over the verses that bring us to hard places, places where we would rather not go. Repentance. Transformation. Sacrifice. Forgiveness 70 x 7. Do we pass these Bible passages by?

If we want a life where God makes an appearance, where we can say we know the God of the Bible, we cannot make Him up.  We cannot invent Him.  We cannot make Him in our image. We need to be serious, read the Bible God has given us so we can get to know Him, the one true God, and all He has done through the ages to make us a part of His family. We have a marvelous inheritance in Him. In awe, we can only pray, "Lord, show up in my life!" 

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


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Serve the Lord

“Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.” Psalm 100:2

Sometimes it is difficult to serve the Lord with gladness. These are deeply troubled times and it often seems like the world is on the brink of a collapse. We seem to be perched on a precipice and when we look down, it spells disaster. If we stay where we are, it’s also very precarious. Yesterday my sister showed me a video which impressed me deeply. It was a BBC documentary about a family of barnacle geese. The mother goose plants her eggs high up to avoid the Arctic Fox feeding on them. But when it comes time for the goslings to eat grass, the mother calls to the goslings to follow her from 120 to 450 m. down the rocky crags. The goslings have no wings yet, so they tumble down and hit themselves several times on the sharp face of the cliff. It is very hard to watch this painful descent and I got surprised that any of the goslings survived.

When we feel the pain and pathos of our people, the hunger, the devastation of their crops and homes after typhoon Ompong, the lack of books and schoolhouses and good teachers who know right from wrong, the injustice that fills our jails with the innocent, the sexual trafficking of women rampant in the provinces, the use of little children and even babies by their parents for pornography here in our country, abuses by the clergy, etc.....where do we start to serve? What can we do? The task is insurmountable. 

Like Mother Teresa and the saints, we need only to serve the Lord in our little corner of the world. Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.” We may not be able to solve world hunger but we may feed a poor child begging in the street. 

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” May we all be little pencils in the hand of God. We can leave the big, horrible problems of this world to a God who takes care of even little goslings tumbling down a precipice. We can trust Him to take care of our people, our country and our Church. We just need to be available for Him to use, to put our gifts at His disposal, where we are.