Monday, September 30, 2019


“Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it be impossible in my eyes also, says the Lord?” Zechariah 8:6

There are many impossible promises and prophecies the Lord gave to His people. He promised a Messiah born of a Virgin in Bethlehem, and He promised the Jews a land that will belong to them. Jesus did not have control over where He would be born, and how he would die, and this was all prophesied. It was in God’s hands. 

Our lives are in God’s hands as well. We may have challenges that are seemingly impossible to get through. Cancer, broken relationships, insurmountable debt, even a country run by corrupt leaders. Even if all this can seem hopeless and impossible in our eyes, it is not impossible for God. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Lazarus at the Door

“Lying at the rich man’s gate was a poor man named Lazarus covered with sores.” Luke 16:20

Is there a Lazarus at our gate? 

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 may get reminded if we go to mass or a prayer meeting, if we’re paying attention, and not allowing our mind to wander around. 

Here we have Jesus telling a story to the Pharisees. There is a very rich man who is UNNAMED, he says. 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 murdered, 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 bother to 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.

Saturday, September 28, 2019


“He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together.” Jeremiah 31:10

Who would have thought that after more than 2000 years of exile, the Jews would be able to return to the land promised to them by God? After the Assyrian exile in 733 BCE, the Babylonian captivity in 597-586 BCE, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, Jews were scattered to all corners of the world. 

When the Jews were able to return to Israel in 1948, it was a miracle. At no time in history had an ancient people who had been displaced, persecuted and even massacred, been able to reestablish their nation in their original homeland. But it is no surprise because God promises this in Deuteronomy 30:1-5, Amos 9:15, Isaiah 11:11 and other prophecies in the Bible. 

We too can depend on God’s promises. We read in Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your Godis God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” And in 2 Timothy 2:13, St. Paul writes, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He CANNOT deny Himself.” 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Who is Jesus ?

“Who do you say that I am?” Luke 9:20

In the 9th chapter of Luke, we read of Jesus asking the disciples who the crowds thought He was. Then He asked who they thought He was. Peter answered unequivocally that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. That is certainly not surprising considering that Peter was a witness to the miracles of Jesus. Jesus fed 5000 people with a meager five loaves and two fishes. Jesus healed many, including the woman with a hemorrhage, Jairus’ child, and the demoniac. He also calmed the strong wind and raging waves of a storm in the middle of the sea.  

Today, although there are many miracles, people scoff and are very skeptical. But in Africa, many are coming to know and meet Christ because of Heidi Baker, a Christian missionary since the 1980s, who proclaims God's Word to the poorest of the poor in dusty villages in Africa. 100 % of the deaf in Chiure have been healed, food has multiplied, sight has been restored, and yes, there have been people who were dead and came alive again. It is no wonder that God's Word has spread in that remote forgotten region of the world. Forgotten by men but not by God. He sent Heidi and her husband Rolland there so the people of Mozambique could meet and see Him.

The couple began with nothing when they started their ministry to the poor, homeless children in Mozambique. Now they are able to provide water, feeding programs, livelihood, schools. They were able to plant more than 7000 “bush” churches, 5 bible schools and 4 children’s feeding centers in Mozambique since 1990. 

She introduces Jesus to many because Heidi Baker met Jesus. She heard about Him and was convicted through a Navajo preacher's sharing while on an Indian reservation. Do we really know Jesus? If He asks us today, “Who do you say that I am?”, what will our answer be? If we really know Him, we will be eager to introduce Him to others!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A House in Ruins

“Consider your ways!” Haggai 1:5

In 520 B.C., the work on the second Jewish temple was lagging, and God urged the people through the prophet Haggai, to continue building. “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:3)

“You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; and whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it,” Haggai prophesied. Are we not sometimes puzzled about some very rich politicians who do not get satisfied with their hundreds of millions of pesos? They want more and more and more! It truly does seem as if they have a bag of holes. 

As the wise Saint Augustine wrote in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee.” We were made to seek God, but there are many counterfeits and many wrong roads. Should we not listen to our Maker? God wants us to know Him, and His plans for us, and how we should live. That is why we have the Bible, our manual. If there’s something wrong with our phone, our car, our washing machine, don’t we look for the solution in our manual or search for it online, or bring it to the manufacturer? We too have our Maker to consult. 

God says in Haggai 1:7: “Consider how things are going for you! Now go and rebuild my house. My house lies in ruins.” Are we like the people of Jerusalem in Haggai’s time? Are we not tending the house of the Lord, the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in our own hearts? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Pilgrim Journey

“Take nothing for the journey...” Luke 9:3

“We are pilgrims on a journey, not tourists,” Father Suarez admonished us when we went on a Pilgrimage to Lourdes, Assisi, and ended up in Rome for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. What is the difference? A pilgrim is a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons. A tourist, on the other hand, visits places for pleasure. While we live on this earth, what is our perspective?

Do we go about our daily life with heaven as our goal, believing that each day God is with us, tending our growth as a human being? Knowing that there are lessons we need to learn, virtues and disciplines we need to practice and truth we need to live by? 

Or perhaps we prefer to join the crowd that follows the trail of happiness, enjoyment and success? Do the roads never meet? I believe loving, and following Jesus is the path to true happiness, enjoyment and success! “Delight yourself in the Lord,” we read in Psalm 37:4, “and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  God is our Creator and He knows us inside and out. He is really the only one who can teach us what to do to have true joy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Third Temple

“They are to rebuild it on its former site.” Ezra 6:7

The history of the Jewish Temple is full of drama. The whole city of Jerusalem along with the first Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II and the people were exiled to Babylon in 587 or 586 BC. Then King Cyrus of Persia allowed the captive Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. This is the story in the Book of Ezra, about how the work on the Temple began and was finished. Herod the Great remodelled and expanded the Temple area. This is the same Temple where Jesus preached at twelve years old, and later drove out the money lenders and vendors, overturning their tables in anger. 

Jesus also prophesied in Matthew 24:1-2, “You see all of these things, do you not? Truly I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” In A.D.70, the Romans sacked the city of Jerusalem, but traditionally, the Jews believe that the Wailing Wall that still stands near the Temple Mount was part of Herod’s Temple. They pray there, and consider it the holiest site in the Jewish faith. 

After listening to many videos of archaeologists and Biblical scholars who cite not only the Bible but ancient historians, I know there is a possibility that the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock is, may not be where Solomon’s and Herod’s Temple were originally built. Instead it may be the location of the Antonia Fortress for the Roman forces protecting Jerusalem. The real location of the Jewish Temple may be near the Gihon Spring, in the City of David. The implications of this is immense. Hopefully, more archaeological discoveries will come to light and prove this so the Third Temple can be built by the Jews. 

For us Christians, we do not need to wait for the third Temple because St. Paul revealed, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Today, September 23, is the Feast Day of one of my favorite saints, Padre Pio. My mom loved telling stories about Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. She would always ask him to intercede. One time my father was in the hospital, in great pain because of gallstones. She laid her hands on him, asking for Padre Pio’s intercession. My father is Methodist and didn’t believe in asking for saints to pray for us, but he was instantly relieved of his pain. So he continued to ask my mom to lay her hands on him. 

Another reason why Padre Pio is a favorite of mine is because he is no typical saint. 

He is not a saint who exhibited patience, love, joy, and peaceful endurance. Padre Pio had an awful temper. In spite of that, he was beatified in 1999 and canonized in 2002. From the age of 5, he knew he wanted to dedicate his life to serving God. At the young age of 15, he entered the noviciate of the Capuchin friars at Morcone. 

Padre Pio said, “The person who meditates and turns his mind to God, who is the mirror of his soul, seeks to know his faults, tries to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order." Here we see this holy man’s advice to us who easily lose patience. We need to recognize our faults, try to correct them and moderate our impulses. Padre Pio also suggested weekly confession. Just as a regular cleaning of our homes is necessary, so too we should see what unnecessary baggage we carry in our souls. I am sure Padre Pio also experienced disappointment in himself, and that’s why he always said to his visitors, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” 

Lord, thank You for the example of Your saints. They were not perfect but they lived their lives for You. May we too never give up striving to live holy lives, going back to You and drinking from the living water of  Your Spirit. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Shrewder and Wiser

“His master praised the dishonest manager for acting shrewdly and prudently; for the sons of men are shrewder and more prudent and wiser in relation to their own generation than are the sons of light." Luke 16:8

Whaaaat?!!!  This is a complicated, confusing story! Why is Jesus telling a parable about a dishonest manager being commended by his master, his boss, for being shrewd???

Last year in our business there was a rash of dishonest employees. They each found ingenuous ways of stealing money. And in a way I can relate to the boss in the story 

and can say, "Wow! These employees really used their talents, their brains, and their creativity to find a way to get what they wanted!"  If only they used their God-given abilities and gifts for something good! 

I think this is partly what Jesus is saying in this parable. We should use our time, talent and treasure to do good, to gain friends, to build the Kingdom of Heaven, and to have treasure there! We should be shrewder, wiser, and more prudent than worldly men who rule this world with impunity. And we have God at our side to do it! 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Follow Me

“Follow me.” Matthew 9:9

Some days I think oh, I’m doing well, I’m not such a big sinner. Other days, I see my heart and mind the way God sees it, and I know He is disappointed in the filth and selfishness. Just recently I got my x-ray results, and it shows my lungs are normal but my aorta is tortuous and calcified. It’s just like what Jeremiah 17:9 says, “ More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” 

When Jesus saw Matthew, the tax collector, he saw a sinner as well. Matthew’s heart was tortuous with greed, and who knows what else. Other Jews saw him as a traitor who collaborated with a foreign power the same way some of our leaders are giving away our seas, our lands, the livelihood of our people and the future of our children. It seemed to the Jews there was no hope for this tax collector. But Jesus saw him differently. He said, “Follow me,” and Matthew followed and the rest is history. 

Even if my heart is tortuous, Jesus knows there is hope. He sees my future and says, “Follow me anyway.” 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Can’t Take It With You!

“For we brought nothing into this world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.” 1 Timothy 6:7

It is amazing how some of us live as if we will stay on this side of the world forever. Some amass wealth, property here and abroad, jewelry, old master paintings, and who knows what else. I come from a line of hoarders. My mom filled our attic rooms with craft materials she never was able use up in her lifetime. My aunt has a house overflowing with clothes, bags, shoes and figurines. I myself have all sorts of junk I can’t bear to throw away. I like reusing old styrofoam, clothes, ribbons, magazine pages, toilet paper rolls. 

A couple of weeks ago I helped my sister and brother in law sort through the things in the house of my brother-in-law’s parents. His father had passed away some years ago, and his mom already stayed with him. There were piles and piles of clothing, bedsheets, curtains, lots of kitchen ware, furniture and decor from all around the world. It was all worth a huge amount of money and now it was being sold in a garage sale for a pittance. Looking at it, what kept running through my mind was: You can only keep what you give away. 

C.S. Lewis wrote, “The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God. What we try to keep for ourselves is just what we are sure to lose.” If only we learn this early enough to do something about it! 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Little is Forgiven

“Little is forgiven the one whose love is small." Luke 7:47

What a dramatic turn of events in this chapter of Luke! Simon, a Pharisee, invites Jesus to dinner at his home. Jesus accepts, and as He reclines at the table, his legs and feet stretched out away from the table, a woman of some reputation comes uninvited. She is weeping, and she uses her hair to wipe away the dirt and grime of Jesus' feet. She opens her precious perfumed oil in its alabaster vase, and uses it on Jesus' feet. I can imagine Simon, with a little sneer on his mouth. He is a little amused by this, too entertained to put a stop to this intrusion in his home. He should have had her thrown out for her impertinence, but he likes seeing this so-called prophet and teacher being pampered by a "sinner"! During the first century, if a woman let down her hair, she could be divorced by her husband, and here, this woman, not only uncovered her hair, but was using her tresses to wipe Jesus' feet! If this Jesus was really wise, Simon thought, he should know what sort of woman she was and would not have allowed her to touch him!!!!

But of course, Jesus knew everything Simon was thinking, all the nuances, and He also knew what the woman was thinking and feeling and going through. Just as He knows our heart and mind as well! Oh the shame! Jesus sees all the condemnation and judgement in our mind. The lack of love in our heart. He knows when we look at others with indifference, when there is no charity in our spirit for others who need our help. What did Jesus say? "Little is forgiven the one whose love is small." Do we want to be forgiven? Then we have to tap into the well of love that God has for us and for all sinners like us. We need to see ourselves and others the way God sees us. Then there will be no room for condemnation, only compassion.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Throwing Hoops

“Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Luke 7:35

Sometimes even if I read a passage again and again, I cannot understand it. Like this one. There is worldly wisdom, understanding and shrewdness we gain from experience. Then there is the wisdom that God bestows on those who seek to obey and know Him. I was listening to Jason Chin, who has an online school where he teaches how to pray for the sick and listen for God’s word of knowledge. Again, it’s all a matter of practice. He said that if a kid was put in a room with hundreds of basketballs, he would very likely throw the balls into the hoop without prodding. But if he was told that he had to throw the ball into the hoop only when he was 100% certain it would get in, that kid would not even attempt to do it. 

Why do we not try to hear God’s voice? Why do we not lay hands on the sick? The more we do it, the more doors open up, because God wants us to claim His promises. There are hundreds of basketballs ready for us to shoot every day, but we don’t even try because we want to be 100% certain of the outcome. Lord, may I be braver in following You and claiming Your promises so I can spread Your love everywhere I go. May we, your children, vindicate, give evidence that You truly give wisdom and insight to Your people. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Staying in the Ark

“...for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the Church of God?” 1 Timothy 3:5

St. Paul wrote many instructions for his associate Timothy, who was left in Ephesus to help with the problems of the Ephesian church. There were a lot of challenges Timothy had to deal with, for the Ephesian church struggled with Christian teachings and lifestyle. I wonder what Saint Paul would say about the behemoth Catholic Church today with its many serious, overwhelming problems? 

Just as he wrote Timothy, I suppose he would also encourage us not to be weary and discouraged but to see God’s bigger picture. Just like Timothy, we should know the truth and defend it against the false teachings in our time. The enemy is seriously attacking the Church today from outside and from within, from left and right, up and down. 

When Napoleon in 1809 kidnapped the Pope, he boasted, “We will destroy you!” The Pope retorted, “Ha! If we haven’t been able to destroy ourselves for thousands of years, you won’t be able to do it either!” That is why I stay within the Ark that is the Church, even if it needs a lot of repairs and is leaking in all sorts of places. Jesus promised to take care of it, that the gates of Hades will never prevail against it! (Mt. 16:18) 

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Lord is the Strength of His People

“The Lord is the strength of His people.” Psalm 28:8

I have read much about the corrupt Popes with mistresses and children. Then there were Popes who spent more time power-politicking than attending to the affairs of the Church. There was a Pope who complained that he did not hear enough screaming when Cardinals who had conspired against him were tortured. The list is long and wearisome. 

That is why God spoke to St. Francis in the dilapidated chapel of San Damiano, “Repair my Church, which has fallen into disrepair.” God was giving Francis a mission to return the Church to the radical simplicity of the gospel, to a life of poverty and prayer. 

In the earlier days of persecution, becoming a Pope was a quick death sentence. Pope Cornelius, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, was totally dedicated to Christ. He was exiled and martyred in 253. Pope Clement I or Saint Clement of Rome, while imprisoned, led a ministry among fellow prisoners. He was executed by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. So many Popes died as martyrs from St. Peter in c.67 to Pope John I who was imprisoned and starved to death in 526. 

The Church has Saints and sinners just as we can find in the genealogy of Jesus, and the chosen disciples of Jesus. Today, there are many forces out to destroy it. There are attacks from the inside and outside. But one thing is for certain, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt.16:18) 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sure Thing!

“Let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found." Luke 15:23-24 

In Jesus' longest parable, the prodigal son asked his father for his inheritance. This was tantamount to telling his father, “I prefer that you die so I can have the money." The father sadly divided his estate and gave the son what he asked for. After a life of depravity and wantonness, all the money gone, the son goes back to the father, knowing his father's servants lived a better life than he did. The father was merciful and compassionate, and easily forgave him. The father had been longing for his son’s return and celebrated when he did. 

Isn’t it a good thing that God does not answer all our prayers with yes? Can you imagine how many people pray that they would win the lotto? The mother of Dionie Reyes kept praying that he would win the lotto and finally in April 2008, he did. He won 14 million pesos and after living the life of a millionaire for 3 months, he is now destitute and owes big sums of money. “I wish it never happened," William Post said. “It was totally a nightmare!" He won $16.2 million but after a year, he owed $1 million. 

Like the prodigal son, a lot of people are under the illusion that having money would solve all their problems, and make them happy. Jim Carrey said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.” 

Instead of money, why don't we bet on a sure thing? The love of a merciful and compassionate Father! ❤️

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Be Grateful

 "Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered." Numbers 21:9

This story in the Old Testament which happened while the Israelites journeyed to the Promised Land, shows how God is very creative with His solutions to problems. The Israelites were grumbling, murmuring, complaining that they had NOTHING to eat or drink. In truth they had fresh manna to eat every day from the hand of God, and even lots of quail in the evening. They also had water. But like Adam and Eve in the garden, they listened to our ancient enemy. The enemy likes to deceive and loves it when we are ungrateful.

Sometimes God teaches us by allowing hard things to come into our lives. This time He sent serpents, poisonous snakes. Some of the people were bitten and died, and they pleaded with Moses for help. God then instructed Moses to make a replica of the snake and mount it on a pole. "Those who are bitten will live if they simply looked at it."

We too are frequently bitten by sin which leads to death. But if we look to Jesus who became sin as He took all our sins with Him on the cross, we will live. Let us be grateful for this beautiful solution God has come up with for His people!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Path to Life

“You will show me the path to life...” Psalm 16:11

I was thinking it would be foolish of me to follow someone along a dark path if that person hadn’t been there before. It would be even more foolhardy if that person did not have a lamp to light the way. What if there was a cliff on the side, or snakes or a boulder about to fall. In many ways, we live in a dark, uncertain world. There are many pitfalls and the future is certainly unknown. If there is a guide who offers to show us the way, and who knows the future, we should accept his help!

Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life. What’s more, He knows the way to heaven because He is the only one who has come down from heaven. In John 3:11, Jesus claimed, “We speak about what we know, and we testify about what we have seen.” Why should we believe Him? More than 300 prophecies in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New Testament. No other man can claim that. It is exciting to see how events in the Old Testament foreshadow what Jesus said and did in the gospels. 

Lord Jesus, I trust You to lead me along my faith journey. Thank You for showing me the path to life, and being ever before me! 

Thursday, September 12, 2019


“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 in return be measured out to you.” Luke 6:38

Consider the opposite. Don’t give. Keep everything for yourself. Don’t help others with what you have. Money, talents, influence, time, use it all for yourself. I am picturing a miser who works hard to enrich himself, not thinking of his coworkers, the man outside his gate, a friend who is sick in the hospital. 

He will be exactly like the Dead Sea or the Salt Sea or the Devil’s Sea as it is sometimes called. The Jordan river empties into it but there is no outlet. Because it is landlocked, the water evaporates and leaves behind massive amounts of salt, making it so dense that people can float on top of it. No plants, algae or animals survive in this brackish water but at the very bottom there are microbial fungi and bacteria. This is what we become if we just receive all the blessings God gives us, and do not share. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

God’s Megaphone

How does one picture pain? I just made a mess of a picture! 

“Blessed are you who are poor...hungry...weeping...” Luke 6:20-21

Jesus can say very strange things. How can we be blessed if we are poor, hungry, mourning, when people hate us or insult us? It just does not seem comprehensible! It is also puzzling to the human mind that there is a God of love but there is so much pain and hardship in the world, isn’t it? That is one reason why people become atheists. They cannot understand how a God of love can allow all the natural disasters, the cruelty, the depravity and corruption. 

But God is not only all powerful, He is also all knowing and He sees what our limited mind cannot see. He sees beyond the darkness of this world and He is always working to bring about our good. 

There is a young girl named Ashland with congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. CIPA is rare autosomal recessive disorder of the nervous system which prevents the feeling of pain or temperature, and prevents a person from sweating. Ashland’s mother prays everyday that Ashland will feel pain so she can live normally. Every day, Ashland is in danger, because she won’t even know how to avoid it. She can go around with a rusty nail in her foot and she won’t even take it out because she won’t feel it. Boiling water can be poured on her hand and she won’t know unless she is looking. Pain tells us something is wrong. 

The world is groaning in pain. Even the poor animals are in grave danger because of the plastics invading every part of our planet. A very wise C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world...No doubt pain as God’s megaphone is a terrible instrument; it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion. But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment. It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of the rebel soul.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Rooted in Him

“Walk in Christ, rooted in Him and built upon Him...” Colossians 2:7

One of my favorite images from the Bible is from Psalm 1:3. It says a person who meditates on God’s Word day and night is like a tree planted by running streams, which yields its fruit in due season, and and whose leaves do not wither. Whatever he does, prospers. 

I asked God once during my prayer time, “Could You love me any more than You do already?” I thought God would answer that He couldn’t, for He already loved me with His infinite, unconsummable love. Surprisingly He said that I was like a tree beside a stream, that if I reached out to others in love, my branches would grow longer and farther, and I could hold more and more of His love! I suppose that is what it means to be rooted in Him, built upon Him. 

We should build our lives on the foundation that is Christ, and we can have many branches, our family life, our community and church life, our work, our service, our hobbies, our friends, our organizations, etc. All the branches of our being should be permeated with Christ’s life and grace, so we can really be His disciples on mission in the world. 

Monday, September 09, 2019

Stretch Out Your Hand

“Stretch out your hand.” Luke 6:10

Let me tell you about my adventures with healing. Like most people, I am very hesitant to present myself and pray over people who are sick. But Jesus said in John 14:12, “Whoever believes in me shall also do the works that I do. And greater things than these shall he do, for I go to the Father.” I either believe that or I don’t. 

In Mark 16:15, Jesus instructed His disciples to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature...and these signs will follow those who believe...they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” I was listening to a lady on YouTube, who believed this. For ten years, she laid hands on the sick, and no one got healed. Some even died! But today, Aliss Cresswell sees healing miracles everywhere she goes. 

So I decided to do the same, and pray over the sick. Some have gotten well, some have seen a slight improvement, some no improvement at all. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I believe His promises and I will continue to lay my hands on the sick. I believe it is like any talent or gift. We have to use it, practice, practice, practice, until one day, the small negative voice that says we can’t do it, will be silenced. 

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The Cross

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27

This is one of Jesus’ hard lessons. One that as a young girl I rejected and did not believe He said. One of the reasons I stopped reading the Bible in High School and left the cute little Gideon Bible on a shelf to become dusty. 

Today, we wear crosses on our necks, wrists and even ears. It is hung on our walls, our car mirrored , and doors. People in Jesus’ time would never think of doing that. Only criminals convicted of heinous crimes would have carried their cross and be crucified on it. Today in the Philippines there is much discussion about heinous crimes. Men who should have been in jail for their whole lifetime were released because they had connections in high places, or they paid money to people in the Bureau of Corrections. 

We cannot pay God enough money to get Him to forgive our heinous crimes against Him. We cannot do enough good deeds to cover up for our sin. Amazingly, Jesus was willing to do it for us. "He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24)

Thank You Jesus for Your unshakeable, massive commitment to us. Thank You that nothing can thwart the victory You won for us on the cross. I can live in freedom, without guilt and shame, as long as I repent of my sin, believe in Your finished work on the cross, and follow You. 

Saturday, September 07, 2019

God is Deeper

“God has now reconciled you.” Colossians 1:22

It is very difficult, sometimes impossible to forgive when we feel a deep wrong has been done against us. Many Jews were treated harshly and even murdered in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, a labor camp for women. Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie were incarcerated there after they were caught helping Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust. Betsie died in the camp but Corrie was released because of a clerical error. A week later, all the women in her age group were sent to the gas chamber. 

Was Corrie filled with bitterness and hate after those terrible years in Ravensbrück? Before Betsie died, she told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still." After the war, Corrie set up centers to help concentration camp survivors, and she travelled the world speaking about God’s love and His forgiveness. 

One time, HER forgiveness was put to the test. She had just given a talk and she saw a man walk towards her. Suddenly she was brought back to the huge room in the concentration camp. She could see his blue uniform with the leather crop dangling from his belt. She remembered the shame of walking naked past this man, her sister Betsie before her, frail, her ribs jutting against her parchment skin. She remembered how cruel he had been to them, and even more to Betsie who had been so weak. 

And here he was, holding out his hand. “I have become a Christian," he said. “I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein, will you forgive me?"

Corrie Ten Boom wrote, “I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

Friday, September 06, 2019

All Things Hold Together

“In Christ all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

When I was young I felt so bad that I broke  the ceramic handle of a salad spoon. It was part of a beautiful set, and even if all the pieces were recovered and it was glued back together, it never was the same. It was imperfect already, damaged goods. Not so with Christ. He holds the whole world together, even if all around we see a broken, imperfect world. One day we will see clearly that “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” 

Paul wrote the people of Colossae while he was in prison, but he was never a broken man. He knew Jesus and was confident that “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Are we so confident in the Lord, that no misfortune, no trial or suffering, will make us turn away from God in despair? Jesus is the source of our hope and the perfecter of our faith. 

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Put Out into the Deep

"Put out into the deep..." Luke 5:4

When my youngest sister Tina got married in 2016 to Patrick, an American living in Tokyo, it was a big change for her. Tina lived a protected life here, surrounded by family, friends, and a Christian community. Leaving everything familiar behind was certainly a decision to put out into the deep waters of the unknown.

When Jesus got into Simon's boat, at the edge of Lake Gennesaret, Simon did not know Him at all. Simon and the other fishermen were washing their nets. That meant they had done with fishing and were going home for a nice meal and some rest. But Jesus got into the boat, and started preaching. After He finished speaking, Jesus said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch." If I was Peter, I might have said, "What?!!! After we have cleaned and washed our nets?!!!! No way!" Then I would have missed the greatest adventure of my life! 

When Jesus gets into our boat, in the ordinary everyday circumstances of our life, we need to be prepared to change course. Lord, may I always be sensitive to what You want me to do, say, or even to become. May I not resist Your call to put out into the deep! 

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

WOYWW: Peace in the Trenches

Did not have much time to do any painting so I just tore up a picture in a magazine, and glued it on my journal. After tearing up some more bits of paper, and writing the Bible verse, I altered the photo with the Prisma app. Easy peasy.

“ in the mercy of God forever and ever.” Psalm 52:10

We can always find safety and peace in God. It is said as long as there are math exams, there will always be prayer in schools. It is also said there are no atheists in the trenches of war. 

Billy Kim, the Korean evangelist, tells the story of one soldier in the Korean War who was ordered by his commander to rescue his fallen mates as the firepower rained down. Three times the command was repeated but the soldier just kept looking at his watch each time and kept ducking the orders. After looking at his watch a final time, he jumped out of the trench to obey. The next day he was asked to explain his actions. “I hate to say this but I’m not right with God. I was terrified about what might happen, but my mother told me what hour she would be praying for me each day. I was waiting for the hour to strike. I knew I would be covered by my mother’s prayer and be protected by my Lord.” 

Are we right with God? Do we have to wait till somebody prays for us to feel safe? Let us trust in God’s mercy, repent, believe and obey. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

One Map

“...the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” 1 Th 5:2

There was a violinist invited to play for a homeless man who died without friends or family. He accepted the invitation but unfortunately had a difficult time finding the burial site. When he finally arrived, it was to find that the pastor had gone, and only the workers were left. They were sitting around the grave, resting after the heavy labor. The violinist took a moment before the grave, and then gave the performance of his life. The workers were very appreciative and clapped enthusiastically. As the violinist left, satisfied he had done rightly by the homeless man, he heard one worker comment, “I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been digging septic tanks for 29 years!” 

Do we really know where we are headed after we die? Is our map correct? Even Waze makes mistakes sometimes and leads us to an entirely different place! Sometimes we go about our business as if we will live forever, amassing money, possessions, favor or power, without the least thought of our many neighbors who are needy, who are broken and desperate. Our map 🗺 for our life can be severely shortsighted and lacking in the correct moral compass. 

There is only one map that will get us to where we want to go. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. “NO ONE can come to the Father except through me”, He declared. (John 14:6) 

Monday, September 02, 2019

No Hope

“We do not want you to be those who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

We live in difficult, broken, even dark times. Many are hopeless, and in despair. Many do not know right from wrong. Many do not value the truth anymore. And what is so scary is that many do not deem human life sacred. People abroad who speak vehemently against extra judicial killings here in the Philippines, accept abortion as a right of women! Violence does not galvanize outrage. What is going to happen to our country if we continue like this? 

The thing is, if we do not think rightly, if we do not value truth, we can be lulled into accepting lies the enemy spreads, and we can find ourselves too deep in mud to save ourselves. 

St. Peter said, “In your hearts revere Jesus as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) We need to be able to think clearly and rightly. Morally. We need to study God’s Word if we are to have a basis for hope.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Humble Yourself

“Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” Sirach 3:20

What is the favor of God and should we desire it? Of course! Favor is the power that changes things for us. For example, an unknown author suddenly gets into Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. Oprah’s endorsement automatically catapults that author’s book into the best selling list. If Oprah’s favor can do that for a struggling author, imagine what God’s favor can do? 

Pastor Joel Osteen feels like crying every time he speaks about how Lakewood Church got the Compaq Center to hold their services in. Before, his father held services in a converted feed store in a seedier part of Houston and they were looked down upon. After John Osteen passed away, the younger Osteen took over. When he won the long battle to use Compaq Center for their church, they grew exponentially and became very influential.

The readings for this Sunday, from Sirach and Luke 14:1, 7-14, are about humility. Jesus cannot stress enough about how we will find God’s favor if we are humble. “Go take the lowest place,” Jesus advised, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Let us not allow the world to warp our way of thinking, and try always to be humble, instead of putting ourselves before others.