Friday, May 31, 2019


“And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Luke 1:43

Elizabeth, filled with the Spirit of God, marveled. Her cousin Mary had come from far away to visit her all the way into the hill country of Judah. Who was she, that the mother of our Lord would deign to find out how she was and spend some time with her? Was she that special, that significant?

Like Elizabeth, we should marvel at the truth that we are the apple of God’s eye. “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 17:8) We usually take for granted that God’s eye is upon us always. Without His attention, without His breath of life within us, we are just dust and ashes. Each one of us is special and significant. Each one of us has the imprint of God as we are created in His image and likeness. 

I heard that here in the Philippines we can have a person killed for just P5,000.00 ($96.00). It is so sad that the very people tasked to protect us, the police, are given permission to kill drug addicts and criminals by the President himself. No value is given to the lives of these all but forgotten people. But the truth is each one of them is as precious as we are to God and should be as precious to us as well. 

St. Lawrence as the archdeacon in the reign of Emperor Valerian, was ordered to turn over the treasures of the Church in three days. He quickly sold the Church’ property and distributed it to the poor, the widows and the sick. After three days, Lawrence led a crowd of poor, blind, crippled, suffering people to the door of the palace. “These are the true treasures of the Church,” he boldly proclaimed. In fury, the Emperor ordered that he be grilled on the rack that same day. 

Let us pray that we will not catch the world’s attitude of cavalierly treating the powerless and the voiceless. Sometimes animals have more rights than babies in the womb, homeless and disabled people. We should always see people through God’s eyes. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Why Lord?

“...but your grief will become joy.” John 16:20

Many things in this world grieve us. My prayer list grows longer every day. I pray for many who are very sick with cancer, two who had terrible accidents, many who are afflicted with depression and disorders, some who need livelihood, etc etc. And then how about the state the world is in, our country is in? When a relative of ours came to my dad’s wake two weeks ago, just after the elections, he said, “I’m more in mourning not for your dad who is free now, but for our country.” 

Yes, we mourn for many things. Yesterday, Luigi and I went to a wake for the parents of a good friend. His parents were murdered. It was in the news. None of us could wrap our minds around the senselessness of it all. And so I say prayers for the family who is badly in need of peace beyond understanding, overcoming grace to heal the trauma and shock and not unnaturally, anger. Please pray for them. 

Father God, why allow this? Why allow so much suffering and pain? I cannot understand just as the disciples could not understand what Jesus was telling them in John 16:16-20. “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

Yes the world rejoices and wallows in its sin. The murderer and thief was caught and in Camp Karingal, he was still laughing, perhaps under the influence of shabu. I see a video of a Senator rejoicing in his victory, dancing and laughing, even while so many doubts swirl about him and the whole electoral process. Why? 

“...but your grief will become joy,” Jesus promises. Just as we rejoice when a baby is born after a nine month burden and the intense pain of labor, we know there is a beautiful sunrise coming after the darkness of the night. That is God’s certain promise to us. We just need to be patient and wait for His time. We do not need to understand if we trust in His perfect love. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

WOYWW: Unknown God

I am not working on my desk this time. I bought a huge canvas 

and will post my progress on Facebook, Instagram and here as well. 

Last night, I finished this background. 

“What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.” 
Acts 17:23

There were many shrines in Athen, some dedicated to Aphrodite, 
goddess of beauty and love, the handsome Apollo, god of healing and arts,
 Ares, god of war and violence, Artemis, virgin goddess of the hunt and animals, 
and many many others. Paul said he looked carefully at the shrines, 
no doubt they were artistically executed, but he noticed one in particular. 
It was inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God’. “What you worship in ignorance, 
this is what I am proclaiming to you,” he told the Athenians in the Areopagus, 
or ‘Ares’ Hill’ a place where people congregated. 
Some people like Dionysius and Damaris responded and believed. 
Others scoffed when Paul started talking about the resurrection of the dead. 

Many of us pick and choose what we like from the Bible. 
When I was in U.P. High School, the Gideon Bible Society gave each of us 
in our class a cute red Bible. We had to promise to read it. 
I very eagerly started to read, and continued to read, until I reached this verse, 
“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life 
in this world will keep it for eternal life.” 
That is from the Gospel of John 12:25. 

After reading that verse which I heartily disagreed with 
because I loved my life, 
I stopped reading the Bible for several years. 
Many people like me, and like the people of Athens, 
want to make our own god. We want a god conformed
 to our own image of what God should be. 
We did not want the truth, we wanted to make our own truth. 
Happily when I was older I decided after several 
Life in the Spirit Seminars 
that I wanted to know God, really know Him, 
not my own version of God or preference. 
The “unknown God” honored my desire and my zeal to know Him. 
He spoke and made Himself available and I loved Him as my first love. 

How inconceivable that the God of the Universe, the earth and sea and sky, 
would stoop down to our level and meet us where we are! 
He WANTS us to know Him! 
If we just open up a space for Him in our hearts and lives, 
He will come in and sit with us and keep His promises! 

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



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Power of Praise

“About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God...” Acts 16:25

There is power in praising God. Many times when I feel bad I sing songs to God, sometimes in my own words. It never fails to lift up my spirits. Here in Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas land in jail after freeing a slave girl from evil spirits. She was a fortune teller and brought much money to her masters which angered them because they lost their source of income. They dragged the disciples to the chief magistrates who ordered them beaten and thrown into jail. They were put in the innermost cell with their feet fastened to a stake. 

Did they mope and feel sorry for themselves? Did they cry out to God in desperation? Did they get angry at God thinking we are doing all this for You and this is our reward? No. They prayed and sang hymns of praise to God. The prisoners were all listening and the praise was so powerful there came a great earthquake which shook the foundations of the jailhouse!!! 

When we are more desperate than desperate, when all hope is gone, what should we do? Shake heaven with our praise! This is the message of a little 96-page book entitled “Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers. He had a very tough start in life, ending up in jail for a while, when he learned the powerful practise of praising God in all circumstances, especially the difficult ones. More than 10 million copies of this book has been printed and many who followed his example have had their lives transformed. 

Jean Underfel-Babalis said, “When I first got sober 32 years ago I found this book, it revolutionized my thinking, my life, and became the basis for my recovery. I’m convinced that this book was one of the primary sources that is responsible for my being clean and sober for the past 32 years. I learned the power of praise.”

Kelly Davis shared, “I was in a cult when I first read this book 21 years ago. I was unhappy and felt very oppressed, victimized and never "good enough" . I figured I had nothing to lose so I tried it first on a nasty day when I had to stand out on a corner collecting money with a sore ankle . My praise was pretty sarcastic at first but as the day went on, I started noticing many subtle changes happening within me. I persisted and by the end of the day I felt a "joy unspeakable" I had never experienced before...I did it in Faith and obedience to His Word. When I persisted in this, something broke apart deep within me and a stronghold Satan had on me for years started crumbling.”

Praise God for another secret! The power of praise! 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Revival Starts with Me

“Lydia listened and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.” Acts 16:14

Lydia was most likely a rich woman. Thyatira, in what is now western Turkey, was famous for a particularly rich purple dye. Lydia was a merchant of purple cloth, which was probably dyed in her own place of business. She had a house big enough to invite guests like Paul and Luke to stay after she and her household were baptized. 

How did Lydia become a Christian? She listened to what Paul was saying. So simple. We should not close our mind and heart to what Godly men say. After that, God will do the rest. “The Lord opened her heart.” She allowed Paul’s words to penetrate her mind, and the Holy Spirit moved her to believe. 

These days we do not need to wait for a big Christian rally, or a famous evangelist to visit from abroad, or a spirit filled healer. Youtube is full of amazing preaching. From the powerful stories of Ravi Zacharias, to the Catholic apologetics of Dr. Brandt Pitre, from the conversion stories of Steve Ray and Scott Hahn to the oh so interesting teachings of Christine Caine and Priscilla Shirer. I listen to them all. I am praying for revival in our country, but revival has to start with me. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019


“Whoever loves me will keep my word..."

John 14:23

If we read the Bible, savor the words we read, observe them, obey, we will love as Jesus loved. His words are life giving, and "will not return to Him void". His words will bear fruit, WE will bear fruit. It is inevitable! 

Yes, Lord, help me to plant Your word in my heart, so that I will be fruitful, and be a blessing to others! 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

My Jerusalem

“...but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” Acts 16:7

In 1978, I went on a month long trip around Europe with my mom. I enjoyed myself so much that when we got back home, I immediately started saving to return. Ten years after, on January 1, 1988, I prayed and said something like, “Lord, I already saved enough to go back to Europe. Can I go this year?” And “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow me”. Instead I heard, “Go to Jerusalem”.

I was very disappointed. Looking back, I cannot imagine not wanting to go visit the Holy Land! But back then, I was 32 years old and visiting Jerusalem meant a lot of praying and listening to sermons! So I said to God, “Ok God, You have to confirm that!” 

The next day during my prayer time I opened my Bible and out jumped the words, “Go to Jerusalem. That is where you will see my face.” So I set my face like flint towards Jerusalem, meaning it was painful and disappointing for me but I was resolved to obey what God wanted me to do. Just as an interesting side note, I never found that particular verse again in my Bible!!! 

That whole year, I tried to join tours to the Holy Land. I even gave downpayment for me and my mom, but the money was returned. Towards the end of the year, I asked God in frustration what He wanted, not knowing that I was already on the way to my Jerusalem. 

I was asked by Ate Belen Perreras if I wanted to join Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (The Joy of the Lord), a Covenant community of Jesus’ disciples on mission. My answer to her was that she should discern for me because I was not sure I could hear the Lord anymore! I joined the introductory community weekend anyway. 

After the weekend, when the coordinator Kuya Raul Sarceda welcomed us to Ligaya, he explained, “In our district we have a yearly theme. This year our theme is "Holiness: Following Jesus to Jerusalem. To be led where we would rather not go. (John 21:18)"

I thought the theme was very strange! Who makes a theme like that? But I had a feeling that Ligaya was my Jerusalem. When we were singing our hearts out to God, the head knowledge that Ligaya was my Jerusalem travelled down to my heart. It was like something concrete going down from my head to my heart and I could follow its path. When it reached my heart, God spoke and said, "Yes, this is your Jerusalem."

And because I obeyed God and did not go where I wanted to go, I have seen His face in my brothers and sisters in Ligaya! 

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Price He Paid

“You are my friends...” John 15:14

Jesus further says, “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from My Father.” (John 15:15) Jesus is indeed a good friend, not only because He gave His life for us, but because He told us so many secrets! When someone tells us something or gives us something of great worth, we know that person thinks highly of us. The question is are we worth the sacrifice? 

I have heard many heartbreaking stories of parents who sacrificed everything for their children. They worked abroad taking care of other families and sent money home so their children could get an education and a better life. The sad part is if the children do not appreciate the sacrifice and just spend the money with no thought of what it really cost- the years of loneliness, hard work, and even perhaps the loss of dignity and self-esteem. 

We seldom think of the price Jesus paid so that we can one day join Him in heaven. The blood, sweat and tears of our Savior is very real. He even sweated blood just thinking of it. Sometimes we see a sanitized version of Jesus on the crucifix, but in reality our God was stripped naked, with His insides all but exposed. Why would the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings allow that? It is incomprehensible, inconceivable, incredible. 

We can never thank You enough, Jesus, for Your sacrifice for us. May we respond by loving You, serving You and the people who are precious to You. Help us to live the life You died to give us. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Abide with Me

“Remain in my love.” John 15:9

In my other Bible, this verse reads, “Abide in my love.” The Greek word “meno” which translates to abide means to stay or continue on. In John 1:38-39, two disciples who were curious about Jesus asked Him where He was staying. Jesus’ answer was that they should “meno” with Him. 

I can imagine Jesus saying the same to us. Stay with Me, learn from Me, walk with Me, remain in My light, don’t stray away. “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you, and your joy might be complete.” (John 15:11) When someone we love passes away, we want to be by his side to listen to his words. For months, I had been recording my father’s stories. Almost anything he said was important to me, because I knew he could leave us at any time. A few days before he died, I even transcribed what he said, even when it did not make sense. 

How much more important, life-changing, crucial it is, for us to take Jesus’ words seriously! I believe it is a matter of life and death for us to understand and obey what Jesus said. It is not reasonable to say, “I will take my faith more seriously when I am old. I still want to enjoy my life, have fun, do things my way.” It is like we are frittering the best years of our life away if we do not start making Jesus our best friend now. He has so much to offer us! There is so much more of the “best” life we can experience if we connect, depend, and continue on in His love!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

WOYWW: The True Vine

This is what is on my table. I will cut these up and use these for ATCs, postcards, my art journal, and who knows what else?!!! 

“I am the vine, you are the branches.” John 15:5

I am not much of a gardener but even I know if you cut off a branch from the vine, it will eventually wither and die. But you can also use grafting as a way to propagate new vines, just as a lot of us prefer to have our own independent way of thinking about life. When I was younger I used to read a lot of Carlos Castañeda, and books about Theosophy. I preferred to believe in reincarnation, and thought Theosophy was more comprehensible than what Jesus taught. Eventually, after several Life in the Spirit Seminars, I decided to throw away all my esoteric books and follow Jesus. I have never looked back, and the more I read the Bible, the more I realize that Jesus is the true vine, and every other belief system is fake news. It is a graft that grew its own roots. 

No other man can claim his birth, life and death was prophesied thousands of years before. He was not one of the enlightened ones Theosophists claim He is, or just a prophet as some religions declare. If we insist on believing what we want to believe we lose out on so much! Jesus is God just as He claimed, He is the True Vine, and if we connect ourselves to Him, His life will flow through us. Jesus claimed He existed before Abraham (John 8:58) and that He and His Father are one (John 10:30). He also made Himself equal with God (John 5:17-18). 

We do not lose anything by uniting ourselves with the True Vine, instead we gain so much and can claim all His promises. Every day as we place our hope and trust in Him, we can experience more and more of the fullness and richness of life that only He can give. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ion Cell Cleanse

“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Yesterday, my sisters, my niece and her husband experienced an Ion Cell Cleanse. The center was newly opened and the owner treated us to a 30 minute footbath each. According to Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, whose achievements are a mile long, this can help flush away the toxins accumulated from bad eating habits, lack of exercise and stress. My family certainly needed to detoxify after the hard journey we had together when my dad was sick and eventually left us. 

After 30 minutes, the clean water in the foot bath looked worse than sewage water, and became a mix of dark brown, orange, green, and black sludge!!! Which only meant we had so much poison in our liver, gall bladder, joints, etc.! 

In Acts 14:21, Paul told the disciples in Antioch, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” It is so true that each of us has our own bag of troubles that we need to carry. We can help each other, encourage and support each other, but ultimately, we each have our own cross to bear. Jesus reassures us in John 14:27 that He leaves us peace. It is not the peace we can find in worldly things, or in the absence of war, or stress, or a quarrelsome person. Jesus’ peace can be found even in the midst of suffering, and war, and deprivation. It is the peace of Easter, the peace of victory. 

We can only have this peace if Jesus, the resurrected Lord, is real for us, is our friend day in and day out, through thick and thin, and in between. He is our Ion Cell Cleanse!

Monday, May 20, 2019

With Obedience

“Whoever has My commandments and observes them is the one who loves Me.” John 14:21

For me there is no doubt that God loves each one of us. Saint Augustine says the Lord loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love. His rain and His blessings pour upon each one, even if we curse Him, are ungrateful, or ignore Him. And then I think about me and my response to Him. Do I really love God? 

Jesus said that “Those who obey My commandments are the ones who love me.” One of my favorite sayings is, “With obedience comes blessing.” Peter caught much fish when he obeyed Christ’s suggestion to let down his nets on the other side of the boat. Even if Peter had been out the whole night and caught nothing, he obeyed and went home with a huge haul of fish. What if Peter said instead, “I’m so tired from fishing the whole night! We have gone through these waters already. I just want to go home!” Peter would have missed the miracle of the harvest! 

What “harvest” have we missed because we were too tired, too apathetic, too careful of our comfort to obey something God wanted us to do? Usually the Lord’s suggestions start as something small. Pray. Listen to me. Read My Word. Then if we do these faithfully every day, He will surprise us with a doozy. “Go to Quezon City Jail,” He told me one day in 2009. I cried and cried because I did not want to go inside a place crowded with male prisoners. My mother saw me crying and asked what was wrong. She said she would go with me if no one else would accompany me. 10 years later and my sister and brother-in-law continue to preach in that miserable place once a week. What a huge harvest of souls! 

Lord, help me to hear Your still, small voice. Stir in my heart an ardent desire to serve You and obey You. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Love One Another

" one another..." John 13:34

How do we make the call to love one another REAL in our lives? Before our father died, we were able to tell him we loved him, that he was never alone, and we would do everything we could to take care of him. Daddy also told us he loved us many times. In the same way, before Jesus was crucified, he took the time to be with His disciples. What he did and said was very important. He washed each of their feet and said, "Do you understand what I have done for you? Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you...Now that you know these things, YOU WILL BE BLESSED if you do them."

And then, after a little while he said, "A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love."

Why a new commandment, when the Jews were already instructed to "love thy neighbor as thyself?" (Leviticus 19:18) Perhaps because we are to love as Jesus loves, not as we love ourselves. Many of us do not know how to love ourselves. We can be over critical. We want to change the way we look, the way we speak, the way we act, the way we perform our work. We get frustrated with ourselves. We usually think that what we are, what we are capable of, is never enough. We do not accept ourselves unconditionally. That's why Jesus says, "Look at me. Look at the way I love you. Look at my commitment to you. It does not depend on how you look, your achievements, your worthiness. I accept you for who you are. Even if you fail again and again. Even if you see yourselves as thin or fat, or white or dark, or timid, or dumb. I love you. I died for you. I want to help you to grow, to mature, to use all your gifts, not only for my glory, but because that is how I can bless you."

The first step to loving others, is to know God's love for us. He loves us unconditionally, eternally! 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Ways of the Lord

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds!” Psalm 98:1

It is good to notice and be sensitive to God’s workings in our lives. Many times we do not realize and are not grateful for the many ways He providentially orchestrates the many details that we may dismiss as serendipity. 

My siblings and I were brought up in the Catholic Church, but our father is Methodist and the son of the first Filipino Methodist Bishop in the Philippines. When he passed away a few days ago, we were in a quandary what to do. When a Catholic dies, we usually have a mass every day and we say a novena afterwards. We did not know what was needed when a Methodist passed away and the only Pastor we knew was not available for the last day of the wake. 

A good friend of ours overheard our discussions and said he would try to contact someone, but it turned out his friend was out of the country. We planned to just have my brother-in-law say the prayers downloaded from the internet. Then yesterday morning we received the wonderful news from our friend that the Methodist Bishop landed at midnight and would make time to bless our father that evening! The service was a fitting tribute to my dad, and showed me that if we put our trust in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. I knew that God wanted to give my dad a beautiful send off. 

This morning, we were also blessed by a Pastor from the Covenant Revival Church, a eulogy from my Uncle, and a few words from a priest who was a good friend of the family. At the cemetery, my brother in law led the prayers, and our good friends sang my dad’s favorite hymn, “Abide with Me”.

Truly, the ways of the Lord are marvelous to behold. Those who trust Him will never be disappointed. Proverbs 16:1 says, “We may make our plans, but God has the last word.” He wants the best for His faithful ones! 

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Way

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6

I like mining the Bible for the gold of God’s promises. One of the most reassuring are the verses in John chapter 6. “Let not your heart be troubled...In My Father’s house are many dwelling places...I go to prepare a place for you.” Who better to prepare a place for us in heaven than THE way, THE truth and THE life? Jesus assures us that as long as we place our faith, our hope, and our trust in Him, we have a place reserved just for us! 

“Where I am you may also be.” We should always remember the truth that we are all pilgrims on a journey. Earth is merely a way station, a stop over, a terminal. We should not have too much baggage! Jesus did everything here on earth so that one day we can be with Him. Where He is, is the best place to be! But we can always carve out a space and time in the here and now to be with Jesus. Many things can distract us, but there is one certainty we can depend on. We are loved, we are precious, and neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). 

Lord, thank You for showing us the way. Thank You that we have a special place with You!

Thursday, May 16, 2019


“The favors of the Lord I will sing forever.” Psalm 89:2

The last word we heard our father struggle to say before he passed on was, “Alleluia!” He knew from where his help came. 

“I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help, my help cometh from the Lord, the Lord which made Heaven and Earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Death is a very mysterious door. Some of my friends passed through quickly, and some have laboured long before they were able to see what lay on the other side. My father had a difficult time these past weeks, and my family and I asked for mercy and grace for him, and for ourselves as well. 

When we see death face to face, we realize how ephemeral life is. Where once there was a living, breathing human being, suddenly all breathing stops and there is a suspension of unbelief for a while. Really, truly gone? Never to hear his voice again, his stories, his laughter? Never to see his eager, bright, shining face full of the mischief of youth, still? 

My father lived life to the full. Even when bedridden from his bad back, he was never idle. He was always so busy, researching things on the internet, fiddling around with a new product to sell, solving a problem in his mind, planning his next adventure on the high seas. I was so sad when my usually ebullient 92-year old father gave up and said he could not accomplish his bucket list of going out fishing and crabbing on the boat he made in his backyard. He then proceeded to show his niece and nephews his map and where they should go fishing. 

I thank God for my father. He taught me that life is an adventure. That it can be amazing if we use all the gifts God has lavished upon us, every last drop, never giving up unless we really had to, even when we are old. I think it is a beautiful offering if we could say to God, thank You for all Your gifts and favor. I did not waste any of it! I squeezed it all out and made the most of all you have given me. Alleluia! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Just One

Just finished a postcard for a friend of mine. Every year she asks her friends to send her postcards for her birthday! She gets cards from all around the world! 

“...they laid hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:3

In the Book of Acts, Saint Luke writes of the many missionary journeys undertaken by Paul, the activities of Peter, and the life of the Church. God empowered His people to spread the good news, and from the little group of Christians who were sent, the gospel has reached almost every corner of the globe. 

In the 13th chapter of the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit instructed the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch to dedicate Paul and Barnabas for His special work. After fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on the two and sent them on their way. They went to Seleucia and Cyprus and preached the word of God in Jewish synagogues. 

We too are sent on a special mission for the Lord. After every mass, the priest tells us to “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” This is not just a platitude. An apostle is one sent on a mission. As followers of Christ we are also sent on a mission with a good message to spread. We need to reach people for Christ or we fail as His people. Before He left for His throne in heaven, He instructed, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.” (Mark 16:15) This is His commission to us as His ambassadors. 

As Mother Teresa said, “If You can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” Feed him bread. Feed him God’s Word. We can change the Philippines one person at a time. We can change the world one person at a time. It starts with just one. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Choice

“They drew lots...the choice fell to Matthias...” Acts 1:26

When we go back to when the Twelve Apostles were chosen, Luke tells is in chapter 6, verses 12-16, that Jesus prayed all night all alone in a mountain. Then He called all His followers and chose twelve of them to be His Apostles: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, Judas don of James, and Judas Iscariot. Judas! The one who betrayed Him! So even after praying a long time, Jesus chose this man who sold Him for a few paltry pieces of silver! 

In Acts 1, Peter said, basing his decision on the Book of Psalms 109:8, that they would replace Judas with another. They prayed, “You Know every heart, Lord. Show us which of these men You have chosen.” They drew lots and Matthew was chosen. We know very little about Matthew, only that he was with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry. 

In the choice of Judas, we may have many questions. Didn’t Jesus know Judas would betray Him? Was this poor man chosen precisely because he would betray Jesus and put into place the plan for our salvation? I believe that Judas was given a choice, just as we all are. To follow Christ or to choose the world. Judas chose to follow his baser instinct. 

And Matthias was chosen to take his place. In this way the infant church grew under Peter. Throughout history we know that Jesus’ church has been beset by many problems, numerous scandals. We can be sure that just as Judas and his mistake was used by God for the good of the Church and His people, He will also make a way to cause all things, good and bad, even in the political and social arena of our time, to come together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). 

And what is our role? "We draw from this a final lesson: while there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to each of us to counterbalance the evil done by them with our clear witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior." (Pope Benedict, Oct. 2006)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Abundant Life

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Father, I claim Your promise of abundant life, not only for me, but for the people called by Your name. Today we elect Senators, Mayors, Vice-Mayors and representatives of Your people. Father, I know that this abundant life you offer to us is not only for when we leave this pilgrim journey, but we can have it in the here and now. We can experience Your love, light, and truth today. 

But there is a thief who steals, slaughters and destroys all the beautiful things and ways You want us to have. We have mismanaged Your blessings and favors as we listen to the cacophony of voices in this world. Fake teachers preach counterfeit paths leading us farther away from You. 

May we O Lord, find our way back to You, to listen to You, our good Shepherd, who loves us best, and who is the genuine way, truth and life. 

Today, help us to vote wisely and well, knowing that each vote impacts the life of every citizen, but especially the poor and disadvantaged. We want every Filipino to have that abundant life that You generously offer. We have a country rich with so many gifts and natural resources bestowed by You. Help us, especially our leaders to be generous and work towards the best life for our nation. Help us to elect leaders with integrity and courage, and who have a true heart to serve. In Jesus mighty name, amen. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Good Shepherd

“My sheep hear my voice...” John 10:27

Sometimes it is difficult to hear the voice of God. The world clamors for our attention every day. One of the goals I placed in my life map before the start of this year was “Word before the world”. That meant that before I do my chores, before I open my phone, before I answer the hundred and one things calling me, I go before God, thank Him, read and ponder His word, and just be with Him. I am not always successful. 

But God is always waiting. The Lord said that He is the good shepherd, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow Me.” On the 4th Sunday of Easter, the Catholic Church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we are His sheep. Although a lamb is lovable and cuddly, it is not exactly a compliment to be compared to sheep! Sheep are quite dumb, short sighted, stubborn, and defenseless. They gather in groups and really need someone to guide them because they can't take care of themselves. They move all together in a herd. In 2006, 400 sheep fell into a 15 meter deep ravine and died because of this instinct.

When I read this passage, I always remember my husband Luigi’s story of his encounter with sheep. He asked a shepherd if he could feed his sheep. The shepherd said, "That's my problem. Even my son can't feed them. They only recognize my voice!" True enough, when Luigi tried, the sheep did not come. He would approach them and the sheep would move away. Then when the shepherd called, they came right away!

Sheep who know a good master's voice and follow him, will be taken care of. But sheep who follow the wrong voice can end up in a ravine!!!!

Lord, may I know Your voice and follow You. I hold on to Your promise that no one can take me out of Your hand.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Good God?

“To you will I offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Psalm 116:17

I forget when I started reading Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are”. But I can find out by pulling out my old journals and looking for no.1 of my praise and thanksgiving list. I am now in no. 7743. Every day, I start with counting my blessings. There is always plenty to thank God for even in days when there is bad news or some horrible disaster. The fact that we can breathe without an oxygen tank beside us, that we can walk, that we can remember things, that we are able to love, forgive, get excited. A friend on Facebook started her list with thankfulness for coffee. My 7743 list doesn’t even contain the word coffee. Yet. Or chocolates! Salmon sushi! 

I like the way Ann Voskamp writes, and speaks. “How,” she wondered, “do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long, and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?” When she started chronicling life’s gifts, it was transformative. 

She starts her story telling when she is four years old and already enveloped in grief. Her little sister Aimee was crushed by a delivery truck with a heavy load when she wandered close after a cat. The driver sobbed that he had not seen her and her mom had witnessed it all with a blood curdling scream. How do you get through something like that? 

“Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights... where is God really? How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die...Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I live fully when life is full of hurt?” Many ask these questions. Years can pass and sometimes there are no answers.

For Ann the answer came in “eucharisteo”, thanksgiving which has as its root word, “charis” meaning grace, “chara” meaning joy. “Deep joy can only be found at the table of euCHARisteo, the table of thanksgiving. As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.” 

Lord, may I remember everyday to give you a sacrifice of thanksgiving, especially during dark days. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

You Did It to Me!

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Acts 9:4

What must Saul have been feeling when Jesus burst into his reality? Saul was so sure he was doing God’s will. He watched as Stephen was stoned to death. He was zealous in rounding up the new followers of Christ, bringing them to Jerusalem in chains and throwing them in jail. 

But God did not allow him to continue. On the road to Damascus, a brilliant light flashed from the sky and he fell to the ground. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 

“Who are you, Sir?” Saul asked. 

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting!” Saul was not there during Christ’s crucifixion. He was terrorizing and threatening ordinary people following the new way of the Lord. Jesus already taught in Matthew 25:40 that ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ We see that Jesus takes this very seriously and we should too. 

Are we persecuting anyone? Probably not. But sometimes we hurt people without even knowing it. We do not think of the words we say and how we say it. I admit I am not very conscious of how I put things. I can be judgmental and unkind. I can jump to conclusions and say negative things. Being sensitive to how others are feeling is a strength we should develop. We should practice treating others as if they were Jesus. The world will be a better place. 

During the times we cannot think of others as Jesus because Jesus would not be cruel, unkind, and arrogant, then we can practice being Jesus to them. Easier said than done but I believe our time on earth is one long practice for when we get to heaven. We fail many times, but Jesus our teacher is patient with us. He gives us as many chances as we need!