Tuesday, April 30, 2019

One Heart

“There was a certain Levite from Cyprus named Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (meaning “son of encouragement”)...” Acts 4:36

Joseph, or Barnabas as he was fondly called by the community, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles. He was not the only one who did this. Those who owned property or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sale to the Apostles so they could distribute to those who needed food and water. 

Last night my niece showed me pictures of the Aetas in Floridablanca, Pampanga. They are part of a mission our community is helping. They are an extremely poor but happy people of about 100 families. In the last earthquake, their homes which are very flimsy, were flattened to the ground. Now they are in need of temporary shelter for some of them, with their children, are sleeping in the open air with their pigs. They also need food and water. 

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32) How wonderful if this was a reality today and we could be generous with our brothers and sisters, the Aetas, and many others we encounter living lives of desperation. Then, others would fondly call us, ‘sons and daughters of encouragement’! 

 If you would like to help, please deposit to Timothy ABELLO, BPI account 824000745 and email me at patsy.paterno at gmail.com, so I can coordinate. ANY AMOUNT welcome. God will multiply!

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Wind Blows Where it Will

“The wind blows where it wills...” John 3:8

If we want to make a difference in the world, we need the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Nicodemus in John, chapter 3, “You can hear the sound the wind makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” We never know whom God will touch and move. 

I recently read the New York Times best seller “same kind of different as me”, a true story written by an international art dealer, a modern-day slave and convict from Louisiana, and the amazing woman who brought them together. The art dealer, Ron Hall, had been unfaithful to his wife Debbie, and to make up for it, he joined her serving the poor in Union Gospel Mission located in the nasty part of Fort Worth. 

Debbie dreamt of the mission several times, and there was a man in it. “It was like that verse in Ecclesiastes. A wise man who changes the city. I saw his face.” That man was Denver Moore, a black man who kept mostly to himself, hardened by living on the streets for 22 years. When Debbie recognized Denver as the man in her dream, she made her husband promise to befriend him. He did. It wasn’t easy because Denver tried his best to avoid this do-gooder rich couple. 

Denver Moore and Ron Hall

Eventually, Denver would confide in Ron and Debbie, and they found beneath his thick hide, a strong spirit, a staunch loyalty and deep understanding. “He claimed in his solitude to have heard from God.” Through his friendship with the Halls, he was inspired to help in the mission and down in the Lot, one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. He would also sing in chapel service, and was “forced” to go on a retreat with what he called “white ladies”! 

The Deborah Hall Memorial Chapel, Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth, Texas

Fast forward to when Debbie got a vicious form of cancer, and while fighting for her life, Denver would give them a Word from God. One of the last ones when Debbie was very weak and tired, Denver told her she needn’t fight any longer. God said she could lay down the torch and that Denver would take it up. During Debbie’s memorial service, Denver spoke and said Debbie was the “onlyest person who looked past my skin...” While he was speaking, people were crying and laughing and clapping, and after he left the podium, the entire congregation stood and applause thundered. A fundraising drive started for a new mission facility and new chapel. So much money was raised for the mission in a very short time. Denver and Ron went around telling their story around the country, and inspired people to donate about $70 million to causes related to homelessness. The wind blew where it willed!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Writing Our Gospel

“But these things have been written, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and so that, in believing, you may have life in his name.” John 20:32

John wrote so much, and at the end of his gospel he said, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if each of these were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not be able to contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Each of us, as believers in Jesus Christ, should be writing our own gospel. If we truly believe in Him, if we use the gift of the Spirit and the many other gifts God has generously given us, we can for sure continue the Acts of the Apostles in our own life. 

How many times have we prayed for others, laid hands on them even, and they were healed, or passed exams, or their situation got better? How many people have we listened to, cried with, tried to understand, who got comforted with the love of Christ in us? How many people have we helped with our gifts and resources, with our time or money? 

We are God’s hands, God’s feet, God’s heart, God’s presence on earth. Jesus Christ is still continuing His saving work, through us. We just need to be more aware of it, and more sensitive to the little and big things we can do. Nothing is impossible in God who is the source of our strength, our peace, our love. The more we give, the more we will have.

Saturday, April 27, 2019


“What shall we do with these men?” Acts 4:16

I can understand the quandary of the high priests, rulers, and Sadducees. A man who had been lame since birth could now walk because Peter and John proclaimed, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” They brought the disciples for questioning after throwing them in jail. “By what power, or in what name have you done this?” 

Oh that was exactly the question Peter was waiting for! “Let it be known that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead- by THIS NAME this man stands here before you in good health!” 

Now the high priests knew these men as ordinary, uneducated, and untrained. What happened to make them so bold, confident, unafraid? They threatened them, warned and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 

Peter and John instead of cowering in fear, rebuked them. “Whether it be right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is IMPOSSIBLE for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard!” 

How about us? Whom are we obeying? Is it impossible for us not to speak about God and how good He is to us? Are we continuing the work of the disciples here on earth? Sometimes the world makes it difficult for us to spread the good news- it’s corny, it’s passé, so old fashioned and uncool! Shouldn’t we prefer to obey Jesus rather than men? “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Fishers of Men

“It is the Lord!” John 21:7

After the crucifixion, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, twice to the disciples meeting behind a locked door in fear, and then at the Sea of Galilee. 

Several of the disciples were there- Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee as well as others who all went fishing. They caught nothing all night. When they went towards the shore at dawn, they saw Jesus standing on the beach but they could not recognize Him. He instructed them to throw their net on the right-hand side of the boat, which was a reminder to Peter of the first time he met Jesus. 

When they obeyed Jesus’ instructions, they caught so much fish they could not draw in the net. They recognized the Lord and ate breakfast with Him. 

In Luke 5:10, Jesus told Peter, “From now on, you’ll be fishers of men”. Indeed, the net full of fish may symbolize the Church. There are so many Christians in the world but the net is not torn. There is so much new life in the Church. Who could have imagined that a rag tag group of men who hid behind locked doors would be able to evangelize thousands, and those thousands would reach thousands more, and in 2018, we would be 2.2 billion Christians in the world? And who would predict that the highest growth of Christianity today would be so far from the Sea of Galilee, in Sub-Saharan Africa? 

It can only be the work of the Lord in those   inexperienced men. And the work will continue, even with all the scandals and immorality, if we put our faith and hope in Him who is the source of our strength and life. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

With Great Joy

“And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy...” Matthew 28:8

After the Sabbath, it was still dawn when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. What they found was inexplicable, the heavy stone was rolled away, and an angel whose appearance was like lightning, said to them, “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” 

The resurrection of Jesus? Fact or fiction? One would think that most skeptics would debunk Jesus’ resurrection with theories like mass hallucination or the idea that He did not really die, but they can’t. Our belief in Jesus’ resurrection is based on eyewitness accounts written by men willing to die for it. Those men, Peter, James and John, knew the truth. They saw Jesus. They preached it, and they were able to convince so many others by the power of their conviction. St. Paul, a skeptic, became a Christian three years after Jesus’ death. 

Bart Ehrman, a very well known skeptic, a non-Christian, says, "Paul got to interview Peter and James. I'd like to interview Peter and James. This is as close to eye witness testimony as we can get. It's very close to eye witness testimony.” 

Another proof of the resurrection is the gospel account tells us that WOMEN discovered the empty tomb. Women in those times couldn’t give a testimony in court. They were second class citizens. They were not considered credible witnesses. If the story was made up, it would never have included women as the first to be at the scene. And then there were the radical transformations of Peter, who went from coward to a champion of the truth, James who thought Jesus was crazy to the leader of the Jerusalem
Church, and countless others martyrs of the faith. 

God made sure that what we believe in is based on defendable facts. There is so much more evidence about Jesus and His life, death and resurrection, than there is about Julius Caesar and Alexander! Yes, Jesus is risen! Alleluia! 

Touch Me

“Touch me, and see...” Luke 24:39

Jesus did not expect the disciples to believe in Him with blind faith. He showed them His hands and feet and bade them to touch Him. “...it is I, Myself. Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 

The disciples marveled and were amazed. We too can marvel and be amazed for our faith is based on evidence. We do not believe in a god invented by man, or is a delusion as the new atheists insist. In an informal survey conducted in Hong Kong University, it was found that a majority of students believe that the world is a better place if people believe in God, even in a fictional god! Many people today believe that God is irrelevant, unimportant. I should think that we should want to discover for ourselves if God is real or an idea invented by man! 

The Hebrew God is unlike any other in that He is the creator of the universe, but He broke into our world because He made us in His image and values each and every one of us. That is the reason for the cross, the most horrible punishment created by the perverted mind of man. Jesus hung on the cross, humiliated, beaten and bruised, the lamb sacrificed for you and me. 

Irrelevant? We need to do better than that! There are things that are relevant for our life that we know nothing about, the square root of minus one for instance, which is one reason why we have smart phones. While I may never understand the concept of imaginary numbers, I can know Jesus because He wants me to know Him and the finished work on the cross. I can know Jesus by reading the Bible, and praying that He reveal Himself to me. I can know Jesus by reading dozens of historical writings by both Jews and Romans found on the internet. God made sure that the life and death of Jesus is amazingly documented. Yes, Jesus is still saying today, “Touch me, and see...” 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

WOYWW: Burning Hearts

I’ve been busy. Last night I started on the backgrounds of 5 crosses. 

This morning I used one of the crosses for my flatlay. 

Some of you asked me last time what a flat lay is. 
Here's one definition: "A flat is basically when you’re shooting items from directly above. Usually those items will be arranged or styled on a flat surface."
Below you can see my flat lay.

“Were not our hearts burning within us...”  Luke 24:32
Cleopas and another disciple were on the road to Emmaus, which was 7 miles from Jerusalem. We can imagine them very sad and confused, talking about Jesus the prophet, and how He was crucified. When a stranger joined them, they did not recognize that He was Jesus Himself. “We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. It is the third day since all these things happened,” they explained to Him.
Jesus then illumined the scriptures, beginning with Moses and all the prophets and how it foreshadowed His life and death. “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me...For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me.” (John 5:39, 46)
There is much in the Old Testament that parallels the life of Christ. In the life of Moses alone, there are so many similarities. Both Jesus and Moses were born during the reign of ruling tyrants who ordered the murder of Hebrew baby boys. Both Moses and Jesus were saved, came out of Egypt through water, and ended up in the desert. In the desert, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, just as Moses did in Mount Sinai. Jesus was tested by Satan in the desert, just as Israel was severely tested in their wanderings. 
After Moses spent 40 days fasting on Mt. Sinai, he came down to bring the Jews the commandments of the covenant. After Jesus’ time in the desert, He began His public ministry with the law of the new covenant, the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7. Jesus’ first miracle was turning the water in stone jars into wine in Cana. Moses’ first sign was turning all the water in Egypt, even the water in stone jars, into blood. Moses chose 12 men to enter into the promised Land and 70 elders to assist him. Jesus chose 12 apostles and 70 missionary disciples. Both Moses and Jesus were transfigured on a mountaintop. 
Indeed when we consider all these and more, our hearts burn, knowing that God put into place a plan for our salvation, a plan put into place thousands of years ago! During the Passover, Christ called the cup of His blood, “my blood of the Covenant”. When Moses sealed the Covenant at the foot of Mt. Sinai, he sacrificed animals and threw the blood on the people and the altar. He said in Exodus 24:8, “Behold the blood of the Covenant which the Lord has made with you”. 
Jesus is the lamb who was slain for you and for me. 

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



Tuesday, April 23, 2019

I Have Seen the Lord!

“I have seen the Lord!” Mary went and announced to the disciples. (John 20:18)

We may think we have very few occasions in which to proclaim this. Some will even say they have never seen the Lord. I know someone who was visited by Jesus when she was young and sick in bed. And then there is the star sportscaster, Nick Charles, who died of bladder cancer. He too was visited by Jesus who sat with him while he was struggling with pain. “It wasn’t a hallucination,” he said. He told Jesus he was ready to go home, but Jesus said, “Not yet.”

During Holy Week, I saw a Facebook post of Mel Gibson talking to a bloody and battered Jim Caviezel, who acted the part of Jesus in the blockbuster movie, “The Passion of the Christ”. Mel Gibson looked like he was having a deep conversation with Jesus. The thing is, Jesus is always waiting for us to talk to Him. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) That is a promise we should claim again and again. To make a friend of Jesus who is willing to get bloodied and battered for us! If we open the door every day, one day we will say with excitement, “I have seen the Lord and it was awesome!”

Sunday, April 21, 2019


“Were not our hearts burning inside us?” Luke 24:32

After the horrendous crucifixion on Good Friday, two of Jesus’ disciples walked to Emmaus. They were conversing and debating for much of what happened was confusing and dismaying to them. A stranger came and joined them. They did not know it was Jesus, and after they recounted what had happened with downcast spirits, Jesus admonished them, “Why do you find it so hard to believe all the prophets wrote in the scriptures? Wasn’t it all clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering His time of glory?” Then, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures. I would have liked to be in on that conversation and take down notes! 

For Lent, I have been watching “Genesis to Jesus” a 12-part series of St. Paul Center, a journey through the Old Testament to the New. It is a view of our salvation history, God’s love for us, from the time of Adam, through to the time of Noah, Moses, Abraham, and King David to Jesus, the new Moses and the true son of Abraham and David. It is amazing how the Old Testament foreshadows the life and death of Jesus. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus would have told Cleopas and the other disciple some of these parallels. 

Just as Abraham was asked to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and Isaac had to carry the wood upon which he would be sacrificed up Mount Moriah, God the Father gave His only beloved Son for atonement of our sins. Like Isaac, Jesus had to carry the wood of the sacrifice, His cross, up to Calvary. When Isaac asked his father, “What will we sacrifice?”, Abraham answered, “God will provide Himself the lamb.” Just as Abraham received his son back from a sentence of death three days after the command was given, because it was a three day journey to Moriah, so Jesus rises on the third day. There is so, so much in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Kings, etc. that have parallels in Jesus’ life! It is amazing!!!! 

In Christ, all God’s promises to Abraham, Moses and David are fulfilled. We now have a New Covenant and we can claim God’s promises for ourselves. Truly, if we realize how hard God worked and is working for us to be together with Him in His Kingdom, we will be humbled. Rejoice, Easter people, our King is risen! He is risen indeed!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Are You Jesus’ Disciple?

“Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?” John 18:16

Later this afternoon, in our community’s Good Friday service, I will read this one line. When we were practicing, I was told I had to place myself in the story. There is much emotion in the situation. An accused man is bound and brought to the High Priest. Simon Peter and another disciple followed but Peter was left outside the gate. The other disciple went to speak to the maid who was guarding the gate. When she let Peter in, she accused, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”

She probably squinted at him in the darkness, the only light coming from the fire where the slaves and guards were warming themselves. She wasn’t merely curious. If she was in the employ of the High Priest, she was on his side, and anyone against him was suspect. What was this man, Simon Peter, about? He better be careful because she was watching him. 

But Peter’s immediate reaction was, “No, I

am not this man’s disciple!” What would our reaction be? If we were in the middle of a crowd of non- believers? If, like a friend of mine, we were invited to an unsavory place by an important client of our company? If, like my grandfather, we had the opportunity to choose any valuable property we wanted? He was a clerk in city hall, but he did not grab at the chance, knowing it was wrong. 

Everyday we are given the opportunity to show Jesus and the world that we are His disciples. To love or to be indifferent. To be kind or to be petty. To be generous or to keep what we have for ourselves. To stand up for what is right or to be silent in the face of injustice. To serve or to be selfish. 

If someone has to ask, “Are you one of Jesus’ disciples?”, that means we are standing outside the gate, wavering. Let us make sure everyone knows on whose side we are. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Beauty for Ashes

“...beauty for ashes...” Isaiah 61:3

This is one of the most beautiful promises in the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah’s ministry spanned 60 years and four kings. He lived through war and the destruction of Israel. But his prophecies were always about rescue and restoration. 

“...to provide for those who grieve in Zion, a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness in place of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” When Jesus went to the synagogue on a Sabbath, he read these same verses from the passage of Isaiah. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Jesus rolled up the scroll and sat down. “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

For hundreds of years, the Jews had been waiting for their Messiah. They expected a King in resplendent robes with a mighty army. Jesus came in peasant garb and sandals and a walking stick. Today He walks among us, and many people still ignore His presence. He may be the beggar with a misshapen face on the overpass. He may be the autistic child in the corner shunned by his classmates. He may be one of the 5000 prisoners in overcrowded QC jail. He may be anyone who needs us to bring him glad tidings and good news. 

Before Jesus left, He instructed, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.” If we obey, we will have the joy of giving beauty for ashes, gladness instead of  mourning, thanksgiving instead of despair. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Matthew 26:25

Each of the twelve disciples asked Jesus, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”, when He claimed that one of them would betray Him. They became deeply distressed by the thought. These days I am dismayed when those who profess to be Christians support our Philippine President’s way of fighting the drug menace in our country. Instead of rehabilitating suspected drug addicts, they are summarily killed. Obviously the strategy is so unsuccessful, even the President admits the problem is worse than when he took office. 

Aren’t those who approve of extrajudicial killings, and the President’s way of solving crime, a betrayal of Christ? Jesus’ way is love and He gave Himself for the atonement of my sin and the sin of each one of those who were killed in this unjust drug war. 

“God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27) And that means each and everyone of us has an inherent value and dignity. We are not a a clump of dirt to be disposed of. We are not just atoms accidentally pulled together. God made us for a purpose, and He gave us freedom. Freedom to follow Him or freedom to betray Him. This Holy Week is a good time to reflect upon the ways, big or little, that we betray our God who made us in His own image and likeness. 

Lord, may You reveal Your saving power to each one of us, and help us realize in what ways we have betrayed You for the ways and thinking of the world. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Christ the Messiah

“...my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

God’s ways are indeed different than man’s ways. For centuries He prepared His chosen people for a Messiah that was to come and save them from oppression. He made many promises through the prophets. To David, He said, “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever.” God promised Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his offspring because Abraham obeyed His voice (Gen. 22:18). Among the many promises God gave Moses, He said that He would defend His people from all her enemies. 

Those promises and many more were all fulfilled in Jesus. The Jewish people rejected Him because they were expecting  a Savior to free them from the oppression of the Romans. He came to atone for all our sins and free all humanity from the bondage of the evil one. This week we can journey with a different kind of king, who puts others first before Himself, and who paid a huge price to save His people. Let us give Him a home in our hearts. He deserves nothing less. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Fragrance Up to Heaven

“The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” John 12:3

Jesus liked visiting his friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He went to see them in Bethany before proceeding to Jerusalem for His Last Supper. Martha served dinner, Lazarus sat at the table with Him, and Mary did something special for Him. She took a 12 ounce jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard, and anointed Jesus’ dusty feet. She wiped His feet with her hair, and the whole house was filled with the aroma of this amber-colored essential oil. 

If we would like to do something crazy extravagant for Jesus, what would it be? He said that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for Him. In the Philippines, we are surrounded by many children in the streets selling sampaguita. Perhaps we can invite them to a nice lunch? They will never be able to repay us. I know a man inflicted with the terrible disease of Arteriovenous Malformation. His blood is flowing in all the wrong places and his face is so malformed, he cannot work. Search “Buddy Cabural” on google if you want to help. Whatever we decide to do for one or two of the least of Jesus’ friends this Holy Week, we can be sure that the fragrance will reach up to heaven.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Ascent to Jerusalem

“Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” Luke 19:28

I was reading the spiritual reflection of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and he had this to say: “Being Christian is a path or, better, a pilgrimage; it is to travel with Jesus Christ, to journey in the direction He has pointed out and is pointing out to us. 

“But what direction is this? How do we find it? Our Gospel passage offers clues in this regard. In the first place it says it is an ascent. This has first of all a very concrete meaning. Jericho, where the last part of Jesus’ pilgrimage began, is 250 meters below sea-level: a climb of almost 1000 meters. But this external route is above all an image of the internal movement of existence that occurs in the following of Christ; it is an ascent to the true heights of being human. Man can choose an easy path and avoid every effort. He can also sink to the low and vulgar. He can flounder in the swamps of falsehood and dishonesty. Jesus walks before us and towards the heights. He leads us to what is great, pure. He leads us to that healthy air of the heights: to life in accordance with the truth; to courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of prevalent opinions; to patience that bears with and sustains the other. He guides people to be open to suffering, to those who are neglected. He leads us to stand loyally by the other, even when the situation becomes difficult. He leads us to the readiness to give help; to the goodness that does not let itself be disarmed, even by ingratitude. He leads us to love; He leads us to God.” 

Let us go with Jesus, up to Jerusalem, this Holy Week, and all the weeks of our life.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

My People

“I will make with them a covenant of peace, it shall be an everlasting covenant...” Ezekiel 37:26

What mighty, all powerful person will persist in making agreements with someone who has proven to be unreliable again and again? Only God. The Israelites continued to disobey God, worship idols from their own hands, complain against Him, and marry women from other peoples. God asked Moses to lead them to the Promised Land when they repented for the nth time, and said, “But I will not travel with you, for you are an unruly, stubborn people. If I were there among you for even a moment, I would destroy you.” (Exodus 33:3,5)

Yikes! I can imagine God saying this to me sometimes when I keep repeating the same sins. Or saying this to our whole country! “I will not walk with You because you are unruly, stubborn, disobedient and blind. If I were walking among you even for a short time, I will destroy you.” And who could blame Him?”

But just as He kept calling Israel to be His own, He never gives up on us. The whole Bible is His love song for us. It is not only His way for us to know His laws and commandments, but also His way for us to get to know Him and His love for us. 

“I will be Your God and You will be my people!” (Ezekiel 37:27) Yes, irregardless of how many times we have broken faith with Him! 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Mighty Champion

“But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion...” Jeremiah 20:11

We will never be able to grasp how high, how wide, how deep is our God’s love for us. He really is our mighty champion who never ever gives up on us, even when we give up on ourselves. Sometimes we feel disappointed in ourselves for having failed in some way, or sinned, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. God waits always by our side. He doesn’t turn His back on us. 

I was singing these words from Hillsong this morning: 

“You were the Word at the beginning

One With God the Lord Most High

Your hidden glory in creation

Now revealed in You our Christ

What a beautiful Name it is

What a beautiful Name it is

The Name of Jesus Christ my King

What a beautiful Name it is

Nothing compares to this

What a beautiful Name it is

The Name of Jesus

You didn't want heaven without us

So Jesus, You brought heaven down

My sin was great, Your love was greater

What could separate us now”

When we see the vast scope of God’s mighty hand, from the Old Testament stories to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can’t help but marvel at God’s love written in large bold letters. The story of Moses and the Passover foreshadow Jesus, His death on the cross and the Eucharist. Jesus is the true Passover lamb who leads us out of spiritual bondage to a new Exodus. Just as the Hebrews who partook of the lamb as instructed by Moses, were spared from death, so too we who feed on Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist receive grace for salvation. The new Passover is Christ our champion delivering us from the bondage of sin, leading us to the true promised land of heaven! Nothing compares to this!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Covenant-Keeping God

“You and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.” Genesis 17:9

Salvation history, from Genesis to the Book of Revelation is the story of God’s family. God told Abraham that He will maintain, continue, and establish an everlasting covenant between Himself and Abraham and all Abraham’s descendants for generations to come. In the sometimes exciting, sometimes boring events in the Book of Exodus, we see how God’s covenant family becomes a nation through Moses. Even if the Egyptian Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrews, God kept His covenant promise and rescued them. 

God continues to keep His promises today. He is a covenant-keeping God. Are we a covenant-keeping people? That would mean we are faithful to Him even during difficult times. That we study how to please Him so we can become more and more like Him and value what He values. That we spend quality time with Him because He is first in our life. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

WOYWW: Believing and Obeying

I have not shown a picture of my messy desk recently. Here it is. 

I work out in our pocket garden and most of the time I have three cats for company! 

"Even if God whom we serve will not save us, know, O King, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statues which you set up." Daniel 3:18

In the Book of Daniel we encounter a King who decrees that all his people worship his god, and bow down before a 90 ft. tall golden statue. Everyone obeys except three Jewish young men by the name of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The King gets furious and ordered their presence before him. "I will have you thrown into the fiery furnace!!!" The three answer that their God can rescue them, but that, "Even if God whom we serve will not save us, know, O King, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statues which you set up."

How admirable that these young men put no conditions on obeying and loving God! Many people, even long time preachers, have stopped believing in God and obeying Him because God did not fit into a box of their own making. "I'm not going to believe in God anymore because what kind of a god allows people to suffer?" Or, "I'm not going to church anymore because the creation story in Genesis is b****”. The excuses can go on and on.

Twenty-one years after Charles "Chuck" Templeton became an evangelist, he declared himself an agnostic and he died an agnostic. He was quite a popular evangelist, and preached with Billy Graham. Many thought that he, not Billy Graham, would become the biggest evangelical preacher in history. Towards the end of his life, he was interviewed by Lee Strobel, the writer of "The Case for the Real Jesus". When asked about Jesus, Templeton became melancholy and said, "I adore Him. I miss Him." How sad that because Templeton couldn't explain everything in the Bible to his satisfaction, he turned away from his best friend! Lord, may I follow and obey You even during times of testing, and even when I have doubts!

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The Power of Thankfulness

“We have sinned in complaining against the Lord...” Numbers 21:7

Recently although I haven’t said them out loud, I have been guilty of complaining. When I think about it, there are a whole lot of things to complain about if that is what I choose to focus on. Yesterday my sister Peggy was with my dad. He is 92 years old and has been unhappy ever since he has been stuck in bed. So Peggy showed him a video of Nick Vujicic, a Christian evangelist born with no arms or legs. Daddy said he was better off than Nick. It matters a lot what we set our eyes on. 

In the 21st chapter of the Book of Numbers, the Israelites were tired and weary of their journey. They complained to Moses, “Why did you lead us away from Egypt, so as to die in the wilderness? Bread is lacking; there are no waters. Our soul is now nauseous over this very light food.” God was so displeased by their constant grumbling and whining that He sent serpents. When we complain, our burden gets heavier instead of lighter. When we grumble, our troubles increase. When we whine, nothing gets solved, we only displease God. 

Like the Israelites, who learned that complaining brings more bitter sorrow, we should turn to God and ask His forgiveness. Instead of focusing on what we lack or how difficult things are, we can count our blessings and see how our load gets lighter and we become wiser. Oprah Winfrey said it better, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Monday, April 08, 2019

Truth and Justice

“O eternal God, You know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be..” Daniel 13:42

The beautiful Susana is falsely accused by two lascivious old judges of having a tryst with an young man. She is condemned to death when she cries out to God. As she was being led to her execution, God stirred up the Holy Spirit in Daniel, who was still a young boy at this time. He lead the people back to court and questioned the judges separately. One judge claimed the young man was with Susana under a mastic tree, and the other claimed they were under an oak tree. Since both trees had a great difference in size, it was apparent to all that the two judges had lied, and they were both put to death. Virtue triumphed. 

It may seem today that God is sleeping, for there are a lot of lies being believed, and public money being stolen without punishment, big time criminals roam free and poor suspected drug addicts are murdered in the streets by the men supposed to protect them. 

My 92-year old father has been reminiscing a lot. He told me about his older brother, Dever, who was part of his church’ group of young men who wanted to spread the truth to combat the lies of the Japanese propaganda machine. They would listen secretly on the radio for news about the Americans and would mimeograph it. The Japanese would tell the Filipinos that the Americans were defeated and far away, when the real news was that they had landed in Lingayen and moving steadily to Manila. When found out, these brave young men were beheaded and put in a mass grave. Now my uncle Dever is honoured as a martyr in North Cemetery. 

God is searching for young men and women like Daniel and my uncle Dever who are brave enough to stand for truth and justice. Where are they today? We each need to stand for truth and justice so that God will fight for us. 

Sunday, April 07, 2019

No One Else Will Know

"Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."John 8:10-11

In John chapter 8, we meet a woman accused of adultery. Scribes and Pharisees lead her to Jesus. Can you imagine her shame, her self-loathing, how dirty she feels when they force her to stand in front of everyone?

"Teacher," they said to Him, "This woman has been caught in the act of adultery. In the law, Moses ordered such women to be stoned. (In the law, Dt. 22:24, both the man and the woman who sinned should be stoned. Where was the man?) What do You have to say?"

I imagine that I am one of the crowd. Do I condemn her and want to spit on her? Do I know her? Perhaps I knew her history and think, "Good! It's about time she gets her comeuppance!" Do I pity her? Do I continue to jostle the crowd to see what happens out of curiosity, in satisfaction, or in revulsion, my eyes glued to the scene like it is a suspenseful thriller? What did Jesus do? He bent down and started tracing the ground with His finger. How many have attempted to surmise what He wrote? Why didn't John write down what He wrote? The thing is, He wrote, not for a second or a few seconds. He wrote all throughout the persistent questioning of the Scribes and Pharisees. He ignored them and their questions.

Finally He straightened up and said, "Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her." Then He bent down and wrote on the ground again. Suddenly there is silence but for the shamed shuffling of feet. No one cast a stone, even if Jesus did not say DO NOT cast a stone in direct violation of Moses' law. I am one of the crowd, ashamed to have taken part in this poor woman's humiliation. I leave and do not know what happens next.

I believe when we sin, Jesus wants to meet us one to one. I like to think only the woman knew what Jesus wrote. Maybe John interviewed many and asked them if they knew what Jesus wrote. No one knew. But Jesus obviously thought it was important, as He spent much time writing it on the ground. Easily erased after the one it was meant for read it. When I sin, it is me and Jesus, against a condemning world. But Jesus did not come to condemn me, but to save me (Jn 3:17). When I sin, all I need is to stand, sit, kneel, or prostrate myself in front of Him. He will say, "I don't condemn you. Sin no more." And He will tell me words for me alone, no one else will know.