Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Prodigal Father

“How many hired hands at my father’s place have more than enough to eat, while here I am starving!” Luke 15:17

The “Parable of the Prodigal Son” is one of the most famous stories from the Bible. What is the meaning of prodigal? It can mean wasteful, extravagant, improvident, excessive, and reckless. We can say that this is the Parable of the Prodigal Father as well. The father in the story was sinned against by the younger son when the son asked for his share of the inheritance, in effect wishing his father dead. The father gave the son what he asked for and set him free. After the son “devoured his wealth with harlots”, he came back in remorse wishing only to be hired by the father. But no! The prodigal father welcomed him with a largesse of love and mercy. 

There are those who believe that President Duterte is God’s anointed for the Philippines, and that is why we should not criticize him and just support him in what he is doing. But in the story of the prodigal son, we see that God allows us to choose, He gives us the freedom to do what we want, just as He gave Israel a King when they clamoured for one, in effect rejecting Him as King over them. Here in the Philippines, when President Duterte was a candidate, 16 million Filipinos chose him disregarding all the signs that he would not be a blessing to us. Even he said it, “Don’t elect me as President. I don’t want to kill people.” 

Just as the father in the parable waited for his son to come back home (Luke 15:20), and was filled with compassion for him, so too our Father waits for each of us. He waits for our whole nation to realize our sins and frailties and our rebellion against Him. Just as the father in the story rejoiced, celebrated, and invited everyone to share in his excitement, our merciful Father will be over the top delighted if we see the light, the error of our choices and return to Him. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Not a Sinner

“God, thank You that I am not a sinner like the rest of humanity...” Luke 18:11

How sad we see this division even more today. People commonly detest each other. It does not even have to be sin. It can be political or religious choices. It can be color, sexual orientation, or even where you studied. Quarrels have erupted between fraternities and murders committed. 

When I see God face to face, what will He say to me? Will He applaud and commend me, “Good job! You are not a sinner like the rest of the world!” 100% no way! I may not have murdered anyone, but I have been peeved, irritated, felt entitled and angry enough to hit someone in the heat of the moment. I have no righteous garment to wear when I appear before the Father unless I borrow one from Jesus. 

Like the tax collector in Luke 18, I can repeat, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus promised that one who is humble, knows he is a sinner, and repents, he will be justified. “Everyone who exalts Himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

Humility is difficult in the me generation where thousands of selfies are uploaded in Facebook and Instagram every minute. We are told in different ways, “Just be yourself”, “Pursue happiness”, and we forget that selfishness produces apathy towards others. That is one of the reasons we have a broken world. We need more humility, a willingness to see others, and a readiness to sacrifice for others, because those “others” are us. Jesus prayed, “May they be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us...” (John 17:21)

Friday, March 29, 2019

Return to the Lord

“Take with you words, and return to the Lord.” Hosea 14:2

The prophet Hosea was a pitiful man. His wife had left him for a life of prostitution which mirrored what Israel was doing at that time to the God who loved them. Fickle Israel left God to go after false gods. And just as Hosea continued to love his wife, going after her and finally buying her back for fifteen pieces of silver, five bushels of barley and a measure of wine, so did God not give up on Israel. 

“There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land,” the Lord accused Israel, “You curse and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another. That is why your land is not producing...Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! Look, you priests, my complaint is with you! ...My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” Hosea 4:1-6 

These charges can be made against our nation. Like Israel, God loves us very much. But we have turned away from Him, choosing a leader who blatantly defies Him and His ways. All is not lost. Just as God continually called Israel back to Him, He still loves us and wants to help get us back on track. 

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord.” In Hebrew, ‘words’ means things, realities, and the connotation is we need to repent sincerely. Rabbi Len Ben Sisi wrote that the power of repentance was so great it soars all the way up to the throne of glory. 

Yes, Lord, forgive us for abandoning You. Show us the way back to You! Father, we want to be pleasing in Your sight. Wash us clean of our iniquities, and heal our land! 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Finger Of God

“ the finger of God.” Luke 11:20

By the smallest finger of God. By the flick of the tiny finger of God. Even a small portion of Jesus’ power is enough to defeat the enemy. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus cast a demon out of a man who could not speak, and the man’s voice returned, amazing the crowd. Jesus did many miracles but some believed He did it by Satan’s power, the prince of demons. 

“A kingdom at war with itself is doomed,” Jesus reminded them. “How will it stand? If it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus warns that, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” 

Sometimes the problem is we are not fully committed to God. Instead of being solidly on His side, we sit at the sidelines. On Sundays, we go to church, and pray. We even decide to do better, to love God and neighbor. But then during the week, it’s back to our favorite sins and worldly pleasures. One man told a priest during confession, “Father, I keep confessing the same sins!” The priest responded, “What do you want, new sins??!”

God can work powerfully in us, even an ounce of His power would be enough to change us, if we are not at war with ourselves. I know many who want to stop taking drugs. But they keep going with the same friends, go to the same places where they get tempted. The same is true with other vices. To put a stop to it, we need to cut away from our lives that which lures us into sin. Then we can show Jesus we want to be on His side, not against Him. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

WOYWW: Teach Obedience

I have been trying to make flat lays so I lay my Bible and other stuff in the middle of a messy desk. The painting on the top left is one I made when my 24 year old son, Josh, was a toddler. It's one of my favorites!

“Teach them to your children and your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9

Obedience is hard. I remember when I was young, I complained to my mom, “Why are you always asking me to do things? Let the others do it.” She answered, “Because you obey.” So, as the eldest, I got more tasks than my other siblings. I was very much like the son in Matthew 21:28-32, who would say no, but who would end up doing whatever my mom wanted me to do. 

In Deuteronomy 4, we read that if we as a people observe God’s statutes, the nations around us will notice and say, “This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people!” Statutes comes from the root word meaning ‘to engrave’, and refers to permanent not arbitrary or changing rules of conduct. It is recorded for the guidance of each person and for the whole of society. 

In Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses reminded his people, “Take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live; but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” 

I believe we are in trouble today as a nation because we have forgotten to obey God and follow His statutes to love Him with our whole heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-39)

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



Tuesday, March 26, 2019


“We are diminished more than any other people’s, and we are brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins.” Daniel 3:37

When I read this description of Jerusalem during the time of the Jewish exile, I felt that Daniel was writing about the Philippines. King Nebuchadnezzar took many Jews to Babylon as captives, and the treasure of their temple was seized. Just a couple of years ago, the Philippines was hailed by the World Bank and other international institutions as the rising tiger of Asia, no longer the sick man of Asia. Motoo Konishi, the World Bank country director of the Philippines said, “The fight against corruption is being waged with determination and it is paying off. We welcome the scaling up of expenditures of health, education and social protection. We are seeing infrastructure spending going up, and being more strategic and efficient.” We were “Asia’s bright spot”. 

We cannot say that any longer. We are more of a dark spot with our diminished image with international rights organizations, including the UN. We are one of the ‘worst offenders’ in terms of graft and corruption and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region. 

We can pray with Azariah, the companion of Daniel while they were held captive in Babylon. “Do not take your mercy from us, O Lord! We are reduced , O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins....With contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received as though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks. Let our sacrifice be in Your presence today as we follow You unreservedly; for those who trust in You cannot be put to shame. And now we follow You with our whole heart, we fear You and we pray to You. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in Your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by Your wonders, and bring glory to Your name, O Lord.” 

Let us claim this prayer for our own. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Thy Will be Done

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

I wonder how many times I’ve said, “Your will be done, O Lord”. Very few I believe. I have read and seen movies of this true revelation about Mary visited by Angel Gabriel more times than I can count. Because it is so familiar, I can take for granted the elements of the story. Mary is a very young and innocent young girl when this happened, even if she was betrothed to Joseph. That an angel appears is already awe-inspiring for Gabriel is no cherub, but a mighty archangel of revelation who can explain visions and defend people. Here he carries an important message from God that changes the world. Mary will conceive, he says, and bear a Son who shall be named Jesus.  “He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” The angel explains, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” 

The ordinary reaction to such an announcement would be speechlessness. Or “Whaaat?! Me?! I’m not worthy!” Or “I’m too busy! Give the responsibility to someone else!” Or “Why me? Why now?” in a lament. Isn’t that usually the case when we are given an assignment, mission or responsibility in our church or community? Very few of us would say, like Mary, “Behold, I am the handmade of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your Word.” 

The truth is we all are given the assignment to carry Jesus into our world, our homes, schools, offices, neighbourhoods, the noisy marketplace. We need to bring Jesus even into Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Just like Mary, each Christian is supposed to give flesh to Jesus wherever we go. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Go out into all the world, and preach the good news!” Someone said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Can we, like Mary, do our assignment? 

Sunday, March 24, 2019


“...he came in search of fruit.” Luke 13:6

Just as in Jesus’ parable, the owner of the orchard inspects his trees for fruit, God also expects to find fruit in us. The orchard owner tells the gardener, “For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down! Why should it exhaust the soil, intercept the sun and take up room?” 

Then the gardener says to him, “Sir, leave it for another year. I shall cultivate the ground around it, and put manure on the soil. It may bear fruit in the future. If not you can have it cut down.” 

Isn’t Jesus our gardener? He prunes us so we will flourish, He feeds us, He nurtures us with His Word and His promises. He even gave up His life for us. If we do not bear fruit, He will try again and again, just so we do not become like the chaff separated from the wheat which will be burned up in never-ending fire (Matthew 3:12)

Thank You Jesus, for Your patience with me! Thank You that You do not give up on me easily. Help me bear fruit for the Father! 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Not a Slave

“...he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.” Luke 15:13

We know the story of the prodigal son, his father and the “righteous” son who became angry when his father welcomed the prodigal back with a party. I can relate more to the older son who stayed behind to help take care of the estate, fulfilling all the orders of his father. I would probably feel the same way if I got home after a hard day at work to find a party in full swing because my younger sibling came home after squandering HALF the inheritance! Yes, I would definitely feel bad if after years of being obedient and dutiful, I was never even given a “young goat” to celebrate with my friends!

But what is wrong with my way of thinking? I am thinking like a slave, a hired hand. If I wanted a goat, or even a “fatted calf”, it was mine for the asking! The father said in amazement, “My child, you are with me always! Everything I have is yours...” I must ask myself, “How do I think of myself before the Father? Am I His beloved daughter? Or do I think of myself as bound by rules and commandments? Am I free or am I a slave?” In Galatians 4:7, St. Paul writes, “You are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.”

It is important to know the truth, that we are beloved, surrounded by blessing and grace. If we know that, we will be more generous and loving with others. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Behind the Scenes

“Here comes the master dreamer!” Genesis 37:19

It’s easy to feel hopeless and desperate if we focus on the darkness that hovers on the horizon. The news is filled with violence, corruption, so much bad news. A young girl gets raped, her skin torn off her face. What kind of people would do such an evil, perverted act? Instead of getting less, the drug menace seems to be getting worse. Is there hope for our country? Many of my friends are thinking of immigrating and leaving this telenovela of a country. 

Reading about Joseph in Genesis 37-50, we see that the New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New, as St. Augustine perceptively observed. Joseph and Jesus’ stories have parallels that can’t be coincidence. Both were beloved of their fathers and both were sent, “Get ready, I will send you to them.” Both Joseph and Jesus were stripped of their robes and betrayed with a few pieces of silver. Joseph ended up in a cistern and Jesus an empty tomb, only to rise up and save their people. 

When all seems dark and hopeless, we only have to see how God works behind the scenes. He sees the big picture of our lives, our country, and our world. While the enemy plots our downfall, God will use the broken pieces for our victory. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans (8:28)

Thursday, March 21, 2019


“They will not be convinced...” Luke 16:31

Many of us live our lives with no thought of heaven and hell, angels or devils. We forget about all that, in the busyness, the stress of everyday life. We get reminded if we go to mass or service maybe, if we’re paying attention, and not allowing our mind to wander around. 

Here we have Jesus telling a story to the Pharisees who are listening to Him. There is a very rich man who is UNNAMED. Lying at his door is Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores that the dogs would lick. When Lazarus died, he was carried away by angels to heaven. When the rich man died, he went straight to hell. What was his sin? Jesus did not say he stole, he lied, he cheated, he killed, he committed adultery. What sent him to hell? The unnamed rich man ignored Lazarus at his doorstep. He went about his life wearing fine garments and eating good food and did not give any to Lazarus. 

When I ignore the needs of others around me, I am that rich man who is nameless in Jesus’ eyes. In His reckoning, He does not know me, even if the world gives me plenty of awards and citations. Even if I am powerful and rich and famous, Jesus will say, “I do not know you.”

“I never knew you. Depart from Me,” Jesus said clearly in Matthew 7:21-23. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Let us make sure Jesus knows our name, by opening our eyes to see the world around us, paying attention to the needs and the cries of the poor, the sick, the hungry, the ones in prison. When we help them, let us make sure to ask their names. After all, Jesus knows and loves them. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

WOYWW: You Do Not Know

Here’s what’s on my work desk this morning. Markers, rubber stamps, paints and paper to collage. 

“You do not know what you are asking!” 
Matthew 20:22

God Almighty Father, we plead with You about our country. Have mercy on us, Lord. Our leaders are wasting our money, our resources. They do not care about our people, Lord. They remove a big chunk of the budget for education and health and put a huge amount of resources into the confidential and intelligence funds of the President. They announce a narco-list without any evidence and expect those listed to provide proof of innocence! They get into contracts that put the future of our children in peril. 

O Lord, please hear our prayers and save us! Have mercy on us, O Lord! Do we not know what we are asking? Are we asking for too much, are we asking too late? The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached You and asked that You let her sons sit at Your side in the Kingdom. She did not know what she was asking for. You asked if they could drink the chalice You were going to drink. 

What chalice do we need to drink, Lord, for You to save us from ignorance, blindness, greed, sycophancy and selfishness? Please take this cup away, O Lord! It’s just too disheartening and sad. 

Teach us what to do O Lord! Is it sackcloth and ashes? 

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



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Covenant with God

“I have made a covenant with my chosen one.” Psalm 89:3

I find it amazing that God chose to bind Himself with an imperfect people, a people He knew would sin again and again and again. A people who would reject Him again and again and again. He knew that for sure. It happened with Adam and Eve, it happened with Noah, it happened with Abraham, and Moses and David. It continually happens with me 😭. And yet God persists. He binds Himself to me in an unequal yoke. 

Usually contracts are made when parties can exchange something of value. What can I give the Creator of the Universe? What does He want from me? His gifts far exceed what I deserve! What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me? (Psalm 116:12) This Lent, I can look for ways to give Him my heart, my love, and to be more faithful to His call. He deserves nothing less. 

I used to enjoy playing Monopoly, having so much money to buy up the best locations for my hotels and railroads. But after the game, that paper money is worthless. The same is true with the money we work so hard to acquire here on earth. The same is true for whatever we accomplish here on earth. Popularity, the number of cars we have, the nice dresses, all worthless. God calls us to love and serve His people, to give food to the hungry, to visit the inmates in the crowded jails, to pray for each other. These are the commodities that will give us treasures in heaven. God has made a covenant and He will fulfill His part of the bargain! 

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Secret

“Give and gifts will be given to you, a good measure packed together, shaken down, and overflowing will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” Luke 6:37-38

Everyone loves a good secret and this is the juiciest secret of all time. The measure of our generosity to God and to others will be the same measure God will use for us. Although it is not good to give expecting something in return, I believe it is good to test God in this. 

It says in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

I personally know a man, who because of some difficulty with finances, wanted to go abroad to see if he would fare better there. His wife, who did not want to live in another country, suggested he tithe. "Try it! Test the Lord!" she said. He did, and now he has a very successful practice. He receives over and above what he needs. For myself, I have found that whatever I give to the Lord or to others, comes back to me a hundredfold. Whether it be my time, my talents, my money or my resources. God has been extraordinarily generous with me.

God's economy, the way He does things is so diametrically different from the way the world operates. That's why the world is in such a mess. We grab for things we want. We hoard, we keep, we hide, we protect. Oh, if only I could remember this secret every minute, every second of my day!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Listen to Him

"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; LISTEN TO HIM." Luke 9:35

In a letter he wrote shortly before his death, Saint Peter reminisces about when he Himself witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus. He writes that, “we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen His majestic splendor with our own eyes. And He received honor and glory from God the Father when God’s glorious, majestic voice called down from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son. I am fully pleased with Him.’ We ourselves heard the voice when we were there with Him on the holy mountain.” 

Saint Peter continues, “Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place...” 

This awesome experience made an incredible impact on the lives of Peter, James and John.  They each saw a glimpse of the glory beyond the cross. It was INSIDER INFORMATION and Saint Peter is telling us that, “We were EYEWITNESSES of His majesty! WE OURSELVES HEARD this voice from heaven!!! You HAVE to be attentive to this message!"

How urgent can that be? The message was so compelling that Saint Peter wanted to spread the message far and wide until he was martyred in Rome in the year 64 AD. Saint Peter said “Pay attention to what the prophets wrote.” Why? Saint Augustine said, “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.”

Are we paying attention? Are we listening? 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Peculiarly His Own

“ are to be a people peculiarly His own...” Deuteronomy 26:18

This morning, it is raining, and I especially appreciate the rain today! I can imagine that our grass and the plants are hungrily “drinking” the drops. When I woke up this morning, there was water coming out of our faucets! I could take a leisurely bath and shampoo my hair! We have been praying the “Oratio Imperata Ad Fluvian Petendam” asking the Lord to give us rain. For days now, there has been no water coming out of our taps. There have been lines of people waiting with buckets and any kind of container for a water truck to pass by and give them water. 

A storm of controversy has erupted regarding the water crisis. Whether or not  it is “fake” or “contrived” by corrupt men with dishonorable intentions, the rain falls on them as well. In Matthew 5, Jesus tells His disciples that we should love our enemies, and pray for those who give us a hard time, that way we will be children of God. He makes the sun rise both on evil men and His faithful people. He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust. Jesus says, “Be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” How can we be perfect? We with our pettiness, our weaknesses and idiosyncrasies? This seems impossible! Perfect comes from a root word that means “hitting the mark”. To be perfect means we absolutely hit the mark, to be exactly what God wants us to be. It may be impossible to our way of thinking, but with God as our partner, He will make a way. After all, He said that He has began a good work in us, and He will finish what He has started (Philippians 1:6). And all because we are a people peculiarly His own! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Hurt People Hurt People

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment’. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment...” Matthew 5:21-22

Last Wednesday, President Duterte directed his ire at Senatorial candidate Mar Roxas, pronouncing, “You’re nothing. I can even shoot you for free.” He continued to insult Roxas by saying he had no loyalty and was just good for being a traffic aide. I do not see the President’s heart, but Jesus Himself says in Matthew 12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart,  the mouth speaks.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. The words you say now reflect your fate then; either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned.” 

We have to be careful of our words, but even more, we have to watch our heart. We have to fill our heart with gratitude, and look at the good in people, otherwise we will become embittered and hopeless, and the words we speak, will reflect that. What makes a man like the President, who is so powerful and successful in the eyes of the world, pummel and threaten others?

“Hurt people hurt people and they hurt themselves even more.” I thought this was said by Mother Teresa, but I can’t find the reference, and can’t find the author. If we are hurting, we need healing. We need to be made whole, or we spread the hurt to others. We say things we regret, we can say things we don’t mean, and there’s a snowball effect in our lives and the lives of others we cannot mend easily. It may be painful, but it is best to reveal the wounds, and clean it with  swabs of forgiveness.