Monday, November 30, 2020

Confess Him Lord

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

There are many businessmen and world leaders who are already super successful, super powerful, but keep wanting more and more. Nothing this world offers is enough for them. There are many sports stars who have achieved the pinnacle of success and found they were still searching for more. 

One of them is retired cornerback Deion Sanders. His list of career highlights is so long, I got tired of scrolling down the page.  He is a two time Super Bowl champion and 8 time Pro Bowl champion. He was one of the biggest, most famous, richest superstar athletes in the world with a $10,000 bed in a $5.7 million dollar home and a collection of luxury cars, but he just felt empty. In 1997, he drove his car off a cliff, intending to end it all but he survived what was a 30- to 40-foot drop without much injury. 

“I was going through the trials and tribulations of life. I was pretty much running on fumes,” he said. “I was empty, no peace, no joy. Losing hope with the progression of everything.” He felt so lonely even if he had everything and achieved everything he could ever want. 

One day, after searching and talking to his Christian friends, this happened: “ I was lying there in bed about four o’clock in the morning when I was awakened by these awesome lights in my room. I say it was like a 747 had landed beside my bed, and there was this incredible rush of wind that felt like a helicopter had come in with it.” 

“I remember opening my eyes just the slightest bit and saying, ‘God, if that’s You, take me! Take me, Lord,’ and I was trembling all over. Before long it was silent and the lights disappeared, and later that night I got up and opened my Bible to a passage that said, ‘If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’ (Romans 10:9-10). The words hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew they were meant for me and at that precise moment I was delivered.”

Today he is so vocal about how he got saved, and he puts in time helping troubled youth find meaning in their life. Deion said, “Sports is sports, it’s a game. My faith is everything. It’s the gas that propels the courage, the truth, keeps me going. It’s the wind, it’s the wings, it’s the air that pumps into my lungs, that provokes me to live. Faith is everything.”

Lord, may we not believe that conquering the world lies in getting all we want from it. May we not be captivated by all that is enticing in the world. May we go after the one true treasure, You! 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Be Watchful!

 "Be watchful!" Mark 13:33

Finally, Advent begins, and the Gospel starts with the words, "Be watchful! Be alert!" We will continue to have readings about waiting, preparation, the light in the darkness, and the coming of the promised Messiah.

In our gift business, we begin preparing for Christmas in July. Our designs for the planners, calendars, cards have to be readied for printing. We start prototypes for new items, for nativity sets, etc. We have been in business since 1967. That's 53 years! But I still have to say with a moan, that we have never been fully ready for Christmas, and for this year, even less so! There's still, "Why didn't we do this?" "Why isn't this ready?" "We forgot to do this again?!!!"

And how about my heart? There's a constant struggle to balance the side of me that has to prepare for the commercial side of Christmas, with the inner preparations of my heart. There's that constant effort to remind our customers to buy their gifts early. We spruce up our stores way before the real Christmas season begins, ignoring the significance of Advent.

How do I stay watchful in the way Jesus meant in Mark 13:33? I need to be alert to what the Lord wants to give me, to be ready and eager to receive His gifts! The gift of hope, peace, love and joy are wonderful, wonderful gifts, much more precious than anything we can find under the most marvelous of trees! I need to keep a listening ear, to hear what He wants to say to me. I need to create a space for God to show up. Just in today's readings, in Isaiah63, Psalm 80, 1 Corinthians 1, and Mark 13, there was just sooo sooo much to ponder and get excited about, and to keep in my heart. All God wants is for us to be fully alive, to thrive, to have a life brimming with joy, not exhausted with the buying and wrapping of gifts, not lonely in the midst of the crowd! But joyful and eager, and yes, grateful!

Maranatha! Lord Jesus come! 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Pray, Pray, Pray

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

I doubt if many people take Jesus’ warning seriously because it is after all, about the end of the world. But His advice is valuable for this strange age we are living in. First, He tells us to beware when our hearts may be weighed down by carousing or drunkenness. I’ve never engaged in dissolute behavior while in a drunken revel and I assume it will not be pleasant the morning after. But Jesus puts being weighed down by the anxieties of life on the same level as carousing and drunkenness! Anxieties I am familiar with! I sometimes literally get breathless when signing many checks at a time! I know it is because the times are not normal. For months, all our stores were closed, and the only income we had was coming in from online sales which was not enough to pay for our expenses! 

I know Jesus is talking about the end of the world, but if our hearts and minds are filled with anxiety, it can also feel like we are being trapped between a precipice and a hard place with nowhere to turn. What is the solution Jesus gives us? He says to “be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

There is a lot to be gained by following Jesus’ teaching. Be on the watch. Observe what is happening. Be open to new opportunities. Don’t be consumed by what ifs, but be mindful of the present so we can act accordingly. And then, even more importantly, pray, pray, pray. My sisters and I have been praying together every day on Viber. We take turns leading. I have to confess placing all the concerns of our business, my health, my brother’s health, all those who are sick, etc., before God’s throne, has mitigated in no small way my panic attacks. Also, one of my sisters signs all the checks first. That has also made a difference. When we pray, God helps us, giving us small and big concrete solutions to “escape” our anxieties and enable us to “stand”. Especially sometimes when we feel we do not know what we are doing. When it seems there is no way, God can make a way. That is my constant refrain these days! 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Lift Up Your Head

“At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:27-28

We have seen many apocalyptic movies, scenarios of the end times. I am sure the reality will be much more horrifying and harrowing. Heavenly bodies will behave abnormally, and there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars. We will not be safe anywhere as the seas and land masses will move erratically. And Jerusalem will be besieged with armies.

But Jesus says in Luke 21, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” He is telling us not to be afraid when we experience these things. We can even be filled with expectant faith, not anxiety. 

The same is true when we are undergoing challenges and trials. We can feel desperate when we are sick and in pain, when someone we love is experiencing something terrible. This year 2020 has been full of tribulations we have never expected. So many have lost their jobs and businesses. So many have lost their homes. Some have even lost family and friends. It is like the apocalypse in some way for many people. 

How will we be able to lift our heads and look towards the sun? By knowing that God is in control. When He allows something to touch our lives, we need to take time to pray, listen to Him and see what He wants us to learn, what opportunities He is giving us in the midst of the chaos. He never leaves us without inner resources if we walk with Him. There is always grace available. Even when all seems dark, God can make a way when there seems to be no way. 

Father, I pray for all those who are reading this now. You know what they are going through, what trials and challenges they face. May they come to You with expectant faith, knowing You are the giver of all good things. There is nothing You will not do for them if it is for their good. Show them Your face, and show them the gifts You have for them. In Jesus mighty name, amen. 

Everything Passing Away

“The heavens and the earth will pass away, but My words will not pass.” —Luke 21:33

If one goes to Rome, it is not unusual when walking on the sidewalk to see an ancient column coming out of the pavement. Our guide told us that many a building project had to be stopped because they found ancient ruins in the proposed site. One of the important tourist attractions in the city is the Roman Forum or the Foro Romano. It is now all in ruins except for some impressive columns still standing or tumbled to the ground. It’s hard to imagine that for many centuries, the fate of Europe was decided on this very spot. It was the political, religious and commercial hub for more than a thousand years, with grand and impressive government buildings, temples, and market halls. The area was uncovered underneath 15 meters of dirt and rubble in the 18th and 19th century excavations after being used as a cow pasture! 

I’ve never been to New York, but one of the sites one never missed when going there before was the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan. 1 World Trade Center and 2 World Trade Center were the tallest buildings in the world when they were completed in 1973. It symbolized the power of America. What remains of this imposing structure now after the unthinkable happened on September 11, 2001? After the attacks, even scenes featuring the iconic buildings were deleted from some movies and TV shows! 

Do we live our life as if we will live forever? What are we investing more of our time, effort and treasure in? Even the most powerful men and women, the richest, the most influential or popular, will one day disappear from the face of the earth. They will only live on in what they have done or failed to do for their fellow men. Let us ponder what we will be remembered as, by our families and friends, co-employees, school mates, and neighbors. Have we lived by what Jesus taught on the sermon on the mount? We will be judged by God’s words which, unlike stone and steel, will not pass away. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


“You will even be betrayed by parents,

brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.” Luke 21:16

In today’s modern world it is staggering to discover that eleven people are killed every day just for being Christian. This is a statistic from Open Door’s World Watch List. The most dangerous places to be a Christian includes North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Iran and even India. To say “yes” to Jesus in these countries and many others means persecution, being cut off from government services like water, and even imprisonment. Many converts have to live their faith in secret, or face violent intense pressure from family to renounce their faith. And yet in spite of persecution and discrimination, there are 100-200 million Christians alleged to be under assault who still keep their faith. The majority are persecuted in Muslim-majority nations. 

We are so free here in the Philippines to express our faith, even announce it on billboards. We do not get surprised to see a Bible verse on a huge sign along the highway, or illuminated in lights in a tall building. Sometimes when we have a guest from abroad they tell us that having a sign like that is illegal in their country. They cannot even say “Merry Christmas” for fear of offending someone! They have to say “Happy Holidays” instead. They cannot put a nativity scene in public property. How terribly sad that people want to celebrate during this time of the year, give gifts, decorate their homes, but refuse to acknowledge the birthday celebrant! 

The advent season is almost upon us. Let us make the most of this to make a place in our hearts for Jesus! I do not remember a time when there has been so many free Advent recollections and reflections available online. That is one wonderful thing that has come out of this extended lockdown due to the virus. Thank You Jesus! 


Then they asked Him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to take place?” Luke 21:7

All three of the Catholic readings today, Revelation 14:14-19, Psalm 96, and Luke 21:5-11, are about the end of the world. I suppose this is because we are approaching the liturgical season of Advent. 

One night I had the strangest dream about of all things, the end of the world. There was a giant computer screen in the sky that everybody around the world could see, and a woman’s automaton voice was warning of the coming apocalypse. The screen was filled with swirling masses of gas, and a countdown, and lots of other changing images. The strange thing was almost no one was minding it. We were in an amazing theme park, and even if people could hear the countdown, people were running around trying to find the most exciting ride, the best blockbuster attraction. People were laughing, talking to each other, pulling each other to and fro. 

Isn’t that a picture of what’s happening in the world? In the Bible, there are several warnings about the end of the world. It may not happen to everyone at the same time, but for each and everyone of us, the end of the world will come. My neighbor, the one who gayly waves at me from across his car and gives us gifts every Christmas, his end of the world came and I I will never see him again in this side of the world. So many we have been praying for healing from Covid 19 went ahead of us. 

We live our lives as if there is no end in sight. But there is a countdown for each of us as surely as there was a visible one in my dream. No doubt God wants us to enjoy ourselves in this beautiful world He gave us, BUT He reminds us to live bearing in mind what is important. “Be serious and sober-minded so you can pray. Love one another intensely. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Use your gifts to serve others. In all things, may God be glorified.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)

Monday, November 23, 2020

King over our Checkbook?

Jesus said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” Luke 21:3-4

The story in the Gospel of St. Luke about the poor widow giving 2 copper coins is difficult for me to deal with.

Jesus says the widow with her meager offering gave much more than the rich people who put in much more money. It is true, hers was a sacrificial offering. She gave much more than she could afford!

How much did it cost me to give what I gave to the victims of Typhoons Ulysses and Rolly? I have to confess that after what we gave, we still eat good food, and we were still able to pay for cable TV and internet and everything we already consider ‘essential’. Jesus is watching and He definitely won't say, "Patsy gave of her livelihood."

Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday, instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to the secularism, the atheistic and totalitarian regimes of that time.

Christ came to establish His Kingdom. His Kingdom is not like the Kingdoms of this world. People admire philanthropists who give millions to charity. Would they see, like Jesus, the poor widow who gave 2 copper coins? Would they laud her for it? Mother Teresa was always praising the poor she served. She had witnessed first hand how they were generous with the little that they had. When she would give rice and food, either the mother or a child would run out with half of what Mother Teresa brought to share with another destitute family. Generosity is a Kingdom value. If we want Jesus to reign in our hearts, we have to have him reign over our wallets and checkbooks as well!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The God Box

“Beside restful waters He leads me;

He refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths

for His name's sake.” Psalm 23:3

Psalm 23 is very comforting. Verse 4 continues, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me...” If we walk with God, we need never be afraid. 

In the book, “The God Box: Sharing My Mother’s Gift of Faith, Love and Letting Go”, author Mary Lou Quinlan tells the story of her mother and how she put all her prayers in her “God Box”. When her mother died, she found not one but ten boxes full of prayers, big and small. Her mother started the practice in the mid-1980s when a friend noticed that she would listen to many peoples’ concerns and pray for them. Her friend suggested she write these down and put it in a box. After that, when she would learn about someone’s problem, she would say, “I’ll put it in the God box.”

When her daughter talked to her about changing her flooring, she would write, “Please let Mary Lou’s Pergo floor be the right choice”. When her father suffered a stroke that affected his speech, there were many, many prayers that went into the box for that. Each dream, each decision, each desperate prayer would find its way into her mom’s God box. 

This reminds me of the practice of Pope Francis putting prayers under his statue of a sleeping Saint Joseph. He invites Saint Joseph to “sleep on it”. We know that Saint Joseph received the very important warning about the danger of King Herod while he was asleep! 

Wherever we keep our prayers, when we whisper them in God’s ear, or shout it out in desperation, I know He keeps it close to His heart. He even keeps our tears as it says in Psalm 56:8: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” He is our good shepherd and He will always answer our prayers in a way that is best for us. We need only to trust in Him. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Alive and Well

“In the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:37-38

We have all lost loved ones and it is a reassurance for us for sure that Jesus says irrevocably that God is God of the living. One day I will see my parents again, and my brother-in-law Jing who was very instrumental in the growth of my faith. He died of melanoma when my niece was very young. We were all very young. 

I remember the first time I saw Jing. My sisters, my mom and I attended an Easter celebration of the Catholic community I am now a part of, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (The Joy of the Lord). He was up on stage and part of the vibrant music ministry. One couldn’t miss him! I remember being so exhilarated, so high and happy. When my sister saw him in the same school she studied in, she gave him a big smile. He invited her to Ang Ligaya’s evangelistic Coffee House events for young people. 

Eventually when he started visiting my sister, he gave us The Joy of Discovery bible studies. When a guy starts courting someone in the family, he is usually very careful. Not Jing. He was a very dominant personality. Our bible study was not your boring bible study where the teacher goes on and on and the students nod off. We had to be very creative! I was assigned the Book of Maccabees and I made paper dolls of the mother and seven sons. While I told the story, I cut off their hands and feet with scissors and put them in a frying pan. I forget who made a shadow play and who had to enlist my father as a sound talent. Even my mother had to make some effort presenting her bible story.

When we asked Jing to help us with our Christmas performance in the small prayer group we were attending, he had us audition for him so he knew the range of our voices. That did not sit well with one of my sisters who stomped up to her room in protest. Come the day of the performance, Jing “conducted” us, and it went very well with all the different voices. My sister relented and joined us as she could hear all our practicing. 

I have very fond memories of Jing, and how he loved to matchmake, and get involved in everything. Even when he lay, weak and in pain, in his hospital bed a few days before he died, he called me over to ask me how I was doing and what was happening. He stayed in the UST Hospital for a month before he left us. People in the reception of UST thought there was a celebrity in the room because of all the visitors and flowers. 

It is wonderful to know we will all see Jing again. He composed the most beautiful praise songs! I can imagine him singing with the choirs of angels and probably bossing them around! Ha ha! Yes, he is alive and probably just as involved in our lives as he was before. He now has a beautiful grandchild and I am sure he is in fellowship with his parents and my parents, and with the saints and angels praying for him and all of us. 

Friday, November 20, 2020


“And every day He was teaching in the temple area...all the people were hanging on His words.” Luke 19:47-48

Such a pity that Jesus’ words when He taught in the temple every day were not recorded. In John 21:25, the gospel author wrote: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” I can imagine how enthralled the people were, just as the two disciples were enthralled with His teachings as Jesus spoke to them on the way to Emmaus. 

Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself! ....They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:25-32) 

Would we like our hearts to burn within us? To be excited about God and His words? Do we find it frustrating that sometimes we do not understand the Bible, or it can be so boring to read it? I think of the Bible as one of those magnificent palaces with many rooms and corridors, many doors we have to walk through. As we get familiar with the layout, we won’t get lost anymore. As we get to know whose portraits are on the walls, “This is King David, and this is Father Abraham, and this, this is Moses when he was a baby rescued by the Egyptian princess...”, we will get more and more involved in the story of a people. It’s not just any story. It is a love story, and it is a story where we have a very special part. 

We are heirs of this amazing palace, this Kingdom that is not of this world. Our patient and loving Father did not leave us without a key to it, and that key is the Bible. Sometimes, when I get very lost, I find guides to help me, the Church Fathers, the Saints, talks on YouTube by Scott Hahn and Steve Ray and Brant Pitre to explain how the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old revealed and fulfilled. Then it becomes exciting how the details match and connect. The old palace becomes very much alive and relevant! I can imagine that this is how Jesus taught, no wonder the crowds hung on to His every word! 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

If My People

“For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:43-44

This is the desolate fate for the city prophesied by Jesus as he approached Jerusalem. Was punishment coming because the Jews did not recognize Him? True enough, in 70 AD., the Romans leveled the magnificent city of Jerusalem until all the buildings and the Temple were like a desert country. No more were the famed towers and colonnades and pleasant gardens. More than one million people were killed in the first Jewish-Roman war, including foreigners who visited for Passover and were trapped in the city by the revolt. According to the historian Josephus: “Round the altar the heaps of corpses grew higher and higher, while down the Sanctuary steps poured a river of blood and the bodies of those killed at the top slithered to the bottom.”

I don’t know about you but what is happening to our country seems to me to be very like a judgment. It started in January with the rumblings of Taal Volcano. We all prayed hard that it would not erupt and God mercifully gave us a miracle. Then this pandemic that has already claimed 1.3 million lives worldwide,  with 7,957 deaths in the Philippines. And then came the back to back super typhoons Rolly and Ulysses which made rivers of raging waters of our low lying cities. 

If this isn’t punishment, then it is a warning of worse things to come if we do not change our ways. We may say what can I do about what our leaders are doing? What can I do about corruption, about the denuding of our mountains, about the spread of fake news and all the selfishness. We can take to heart what God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If MY PEOPLE, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 

Are we part of a people peculiarly His own like the Jews were? Then we have it within us to change the course of a nation. God said it and I believe it. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Heal Our Land!

His subjects, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ Luke 18:14

How sad that Jesus knew so many did not accept Him as their King. In spite of all that God had done for His people, they still did not want Him to reign over them. This is what happened when God ruled over Israel through a series of prophets: 

When the people said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased the prophet Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is NOT YOU  they have rejected, but they have rejected ME as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking Me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” (1 Samuel 8:6-9)

Today, people around the world reject God and prefer to make and follow their own rules. And even Christians say “I am against abortion, FOR ME”. We do not realize that our country’s choices affect us in very profound ways. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Show us, O Lord, our individual and our corporate sins. Bring us back into Your divine favor and heal our land! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


“Zaccheus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house," Luke 19:5

I've read this story about Zacchaeus, the tax collector, so many times and each time I picture in my head a short, funny man, a cartoon like character, with no dignity.

But the other side of Zaccheus, I never really thought about. After all, he was a real person just like Jesus is real, not a cartoon character. Zacchaeus was probably a smart man, intelligent, to get to be one of the most influential tax collectors. And because he was shunned and despised, he was probably lonely. And perhaps he had dignity of another kind. He was very rich, extremely wealthy, and his clothes would have been of the finest cloth and tailoring. 

It must have taken a lot for him to climb a tree to see Jesus. He had to shed his pride. He became like a child again. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will NEVER enter the Kingdom of Heaven." 

Jesus saw Zacchaeus' heart. The eagerness, the longing to be accepted by Jesus, the willingness to give up the life he had. And so Jesus, looking up said, "I'm going to stay at your house today!" And Zacchaeus was like a little kid, unmindful of what he must have looked like, scrambling down the tree, eagerly, joyfully.

Jesus always sees that part of us, no matter how small, that longs to please Him. That part of our heart that desires to be united with the One who loves us best. And when He sees that, He invites us, "Today I want to stay at your house!" It doesn't matter what we've done before. If we clamber down from our indifference, our pride, our selfishness, in humility and determination, eagerly, joyfully, Jesus will come to stay in our heart!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Praise You, Lord!

“He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God.” Luke 18:43

Bartimaeus was a blind man and he called out to Jesus while Jesus passed by with his followers on the way to the Passover. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” he shouted several times even when he was shushed by the people surrounding Jesus. Jesus heard him and gave him his sight. What did Bartimaeus do? He became one of those following Jesus and gave glory to God. 

We have our sight, we can see! How glorious it is to wake up in the morning and read the Bible! For a blind person the gift of sight would be a miracle and he would praise God for it. To us, we take it for granted every day. How many miracles do we take for granted every single day of our life? Can we breathe without an oxygen tank beside us? Praise the Lord! Can we walk? Can we talk? Can we read? Write? Is our home not flooded? Do we have water? Electricity? WiFi? 

Are all our loved ones with us? Safe? Healthy? There is so much to thank God for. Let us not wait till something happens before we realize how much God does for us to take care of us. Let us not take these things for granted. Let us already follow Jesus, and give glory to Him for all we have! 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Share Your Master’s Joy!

‘Master, you gave me five talents. 

See, I have made five more.’

His master said to him, 'Well done, 

my good and faithful servant. 

Since you were faithful in small matters,

I will give you great responsibilities. 

Come, share your master's joy.’

Matthew 25:20-21

Some people have great talent, groundbreaking ideas, amazing skills, and awesome gifts. Think Michelangelo who painted the Sistine Chapel even if he said he preferred to sculpt. And sculpt he did, creating the magnificent David and the beautiful Pieta. At 71 years old, when he thought his life was over, he was commissioned by Pope Paul III to be the chief architect of the St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo, a self-taught architect, worked for 18 years to correct the engineering problems the former architects had created. I can imagine the Father saying to Michelangelo Buonarroti when he died at the age of 88 years of age, “Well done, good and faithful servant. With the gifts and talents I gave you, you have created masterpieces! Come share the Master’s joy!”  

What have we created with the gifts and talents God has showered upon us? Perhaps it is time to take stock of what we have done so far, and be more intentional for the future. We can have a goal, and plan little steps to reach it, so we can see our progress. And each day, we should be able to take one little step towards that aim. If we have plenty of gifts, God obviously expects more from us. When we use what God gives us, the natural consequence is sharing in the joy of our Father. It is the same joy He experienced when He made the earth, the skies, the land, waters, and animals. Each time He created something, He said, “It is good!” 

So let us not waste most of our time watching TV, looking at Facebook or Instagram. Let us use the gifts our Father has so generously given us! 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Pray Without Ceasing

“Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of His chosen ones who call out to Him day and night? Will He be slow to answer them? I tell you, He will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” Luke 18:6-8

The parable of the persistent widow teaches us to pray unceasingly, to never give up, especially when we do not see the answers we are asking for. This pandemic has been with us for most of 2020! We have prayed the virus will go away or a cure be found. Will we stop praying just because God has not given us what we want? 

I always keep in mind that Jesus never gave up praying. He would go off to the mountain by Himself to pray, to be with His Father. Perhaps like us, sometimes He would be at a loss for words, with all that He was facing. One time, He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” (Luke 22:42)

Can we pray like Jesus, if our husband is in a coma, our daughter has an incurable disease, our home was burned and we have lost everything? The ways of God are unfathomable. The Philippines was just hit by two consecutive strong typhoons and the damage sustained is just horrendous. So many people already reeling from the effects of the pandemic are hit again by the floods that inundated their homes, and destroyed their crops. Sometimes it can seem so hopeless. 

We always have to remember God never promised an easy life. But the God who gave us His only Son so that we could one day reign with Him in heaven, will not fail to answer our prayers if they are for our eternal good. We just have to put our faith and trust in Him, and never give up praying! 

Although we should act as if everything depends on us, much more should we pray as if everything depends on God, because it does!!! "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Friday, November 13, 2020

One Day at a Time

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.” Luke 17:33

Perhaps if we train ourself to “lose our life” a little bit at a time it will not be so painful. My sister and her husband have two kids staying with them at this time. They are the children of the caregiver of my brother-in-law’s mother. My sister tutors the 8 year old girl with her lessons, and my brother-in-law tutors the 6 year old boy. It is not at all easy. Because of the pandemic, their teachers just send worksheets by email and these kids are supposed to answer them without any help from the teacher! So in effect my sister and her husband are the teachers! It can be frustrating especially since the worksheets from the Department of Education are sometimes wrong! I can imagine the thousands and thousands of parents tutoring their children. Are they patient? Are they persevering? Are they loving? Are they “losing their life” a little at a time for their children? 

Each one of us has our own frustrations and challenges to deal with. If we are able to offer these to God as a sacrifice of praise, a little at a time, we will be able to save our life and not lose it. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Kingdom of God

“The Kingdom of God is already in your midst.” Luke 17:21

Many of the Pharisees were very curious about Jesus and would invite Him into their homes and ply Him with questions. One of those questions was: “When would the Kingdom of God come?” Then as now, people were preoccupied with the end of the world. So what, if we know when Jesus comes again? For each of us, there is an inevitable end, when God deems it is our time to leave earth. 

Jesus answered the Pharisees, “The reign of God is already in Your midst, it is within you, in your hearts, it is among you, surrounding you.” That’s a perfect description of where Jesus is. He was right there in front of the Pharisees, and today, He lives in the hearts of Christians everywhere. As Advent nears, it is time to examine ourselves. Is there a room at the inn of our hearts for Jesus? 

The world is starving for the immanent, the indwelling of God. “Entheos”, God within, is the root word of enthusiasm. Are we still inspired by God’s Word so that others  catch it from us? Do we get a fire in the belly such that we desire to know more and more, and have more and more of the treasure that Jesus said is within our reach? Do we wake up early in the morning eager to know what gifts God has for us each day? 

Holy Spirit, You are our teacher. Bring us to a place where we delight in Jesus, the Word made flesh. May we make more and more room for Him in the inn of our heart. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Dark Valleys

“Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side; With your rod and your staff that give me courage.” Psalm 23:4

Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd”, is a favorite of many, but we do not like to think of walking in dark valleys even with the Lord at our side. It is inevitable however. Everyone has to go through trials and challenges and yes, dark valleys, in our journey. 

Yesterday I read Omy Romero’s book, The Boat is Sinking. I found it so relevant for these uncertain times when big and small businesses are closing, or on the brink of. People are losing jobs, so many are depressed and anxious. So many kids, parents and teachers are struggling with online learning. This pandemic monster has not slowed down in rearing its ugly head. 

What Omy has learned from his personal experiences, from what his clients had to go through, and his study of the Bible is that “seemingly insurmountable odds and challenges turn out to be catalysts that can take us from the pits of our life to its pinnacles.” He shows us that rock bottom should not be met with dread but with hope. 

Omy shares that the best thing that happened to him was losing his job the same year his wife Rosanne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He hit rock bottom and they had no savings. But instead on focusing on what he did not have, he started asking questions like where did he want to be in ten years time. He realized he had the freedom to be open to possibilities and he made the most of that. Omy became an entrepreneur and his business steadily grew. 

The same thing happened when my dad lost his job. He was able to help my mom with the little business she started. Plus he was also able to spend more time with us which made us happy. 

God is able to walk with us through the hard places and help us if we do not lose hope and give in to despair. Yes, He is our good shepherd. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Useless Servant

"We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty." Luke 17:10

Once I gave a talk about our business. I shared about how God is our partner, that although my mom had no business background, no capital, no brilliant marketing strategy, we were able to build a successful business with an identifiable brand. And I quoted Bible verses. So when I got home, my attitude was like, "I did something for You God!" and I was sort of proud. Well I opened my Bible and this is the verse I found! I shouldn't be proud about doing God a favor! I did no more than my duty! 

This reminds me of the famous preacher, church planter and author of the best selling book, "Crazy Love". Before giving a sermon, Francis Chan saw his face filling up the cover of a magazine, and he enjoyed it. He was thrilled. He liked it that he got all this attention, and was sought after for interviews, and TV guestings. Then God convicted him, and he went down on the floor and cried. As God's servants, we have a mission, a purpose, a duty to do what our Chief orders us to do. And just as in the military, the Private doesn't expect to be praised by the top brass for doing his job, we too shouldn't expect to be thanked. We should do our job to the best of our ability knowing it is a privilege to work for the God of the Universe, confident we will get paid with an immeasurably priceless inheritance. 

Monday, November 09, 2020


“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.” Psalm 46:2-3

Super typhoon Rolly (Goni) devastated the Bicol region last October 31. Hectares and hectares of crop land were damaged leaving farmers with no livelihood. Roads, and bridges, schools, homes and buildings were damaged and destroyed. Lahar flowed down from Mayon volcano and covered homes and rendering roads impassable. 300 homes were buried under huge rocks, 10 thousand small homes were washed away by flood waters. 

We prayed that the typhoon would grow weaker as it approached us here in the Metro Manila. We rejoiced when the intensity 5 typhoon veered away from hitting us. But our prayers and actions should not end when the typhoon did not affect us. Thousands and thousands of our brothers and sisters have no electricity, homes, no livelihood, no schools. We cannot imagine how devastated they are facing a bleak future. We must help and remember that it says in scripture, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed”. (Proverbs 19:17)

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Sunday, November 08, 2020

‘En Theos’ God Within

And the foolish said to the prudent, "Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out." 

Matthew 25:8

In the Parable of the Virgins, there are 5 foolish bridesmaids and 5 wise ones. They are all waiting to welcome the groom who is very likely arriving with the Bride after fetching her from her parents' home. The wedding party is very delayed and the bridesmaids get sleepy. Picture it- 10 beautifully dressed and made up ladies, waiting outside in anticipation of the wedding party. At first they are excited, talking to each other animatedly, but as time goes tic ticking by with no sign of the Bride and Groom, they sit down and sink into sleepiness.

Alas! When the warning shout comes that the wedding party is near, the foolish bridesmaids find out their lamps are sputtering! They ask the wise ones for some oil but they say there will not be enough for all! So the foolish ones leave to buy oil and we know what happens! After all that preparation and waiting, they are not let into the wedding feast! "I do not know you!" the Bridegroom says.

What is that all important oil that keeps our lamps burning? Is it the Holy Spirit? Is it the Word of God that is a lamp to our feet? Is it prayer? I think it is everything that keeps us close to God and in fellowship with Him. We should not allow the fire we have within us to die. We should keep

 ‘en theos', God within.

Because if it dies, if it is not tended, we cannot beg, borrow or steal this oil, as the Bridesmaids found out to their peril!