Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Jesus My Friend

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14

When we see something exciting, different, scary, or life changing, we have a tendency to share it with others, don’t we? St. John the Apostle was no different than any of us. He witnessed something amazing and life changing and he not only talked about it, he wrote about it. 

John was a fisherman along with his father Zebedee, and his elder brother James, when he decided to investigate, who is this man, Jesus? He followed Jesus around for three years, learning all that he could. Then, after Jesus’ crucifixion, John took Jesus’ mother into his home, and he discovered even more about Jesus, and Mary. What an awesome time St. John must have had learning more and more about his Master Jesus! 

John had personal knowledge of Jesus. He ate with Him, and we know how close we usually get with people we enjoy a meal with. John walked miles with Jesus, and the other disciples, saw the miracles, prepared the Last Supper, and shared in the horror of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. And he wanted us to know and believe what he knew and believed. And so this fisherman decided to write it all in the Gospel of John, his 3 Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. 

Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) If we want to be friends with Jesus, all we have to do is read the stories of Saint John the Apostle. What a treasure trove he left!!! 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Do not Love the World

“Do not love the world or the things of the world.” 1 John 2:15

Sometimes we make faith too complicated. We should just go back to the basics of what God wants from us. Basically it is a heart issue. God wants our heart. He wants us to be like little children who desires nothing less than to love Him and to love others as well. After all, is this not what anyone who loves desires? To be loved in return? 

Jesus says that the first, most important commandment is to love God above all, with everything in us. Isn't it amazing that God who has and is everything, should have this as His primary agenda? Pastor Ron Tucker said that the one thing God wants and will not take by His power is the VOLUNTARY love of a human heart.

Father, may I see Your love for me for what it truly is- all-encompassing, all forgiving, all accepting! Your loving kindness and graciousness can never be measured. May I love You with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. And may I see my neighbor through your loving eyes, so I may love him too!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Do We Know God?

“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.” Psalm 128:1

Do we know God? Do we know His ways? Do we know that His words are true?  Or do we merely know about God?  Even if our bibles are full of lines and colors and notes, or paintings (like mine), it doesn't mean we know God.  It may just mean we know about Him. Can we say like Job, that "I heard of You but now my eyes see You."? (Job 42:5)  

There are so many bible studies available online, so many books to read, so much preaching on Youtube and the whole world wide web, but it is only head knowledge if we do not take what we learn and try to put it into practice.  We need revelation not information.  We need to "see whether His words are true".  

I know His words are true because I put Him to the test all the time. (Malachi 3:10) I just do what I can, and let God do what I can't do. In our business, I have to pray a lot about all sorts of small and big things. I'm smart but not that smart. I'm capable but not that capable. I'm forgetful, disorganized, my mouth says the wrong things, but if I do my best, God will take care of the rest. Before I ended up in the hospital, we opened new papemelroti branches in SM Bacoor and Ayala Manila Bay. We were set to open in Festival Mall, but I was already in the hospital. Amazingly, my niece stepped up to the plate and took over my money duties and is streamlining it. Yay! Our very capable staff said opening Festival Mall was their Christmas gift to me! I did not have to move a finger. 

As long as I get up early in the morning to pray and read the Bible (even if I’m sick, lazy, have so much to do), I know I can depend on Him who keeps His promises, and who gives so many good things! 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Choose this Day

“Herod ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he ascertained from the magi.” Matthew 2:16

What is it in a man like Herod or the Egyptian Pharaoh in Moses’ time, that makes him believe he can just discount lives and have them murdered? But are there not today many little Herods and Pharaohs who vote to legalize abortion and believe they are righteous for doing so? 

And then there are men who think little of murdering a man sleeping beside his wife and children on Christmas day. 32 year old Ryan Cuarteros was shot dead by two men who forced their way into his home. Some people will ask, is God asleep that He would allow such atrocities? Is He, when He has given each of us the greatest gift of life and of choosing what to do with that life? 

“Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Today we may despair at the pervasive evil done by people in government, in media, people with political agendas in schools, even in the Church, or we may be the change, be the difference in the world. There are so many places that need our light to shine to dispel the darkness. Let us choose every day to serve the Lord and never give up. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Eternal made Visible

“What was from the beginning...we proclaim to you the eternal life...made visible to us..." 1 John 1:1-2

Today is the Feast Day of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist. He was a pillar of the Jerusalem Church after Jesus' death and lived to a very old age. St. John is purportedly the author of the Gospel of John, the three Epistles and the Book of Revelation. Jesus thought so highly of him that he assigned St. John to care for his mother.

"The eternal...made visible" - When Jesus was born, the eternal collided with the finite. The eternal was made visible to us. Saint John experienced talking with the eternal, walking with Him, eating with Him, asking questions. 

Nick Charles, was a well-known CNN sportscaster having worked with the cable news network since it began. He was divorced twice and lived an indulgent life until he met Jesus. That changed him and he became a Christian. In 2009, he was diagnosed with an incurable bladder cancer and was given 4-20 months to live. He began to make preparations. He recorded videos for his children, especially for his youngest 5-year old daughter so she would get greetings from him every birthday.

One night, when he was in so much pain, he prayed, "God, please take me. I'm ready." Then he said he saw Jesus come and sit by his bed, and Jesus said, "I'll take you, but not yet." That gave him strength to go on. Nick Charles said, "Faith is fastening to what is unseen."

We don't have to wait until we have a few months to live to "fasten to the unseen". We only have to read the Bible, read the Words written by men who walked with the ETERNAL MADE VISIBLE

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Reason to Celebrate

“In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets. In these last days, He has spoken to us through the Son, whom He made heir of all things and through whom He created the universe.” Hebrews 1:1-2

The liturgy of the word for the Christmas masses are so very rich. What man would ever think of, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be”? That just has to be a revelation from the Holy Spirit!!! It seems to me that God, the Creator of the Universe, the kickstarter of life, wanted to reveal Himself to His creation by sending prophets to speak to us, which is exactly what St. Paul is telling the Hebrews. But these were all imperfect, incomplete messages. 

Then God sent His Son, “the true light shining in the darkness”, the “Word became flesh”. We can be confident that Jesus lived, and lived an extraordinary life, and died an extraordinary death. The historical evidence for Jesus is both long-established and widespread compared to other historical figures. To me, if we believe Jesus lived and said what He said, and He did claim He was God, it behooves us, it is incumbent on us, it is absolutely life and death for us, to find out why, and what is that master plan of God? 

We don’t want to be left out of the biggest happening on earth, do we? Not me! I want to be in on it! This is huge! It will impact eternity! Our time on earth is an infinitesimal pause in God’s scheme of things. Yet we are given a chance to live forever with Him. Jesus said, “EVERYONE who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25)

And that is just one reason to celebrate this Christmas season! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


“...the dawn from on high shall break upon us , to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:79

Ever since I learned that because of my open heart surgery, I had to restrict the movement of my arms, that I should not lift more than 5-8 lbs, I should not pull or push, I should not reach behind my back or reach both arms overhead, etc., I’ve been trying to curb my impatience. I never realized how many everyday ordinary actions required the use of my arms, from lifting myself out of bed in the morning, to shampooing one’s hair! A total of 6 weeks of depending on others to do things for me! I hope I don’t drive them crazy! 

Zechariah must have been impatient too. Nine months of having no voice, waiting for his miracle son to be born. No matter if he knew his son would be “great in the eyes of the Lord” and “filled with the Holy Spirit”, Zechariah would have been excited to hold the promise of the Lord in his arms! If we focus on feeding on God’s Word, we too will be impatient to see it fulfilled in our life. We will be like a pregnant mother, impatient to see God’s gift for ourselves. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Angels Watching over Me

 "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? But the angel told him not to be afraid. "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."

"How can this be?" Zechariah asked incredulously, "We are both so old!"  True enough, Elizabeth became pregnant, and she gave birth to a baby boy. 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. We too have a purpose in our life.  We were not just dumped on earth without rhyme or reason.  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!

I believe that there are many things happening in the spiritual realm more real than what we see with our eyes. That is why we should not despair, and only trust and believe in what God is doing on our behalf. Yesterday my sister prodded her husband to share what happened when he was praying for me during my open heart surgery. He was very reluctant, saying repeatedly, “I’m not an angel person.” Then he said when he was praying for me, he saw several large angels surrounding me during my operation. “Then I cried,” he said, embarrassed, “and I’m not a crying person either!” After that, he knew I was going to be all right. 

I cried too when I told me. Imagine, God sending angels to watch over me! We don’t really know but what if that was the ordinary run of events? If we pray that God will send His angels to watch over our children, our spouses, our homes and schools, our country, will He not do it? Let us build up our faith during this season of grace and we will see more of God’s work in our life. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019


“Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.” Romans 1:5-7

Yes, we are called and chosen. What a privilege and an honor! We need to always remember those times God shows us His face. On Easter of 2007, I was sick and in bed, and could not attend our community’s Easter Vigil. Instead I watched Pope Benedict XVI on TV celebrate mass in Rome. I listened to his Urbi Et Orbi message to the city of Rome and to the world. I waited for him to greet the Filipinos, “Maligayang Pasko ng Pagkabuhay!” and give the Apostolic blessing.

On Easter of 2008, I was again sick in bed, and while the family all went to our community’s Easter Vigil, I again, on my own, watched Pope Benedict in Rome. Of course, that awoke in me a longing to one day, attend for real, the Easter mass in Rome. 

In 2009, my mom decided she wanted to join a pilgrimage tour of a well known healing priest as we had just learned she had cancer of the tongue. We joined her and we found ourselves in the Vatican during the Easter Mass. My joy at being there was unimaginable. To me, it was destiny, God meeting me there. I was seated beside a sister who was a “veteran” of many Vatican masses. When communion time came, she got up, firmly took hold of my hand, and made sure we were able to take communion. Many in our group were not able to take communion because of all the people, but God made sure I was able to. I knew I was where God wanted me to be. 

When I was much younger, my family went on a trip to visit my mother’s family in Melbourne. I was a little bit conflicted if God really wanted us to spend so much money travelling to Australia when there were so many hungry people in our country. One particular day, after praying and asking God where He wanted us to go, I felt He wanted me to be surrounded by His creation. “Go and smell the flowers." My mom and I decided to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens and we arrived just in time for the free tour. As the guide pointed out the beautiful plants, flowers and trees, I felt God's love surround me. Then the guide said, “Smell the flowers." I bent down and I distinctly remember to this day, the palpable feeling that God was telling me, “You are in the right place at the right time."

Sometimes God brings us on wonderful adventures. Other times, the adventure has a hard and difficult face. It does not mean that we are not in the right place at the right time. It just means God is calling us to growth, and a chance to see Him work. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Design in God’s Heart

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Luke 1:45

In Psalm 32, we read, “The plan of the LORD stands forever; the design of His heart, through all generations.” Imagine, the Creator of the Universe has a design in His heart for you, and for me. He has a plan for our families, and all the people we are concerned about. The banner over that plan is love. 

How blessed we are that we have the example of Mary, the mother of our Lord. She was blessed, yes, but her life was a paradox, just as yours and mine is. She was full of rejoicing, how could she not rejoice when she was the Ark of the Covenant, when she carried in her womb her own Saviour? But Simeon prophesied in the temple, “...a sword will pierce your own soul, too.” (Luke 2:35) No matter how precious and highly favoured Mary was to God, she could not escape the sword. Part and parcel of the beautiful nativity story, of a new birth, is also the cruel death that saved each one of us. 

We cannot escape trials, suffering and pain. But just as not one tiny ounce of Mary’s suffering was wasted, so too our pains count for something in God’s perfect design. In Psalm 56:8, we are reassured that God keeps track of all our sorrows. He collects all our tears in His bottle. He records each one in His book. Each single teardrop!!! We may not understand what God allows in our life, but if like Mary, we just need to believe and trust. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Count Your Blessings

“But now you will be speechless...” Luke 1:20

When Zechariah was told by an angel in the first chapter of Luke that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son, Zechariah did not believe because they were both sooo old. The angel said, "Now you will be mute until the promise will be fulfilled." When what the angel foretold took place, Zechariah's tongue was loosened and he started praising God.

With just 6 more days till Christmas, we need to be like Zechariah and spend some quiet time pondering what God has done 

and is doing for us. We should not take for granted God’s handiwork in our life. Too often, we do just that! God is making sure I am full of thankfulness this Advent and Christmas season! 

After my heart surgery, every little progress I make is a point of rejoicing. The easiest things to do before, like dangling my feet from the side of the bed, eating sitting up, turning my body to the side, makes my oxygen level go low. So all the things I used to do before, which I did not give thought to, they are God’s gifts. 

I remember when I was very sick with Pemphigus Vulgaris, and my mouth was filled with sores. I got so thin because I could not eat, and I felt so sad I could not talk or sing. Today, I am very grateful that I can eat and talk and sing. Sometimes you have to lose things before you learn to appreciate them. But let us not wait to lose things, and especially people, before we thank the generous Lord for them! 

If we spend some time today, counting our blessings too many to count, like Zechariah, we too will praise God! By the time Christmas comes around, we will have the true joy that God promises which does not depend upon shiny gifts under the tree! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


“Behold the virgin shall be with child 

and bear a son and they shall name Him 

Emmanuel which means "God with us". Matthew 1:23

"God with us". As I ponder this, I think 

what am I without God? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Man is a god in ruins." Indeed, without God what is the purpose of my life, who would give me the joy in my heart even in the midst of challenges, trials, waiting for things to get better? Who could surround me with a palpable peace while I lie in my hospital bed pondering the many questions surrounding my recuperation. How long before I get back to normal, when just eating an orange makes me breathless? When just dangling my feet on the side of the bed is progress? 

This season of Advent for me is a time of contradictions. I know that so many things are going on around me, things I should have been part of. At my workplace, they are in the midst of the busiest season of the year, one we have been preparing for since May when we started designing Christmas items. At home, I should be wrapping gifts that I have bought months ago, in malls, in Big Bad Wolf, online, even in Tokyo. I have missed community events, and parties, and even being godmother to the cutest baby girl. 

Just as Mary pondered many questions in her heart, the Advent Season is for pondering our life as well. Just because for me it is a time of contradiction, it does not mean it is the same for our Lord. He knows exactly where I am in His scheme of things. He holds me in the palm of His hand, and He has bigger plans for me than the little things I fret about. I need only to rest in Him, and He will make the path to Him straight. That is what I can hold on to. He is my safe haven. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Be Blessed

“In Him shall all the tribes be blessed.” Psalm (71) 72:17

It appears to be that the reason my blood clots abnormally is I have an inherited disorder of the blood called Thalassemia. I have been joking that it is because I am really Jewish. Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews are routinely screened for beta thalassemia. 

Joking aside, if we have accepted Jesus as our brother, we are adopted into His family. And as adopted sons and daughters, we should learn more about our family, what we have inherited, how to be a good member of this royal family, even about the family business. Is that not common sense? It is supremely important to get to know our Father, our brother Jesus, how they think, how they want us to act. We don’t want to be like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) who rejected the Father who loved him so much that Father waited and longed for his return even if his son had insulted him! We don’t want to miss out on a life here on earth surrounded by friendship with the One who knows us best, joy that the world can never give, peace beyond understanding. Even in the midst of trial and tribulations, we can know we are more precious to God than anything He has created. Let us waste time with Him who was, who is, and who is to come this Advent. We will never regret it. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Adventure Story

“A star shall advance from Jacob,

and a staff shall rise from Israel.” Numbers 24:17A

It seems to me as if the whole of the Bible is an adventure story that we are very much a part of. How amazing it is that God used many people throughout ages and ages to fulfill His plan. From Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, and then much later, Mary and the disciples. They are all there to tell us of God’s amazing love and plan for us to join Him one day in heaven. 

I cannot resist but compare it in a way to all the surgeons, doctors, nurses and technicians, helping me in the hospital, to get me home for Christmas. It is not God’s plan that my blood should clot and form chronic emboli. The surgeon had to use His extraordinary skills to extract the calcified clots from my heart. In the same way, many of us have deeply ingrained sin and ways contrary to the ways of God. All is not lost, we just need to turn to God, and ask Him for help. He will help us this season of Advent, to welcome Him into our hearts and receive the extraordinary gifts of the Christ Child.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Be Patient

“Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it.” James 5:7-8

There are many things I am learning here in the hospital. I have to be patient with myself. I am usually impatient, wanting things done right away in my own way. But I cannot hurry my body. Dr. Alduz said I cannot be transferred yet to a regular room because liquids are still seeping out of a tube from my heart cavity. I have to expand my lungs using a spirometer and do my deep breathing and coughing exercises to keep my lungs active throughout my recovery and prevent complications such as pneumonia. I even have to be patient about standing and walking! Apparently I have to undergo rehab for those basic things! I can’t wait to be out of the hospital! 

Just as a farmer waits for his harvest, and a mother waits for the birth of her child, we too have to wait for the coming of the Lord. We need to be patient, for the Lord does not come in haste. “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3) If we are patient, and seek Him during this blessed Advent time, and not rush around like a deranged person as I often do, Jesus will come with His gifts which cannot be found in any mall or online store. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Strength for the Journey

“It is He who gives strength to the weary, and it is He who increases fortitude and strength in those who are failing.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will take up wings like eagles. They will run and not struggle. They will walk and not tire.” Isaiah 40:29,31

I have been comforted, fortified and encouraged with all the prayers and messages. But I cannot accept it when it is said of me that my faith is strong, and that I am brave. That is so far from the truth. Ask my family. I cannot take a taxi alone. I have a phobia of butterflies and our helper has to wave away a butterfly before I can go out into the garden. I went to driving school three times and never was brave enough to conquer Manila traffic. I get scared just crossing a street! 

But today, I am amazed. I slept well last night and did not have any anxiety at all. At 6 am today, I will undergo a coronary bypass to be followed by a  pulmonary artery embolectomy under deep hypothermic circulatory arresst. Ordinarily  I would be fearsome, and fraught with anxiety. Instead I am at peace. God is in control, all is well with my word. I have seen how God can give me peace beyond understanding, and strength for this journey even under the most trying circumstance. 

My sister came to visit. She said while at work, she felt out of sorts, but when she came into my room at the hospital, she felt relieved. Such is the strength of God’s grace! I am now claiming the 2nd part of the verse which says I will run and not struggle, walk and not tire!!!

God is good all the time. But I believe we experience Him more deeply during times of trial, especially if one has many to unite in prayer with. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Grass Withers

“Though the grass withers and the flower fades, the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Yesterday a priest came to my hospital room and prayed over me. He is known as the priest with MRI eyes and can see what ails us. He said he could see my emboli and that there were so many and that the operation was “delikado” (dangerous). It has not been said, but of course, it is there in the back of everyone’s mind, that I could die on the operating table. I could have died of pulmonary embolism as well last Tuesday, when my lips turned blue, my oxygen went down down, and I felt so cold and shaky. 

Indeed we will all wither and fade one day. Ever since my mom died and I was given a revelation of heaven, I have not feared death. It is a door to where we all long to be, no more pain, suffering, sickness, and frustration. Of course, I have a wonderful family, friends and a community I count as family I would be loathe to leave behind. 

I was wondering why God allowed me to get sick now, the busiest time of the year for our business, a time when so many things are happening? And then I think, what better time? If I was not in the hospital, I would be in the middle of ordering Christmas stock, talking to suppliers, wrapping the gifts I’ve bought throughout the year. Instead, I am “in the desert, preparing the way of the Lord, making a highway for our God! (Isaiah 40:3) This Advent, I will have ample time for repentance, soul searching and house cleaning, to prepare to welcome Jesus in my heart. This may be my most wonderful Christmas yet if I allow God to do what He wants to do in my life!!! 

Monday, December 09, 2019

God’s Love

“May it be done unto me according to Your Word.” Luke 1:38

If only Adam and Eve had Mary’s disposition! They would not have willfully disobeyed God and eaten of the tree God had expressly forbidden them to eat. Because of this, sin came into the world, along with hunger, social injustice, disease, and all sorts of perversions of God’s perfect will. 

I lie here in my hospital bed blaming Eve for my probable congenital defect that caused my pulmonary embolism. But I realize I am no Mary, she who was full of grace and who found favor with God. If I was in the garden, I probably would have eaten the forbidden fruit too! Again and again, we choose the forbidden fruit over God’s laws of mercy, grace, forgiveness and generosity towards others. Father, in this season of Advent, help us to realize that we need only to repent of our sin and You will run towards us like the father of the prodigal son. 

Nothing can separate us from God’s love, neither death, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:38-39)

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Prepare for Jesus

“Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” Matthew 3:8

Yesterday my sister advised I should receive the anointing of the sick and hear confession in preparation for my upcoming surgery tomorrow or Tuesday. It is not easy to make a big decision to have open heart surgery. We opted for a procedure called pulmonary artery embolectomy under deep hypothermic circulatory arrest to remove three big blood clots in a major artery. 

Today, because the priest is coming, I will spend some time listing down my many sins. I find it especially appropriate because it is Advent, a time to prepare for Jesus’ coming, to make space in the inn of my heart, just as the surgeon removes what does not belong there. Not many face a future that includes an open heart surgery. But when you think about it, we are all under a death sentence, all marching towards the “Grim Reaper”. The question is, are we prepared?

Friday, December 06, 2019

God Will Make a Way

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

Yesterday when my pulmonary doctor talked to me and Luigi, we learned that because of a congenital condition, I developed blockage in both my lungs as a consequence of the pulmonary embolism. Blood cannot carry the oxygen where it needs to go. No wonder I am usually breathless! The same day, my other doctor who is part of my community, Ligaya ng Panginoon, said it was a miracle I was alive, and it was a miracle we have Josh! “Women with antithrombin III deficiency are prone to pregnancy-associated venous thromboembolism,” I read. I had a normal pregnancy except for a scare which turned out to be Josh hiccuping in my womb and bed rest towards the end of my pregnancy because of pre-eclampsia.

I can see that God wanted us to have a child, and a wonderful son at that, in spite of my condition, in spite of my being 38 years old! I marvel now at his goodness and faithfulness in giving us the gift of Josh. I see that even if there are natural causes conspiring against us, if God wants something for us, He will make a way even if there is no way. 

During this Advent season it is good to pause and think of what God has done for us. With all our sin, it is impossible to be with Him in heaven, to even get close to a sinless God. But He made a way where there is no way because He wants us there with Him! Thank You Lord for conquering the impossible for us! We should be insignificant but we aren’t! You love us so much You sent Your Son Jesus to get us into heaven! How infinitely precious we are to You! 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Building on Rock

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them shall be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.” Matthew 7:24

When Josh was a little boy, we built a sand castle too close to the water, and so we had to watch it erode with every wave until it was back to a pitiful mound of sand. We are always building something, a family, a career, a business, a life. What is the foundation we are building it on? 

One thing we can be sure of, there will always be something to test the foundation. Last Tuesday I had a Pulmonary Embolism, which according to my doctor, is like a heart attack but of the lungs. So I am undergoing a multitude of tests right now to find out why and how to heal me. Right now, the smallest exertion sends me into coughing fits and leaves me breathless. So I am stuck in bed with so many wires attached to monitors. 

Where is God in all this? Right beside me, reminding me that as long as I keep my hope and trust in Him, I will be all right. The world may shake and tremble all about me, but I will be standing on firm ground. Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” No one who trusts in God will ever be put to shame. 

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2) I will think of this as my adventure with the Lord. Adventures always have cliffhangers. And it’s not as if I am alone. I am overwhelmed with the prayers coming from all over. God is good and He always, always keeps His Word.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

My Shepherd

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Psalm 23:1

The Lord is my shepherd. He leads me where there is everything I need, peaceful water, and green meadows. He protects me from my enemies. 

The Lord is my gardener (1 Cor. 3:9).  He takes care that I am fruitful, that I will bloom in due season. He prunes away the dead leaves and broken branches. He makes sure I am healthy. 

The Lord is my friend (John 15:15). Everything He learned from our Father He has made known to us. He has taught us what we need to know. Even the hard things. We are not His servants He said, because if He was, He would not have confided in us! Imagine the privilege we have as His friend! 

But the Lord can only be our shepherd and gardener and friend if we continue to be intimate with Him. If we have a relationship with Him. Otherwise, He will just be a stranger knocking at the door (Rev. 3:20). "If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and will share a meal as friends." 

Lord, what a friend I have in You! There is no one like You! How humble You are that You do not barge Your way into my life! You wait until I invite You in! Lord, shine Your light into every corner of my home, especially the dark places! Be my Shepherd, be my Gardener, be my friend! Without You, I am wretched and blind and pitiable! 

Tuesday, December 03, 2019


“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” Luke 10:23

Jesus said His Father had hidden things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to the childlike. This reminds me of a story I read a long time ago. A soldier found a book in a used bookstore, and liked the sensitive notations written in the margins. When he found a name, Holly, and address at the back of the book, he wrote asking if they might correspond as he was going to be deployed for 18 months overseas. To his delight, the lady wrote back and they continued getting to know each other. 

When his 18 month assignment was over, they agreed to meet, but the lady refused to give her picture. “You will know me by the pink rose I will wear on my dress,” she said. The day finally came and the eager soldier was waiting, scanning all the people that went by their agreed meeting place, when suddenly a beautiful woman walked toward him. She was stunning and their eyes met, and he almost turned to follow her... but there was no rose on her lapel. 

Then he saw an older woman, maybe 40 years old, rather sweet looking, with a rose pinned to her dress. Swallowing his palpable disappointment, he said hello and asked her to have dinner with him. The lady smiled and answered, “Son, I don’t know what this is about, but that young lady who walked by said if you were to ask me to dinner, I was to tell you she is waiting in that cafe over there.” 

In this world, we get enticed by so many things that sometimes we get distracted from what is the right thing to do. In Frozen 2, there is a song that goes, “Just do the next right thing, Take a step, step again, It is all that I can to do, The next right thing.” This Advent, it is a good time to evaluate, am I getting distracted by worldly things? Am I taking time to seek God and what He wants for me? Instead of being “wise and learned”, let us desire what God has revealed to the childlike. As Christmas approaches, let us await with joy the gifts the Christ Child has for us, and give Him our heart in return. 

Monday, December 02, 2019

Lord, I Believe!”

"Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Matthew 8:10

What was it about the Centurion’s faith that surprised Jesus? Jesus said to the centurion, “Go, and just as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. True, it was very unusual for a Centurion, an officer in charge of 100 or more soldiers, to care so much for his servant. The historian Polybius noted, that a Centurion must be “ready to hold their ground, and die at their posts." They must be courageous, and not very sentimental, I think. 

But this man took the time to find Jesus, approach him and petition, “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and badly tormented.” In those times a servant was no better than an animal, but this Centurion loved his servant and had compassion for him. He also had faith in Jesus, that even if Jesus did not go to his home, He could heal his servant. 

The Centurion said the very words we say at every Mass, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.” Jesus saw his heart, his faith, and answered his prayer. Do we have the same kind of faith as the Centurion?

Advent is a special time with special graces. Let us approach Jesus with the expectant faith of the Centurian. And if we feel our faith is lacking, let us pray like the father in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” 

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Put On the Lord Jesus Christ

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (Rom. 13:14)

Saint Augustine's conversion from being a sinner to saint, started when he heard a childlike voice telling him to to read the Bible. The first thing he read was " Let us behave properly, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (Rom. 13:13-14)

Our encounter with God's Word will always have an effect. Isaiah 55:11 says, "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Jesus' mission continues. God's Word touches people's lives today just as it did when Jesus walked the earth.

Yesterday evening was the start of the Church season of Advent. We lit our white candle decorated with violet droppings 😂😂😂 Pre-Advent readings have been all about the Second Coming of the Lord, about how we have to be ready at any time, because He will come unannounced, like a thief in the night. “The heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.” Back up a minute. Everything? All the petty things I do? All those horrible thoughts about this person I don’t particularly like? A lot of times we see bigwigs flashing by us in his convoy in the opposite lane. I was thinking, “Does God care about these seemingly insignificant infractions? Will it count in the eternal scheme of things?” I consider all our congressmen who want to allow the dissolution of marriage in our country just because they want to escape from their own legal unions. Or how about our President cursing on TV and encouraging a culture of death and destruction? If we are to believe Saint Peter, we will be accountable for EVERYTHING we do. Who in the world is safe then? As Ric Warren says, “I am married to a sinner, and she is married to a bigger sinner!” We can’t point fingers at one another. 

But we can take comfort in this: “be eager to be found without spot or blemish before Him, at peace.” At first reading this seems highly, exceedingly, immensely impossible. But wait, I know there’s something somewhere in God’s Word which says put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). How do we do that? Galatians 3:27 says, “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” It’s not impossible after all! 

Saturday, November 30, 2019


“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

What can be more desirable in our future than being saved, than having a chair at our Father’s table? But confessing in our mouth and believing in our heart can also make our life here on earth more victorious and fulfilling. We should know the many promises of God and agree with Him by confessing them out loud. They will be like seeds that can bloom and grow in our garden of life. 

I remember when my mom was being interviewed for a newspaper article. She was asked what her plans were for the future. She confidently said is going to put up a factory with apartments for the workers. True enough a few years after that she had her dream. 

When Mary was told by an angel that she would conceive and bear a son, she agreed and said in Luke 1:38 “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to Your word.” 

In contrast, when Zechariah was told that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son in her old age, he did not believe and was made dumb until John the Baptist was born. Could it be that the angel closed Zechariah’s mouth because it was so important that he did not give voice to his skepticism? 

Indeed if we want to live lives of victory, abundance, health and fruitfulness, we need to know the Bible, believe it, and like Mary, say, “Let it be done unto me according to Thy Word.” 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Kingdom Come

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, His Kingship shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14

It may seem like kingdoms here on earth are all powerful and will last forever. The way kings and dictators rule, it is as if they will never be judged for their actions. But at the end of time, Jesus will be Judge and it will be the comparatively insignificant people who are building God’s Kingdom here on earth whom Jesus will point out and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” 

I am sure that one of those people will be Andrew van dee Bijl, or Brother Andrew as he is called. He was born in 1928 and he is still alive today. As a young boy he dreamed of derring-do, and when he was old enough started smuggling Bibles into the Iron Curtain. It was usually difficult to find the Christians and their underground churches because the State did all it could to snuff out religion and religious activities. 

During one trip to Sofia, Bulgaria, Andrew had memorized the address of Petroff, a Christian. He was warned that he should not go around asking for Petroff as he was a foreigner and Petroff would surely get into trouble. Andrew then looked for a map of the city but the bookstore and hotel did not have any. 

In the hotel, there was a small decorative, hand painted street plan under glass. At first Andrew dismissed it because only the names of the biggest boulevards were shown. But as he bent over it, he saw the most amazing thing. The cartographer had only penned in the names of the major avenues, and there was only one tiny street a few blocks from the hotel that had a name. It was the street where Petroff lived. 

When Andrew visited Petroff in his one room apartment, Petroff showed him that he had 2 Bibles, one complete one, and one with missing pages. He was using a typewriter to fill in the missing parts so he could give it away to a little church in Plotiv where there was not a single Bible. Andrew was able to bring in cartons of Bibles for Petroff to distribute throughout Bulgaria through the years. 

And now, do not most people take for granted our Bibles on the shelf?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

God’s Smuggler

“O Daniel, servant of the living God, has the God whom you serve so constantly been able to save you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20

Even if Daniel was cast into a den with several lions, the next day he was alive and well, praising God. Do we believe that God can or will deliver us from lions today? 

I am reading the amazing book “God’s Smuggler” about Brother Andrew’s mission to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe following the rise of Communism after World War II. In 1957, there was not a single Communist border over which you could take books of any kind- let alone religious books! 

But Brother Andrew was able to pack his little Volkswagen several times with German, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian Bibles to bring to the persecuted Christians in those countries. Many times he had to face the lions at the dangerous borders, suspicious lions at consulates, lions waiting to inspect his precious cargo. God made seeing eyes blind as Brother Andrew would pray. 

One time Brother Andrew was waiting to get across the Rumanian border. There were only six cars ahead of him and he thought it would go fast. But no! The inspection for each car took from thirty minutes to an hour. Literally everything in the car was taken out and spread on the ground and every car was put through the same thorough routine. Hub caps were removed, the engine taken apart, seats upended. 

“Dear Lord,” Andrew started praying, “what am I going to do? I know that no amount of cleverness on my part can get me through. Let me take some Bibles out and leave them out in the open where they will be seen. Then Lord, I cannot possibly depend on my own stratagems, can I? I will be depending utterly upon You!” 

Andrew took several Bibles from their hiding places and piled them on the seat beside him. When it was his turn, he gave his papers to the officer standing near. Andrew started to get out but the knee of the officer was against the door, holding it closed. The officer looked at Andrew’s passport, scribbled on it, shoved the papers back and abruptly waved Andrew on. He had made it through the checkpoint in an incredible 30 seconds! Andrew was so excited to catch a spectacular glimpse of God at work!