Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Is it Me?

 "One of you will betray me!" Matthew 26:21

How inconceivable is it that Judas, a man who had walked with Jesus, listened to Him, took care of his money, saw miracles, could betray Jesus for a measly 30 pieces of silver? 30 pieces was the cost of a slave! Would it have been more understandable if it was 3000 pieces or 3 million pieces of silver?

Like all of us, Judas Iscariot had preconceptions about Jesus. He probably thought Jesus would be the promised King of the Jews, who would save them from the oppression of the Romans. He followed Jesus maybe because he saw how popular Jesus was, and he believed he could profit from this as evidenced by the passage in John 12:6. "He was a thief who was in charge of the disciples' funds, and he often took some for his own use." Judas' heart was obviously calloused, self-serving. He was blinded by his selfishness from seeing who Jesus really was!

We too can be like Judas. When we fail to see Christ in others, we can easily betray them. When we have expectations about what a husband or child or neighbor should be and should do, and they fail to live up to those expectations, we can easily rationalize our own lack of love, compassion and service. I often judge people and get irritated with their inadequacies. I often forget to see others as God sees them. I often forget the Christ within each one of us. Yes, one of us betrays Christ, and that one is me! Thankfully, Jesus always forgives us seventy times seven, and He brings us back into His fold, like the good shepherd He is! 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Fullness of Life

"I will lay down my life for You!" 

John 13:37

During the Last Supper, we would all like to be Peter and not Judas the betrayer. We would all like to be the one who says to the Lord, "I will lay down my life for You! I am ready to die for You! I will follow till the end!" 

We would all like to see ourselves as coming from the heroic mold and certainly Peter thought he could hack it. But Jesus knew the truth. "Lay down your life for me?" answered Jesus, "Before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times!" What was the difference between Peter and Judas who betrayed Jesus willfully? Their hearts. 

"A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." (Luke 6:45, NIV) Peter spoke what his heart was full of, his ardent desire to be there for Jesus. Jesus knew what was in Peter's heart just as He knows what is in ours. 

Lord, may my heart be full of love for You and Your Word. May my heart just burst with gratefulness that You chose me. If I let go of You, as Peter did, bring me back. Forgive me of all my sins and show me the path to fullness of life.  

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Wasting Our Life

“Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?” Mark 14:4

When Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of intensely aromatic oil. She broke the bottle and poured the costly genuine spikenard on Jesus’ head. Spikenard during Bible times was used to anoint those of high honor, and symbolized the very best, like the “gold standard” does today. 

Because it was very expensive, perhaps worth 3 years’ wages, some were indignant. “It could have been sold and the money given to the poor!” What these indignant people did not realize was that whatever we lavish on Jesus will never be wasted. Our time, our money, our resources, our gifts and talents.  Whatever we give, He will use and multiply a hundredfold. 

Many people thought Mother Teresa was wasting her life on the poorest of the poor. But she was really wasting her life on Jesus. “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise,” she declared.  "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." And then one of my favorites: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."

Are we wasting our life doing small things with great love? Each one of us is unique and precious and has a role in building the kingdom of heaven. Lord, may I do my very best with the small things you have given me to do. May I not count it as a waste when I give my time, talent and treasure to Your work. Jesus wasted His life for us, His very blood. What are we wasting for Him? 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Through God’s Eyes

My dwelling shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 

Ezekiel 37:27

In the beginning of Ezekiel chapter 37, Ezekiel describes his vision of a lifeless valley of very dry bones. It’s a desert. As Ezekiel gazes at this desolation, God asks him, “Can these bones live? Can they ever have life in them again?” Ezekiel answers that only God could ever know that. But looking at the bones, it seems as if all hope is gone. 

God then tells Ezekiel to speak to the bones on the ground. He tells them to, “Hear the word of Yahweh, hear the word of God.” God will then bring breath, the Holy Spirit, a new wind, to these bones and they will live again and in this vision God does just that.

When we look at the present landscape, it seems just as bleak as this valley of dry bones. Of course economies around the world have suffered but ours is especially badly hit as it has contracted by 9.5%, the worst since 1946. About 4.5 million of our people have lost jobs. That’s not surprising considering so many businesses have laid off people or have permanently closed. If we take a look at the state of education, it can be depressing. I saw a grown man cry on TV bemoaning the fact that he can’t teach his children because he himself never got past grade 2. Then there are the rising suicide rates, and young people becoming mentally unstable. We hoped we were over the worst of the pandemic, but it’s back with even more ferocity. “Can we have life as we know it again? “ we echo the words in Ezekiel. 

If we look at this scenario, let us gaze through God’s eyes instead. He is doing a new thing, a major reset. Only He can bring a fresh, new wind through this desolation. He says, “Hear My Word, read My Word, and I will dwell among you, and guide you, and you shall be my people once again.” Instead of helplessness, if we focus on God, He will be sure and give hope. If He can bring a valley of dry bones to life again, it will be easy for Him to get our country and people on track again if we turn to Him. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Mighty Champion

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

The difference of Christianity from other religions is grace. In Islam, I think you get to Paradise according to your good character and the good deeds you do (Quran, 16:97). In Buddhism, if you follow the Noble Eight Fold Path, you will attain Nirvana. Hinduism believes in reincarnation based on karma, which seems to be a force in a person’s present that affects what happens in future lives. 

None of these belief systems seem to have a mighty champion who does all the work for us. One of my favorite verses is from Exodus 14:13, when Moses tells the people to just stand firm when they were being pursued by Pharaoh’s mighty army with 600 of Pharaoh’s best chariots and charioteers. The Jews were caught beside the shore with nowhere to hide. 

Moses reassured, “Fear not! Stand your ground and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today...The Lord Himself will fight for you, you only have to keep still.” We know what happened. The waters parted, the Israelites went through, and the chariots drowned when the waters closed in on them. Indeed when Jesus became a man and was crucified, He took all our sins with Him. He is our mighty champion. All we need to do is repent, believe in Him, accept His saving work for us and receive His Holy Spirit. Pure grace. Pure gift. 

Thank You Lord for grace, a way out of sin and a way into Your family. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Courage to say Yes

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

It must have been frightening for Mary to receive a message from an angel. And even more frightening to realize that her whole life was about to take a radical turn. Her response? “Here I am, the Lord's bondslave, His handmaiden. Let it be with me as you say."

How many of us would have had the 

courage to say that?

Instead of fear, Mary faced the future with faith. Faith is believing God, rather than

giving credence to what we think, 

what we feel, or what others say.

We all have to face our own destiny and in Romans 12:3 we learn that God gives each of us a measure of faith with which to face whatever is handed out to us. We have a choice whether to grow that faith or to allow it to wither. And the way to grow and make our faith blossom is, “to HEAR the message of Christ." (Romans 10:17) Every time we say yes to God we open a door to more and more of His blessings, more of His light entering our life. To say yes like Mary is to welcome God’s action and intervention in our life. When He stands at the door and knocks (Rev. 3:20), do we say, “Here I am, come in!”

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


“We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.” John 8:33

Most of the survivors of the Holocaust have harrowing stories to tell. Dr. Edith Eva Eger is no different. She arrived in Auschwitz as a young girl in May 1944. She came down from the cattle car with her mom and sister and there was a man with cold eyes pointing to the left and right. He pointed that her mother go left, and Edith and her sister were to go right. She followed her mom, and the man came after her. He looked her in the eye and said her mother was just going to shower. She never saw her mother again. Someone pointed to the smoking chimneys to tell her where her mother had gone. 

She saw the man again and someone told her he was Mengele, the angel of death. He wanted to be entertained and her friends pushed Eva to dance for him because was a ballerina who had danced many times before. After the dance, Mengele gave her a piece of bread which she shared with her friends on the top bed. Many months later, she was in a death march and anyone who was too weak to go on was just shot and left in the ditch. Her friends noticed that Eva was shaking from exhaustion. They formed a chair with their hands and carried her. 

In a book she wrote entitled The Choice, Eva writes: “What happened can never be forgotten and can never be changed. But over time I have learned that I can choose how to respond to the past. I can be miserable or I can be hopeful - I can be depressed or I can be happy. We always have that choice, that opportunity for control... Suffering is universal. Victimhood is optional.” Eva chose not to be bitter, not to be enslaved by unforgiveness and hatred. Is any sin holding us captive? Lent is the perfect time to break free from shackles. There is a grace that God gives us every time we come to Him for healing. Let us choose freedom in Christ and not slavery. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Without Complaints

"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

In the book of Numbers there is a very strange story of how the people complained bitterly against God and Moses. The journey from Egypt to the promised land was arduous and their patience was wearing thin. "Why have you brought us out from Egypt only to die in this desert, where there is no food or water!? We are disgusted with this wretched food!" 

In punishment, the Lord sent serpents which bit them and many died. When the people repented, realizing their sin, the Lord instructed Moses what to do, and Moses obeyed. He made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole and when someone who was bitten by a serpent gazed at it, he was healed. 

We too are on a pilgrim journey along the desert roads of this earthly life. There is much to complain about. This pandemic has gone on interminably long. The numbers of Covid cases have turned into names and some of those who have perished alone in hospital rooms are people we know. The corruption in the government even at the highest levels bodes ill for the hoped for timely supply of vaccines, and the finding and approval of effective cheap repurposed medicine to help in the prevention and cure of this virus. 

God never promised an easy carefree trip. He promised that He would walk with us and bring us to the Promised Land. We need to find God's promises in the Bible and hang on to them. There are too many serpents roaming around waiting to bite us. But just as the Israelites could look to the bronze serpent for healing, we have Jesus to gaze at. 

Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.”

Lord, many things in the Bible are mysteries to me. Why choose a saraph serpent as an instrument for healing? But I do not need to understand everything. I just need to believe You and Your Word. I just need to walk with You and follow Your lead. I want to go where You will bring me, no where else! Are you willing to go where the Lord will lead without complaints? 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Go and Sin No More

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

Every Lent, I go through some guilt trip because of not doing enough. The story of the woman caught in adultery in the 8th chapter of John is my story. If people knew what I do and don't do during Lent, they could bring me before Jesus and accuse me. Adultery is a very grave sin, but “every sin is an act of infidelity toward God, to whom we belong in a bond of covenant love. Sin is a violation of the vows of our Baptism and an act of destruction against our own soul.” (Anawim)

But what does Jesus do when I am unfaithful to Him? When I am selfish, insensitive, uncaring of the poor and of others’ needs and feelings? Does He condemn me? 

He said, "Let the man or woman among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her." Twice Jesus bent down and started tracing on the ground with His finger. What did He write? Only I could see it. Only I could see that He saw my heart, He saw my sin. The second time he bent down, He erased it all so there was no record of it. "I do not condemn you," He said, "but from now on, avoid this sin." 

Thank You Lord, for erasing my sin with Your blood. Thank You that there is no condemnation for I belong to You (Romans 8:1).

Sunday, March 21, 2021

See Jesus, Be Jesus

“Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” John 12:21

“Scarlet and the Black”, starring Gregory Peck, is one of my favorite movies of all time. We used to watch it again and again during the time videos were on Betamax tapes. I am now reading “The Vatican Pimpernel”, a book about the real Father Hugh O’Flaherty, who looks nothing like the handsome and dignified Mr. Peck. 

The Irish Catholic priest, Monsignor O’Flaherty, was a senior official of the Roman Curia during World War II, and was responsible for saving around 6,500 Allied POWs, refugees and Jews from being captured by the Fascists in Italy and the Nazis of Germany. He was quite creative and resourceful in evading the traps of the Gestapo and the Sicherheitsdienst by wearing all sorts of disguises, sometimes walking the streets of Rome as a nun or coal man. This is what earned him the nickname “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican”.

Many times the Monsignor risked his life to shelter fugitives in rented apartments, convents, monasteries and Italian homes. He formed a network of many valiant hearted men and women including priests, aristocrats, Italian royalty, and diplomats who funded the operations, smuggled messages, scrounged around for black market food and medical supplies, falsified documents, and harbored fugitives within their small cramped apartments or palazzos. It was a game of hide and seek where people’s lives were at stake. Ireland had declared neutrality in the war, but when the Monsignor observed how the Jews were treated by the Nazis, his motto became, “God has no country”, and he knew what he had to do.

After the war, the Gestapo colonel Herbert Kappler, the Monsignor’s adversary, very ably played by Christopher Plummer in the movie, was tried and convicted of war crimes, and was imprisoned. The Monsignor was one of the few people who visited the man who had tried to capture and kill him, even to putting a white line that separated the Vatican from occupied Rome. Several years after, the Monsignor baptized him into the Catholic Church.

Very few of us have the opportunity to literally save thousands of lives. But we can always live our life so that others may see Jesus in us and want to live their life as Christians. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Never Before

 “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” John 7:46

The temple guards were referring to Jesus in this passage. They were all impressed with what Jesus said. 

There is a quote I like which goes: You can't have too many books. Indeed I have so many, I haven't read most of them. But the Bible is a different kind of book. So much wisdom, guidance, stories to ponder distilled into less than 80 books! Even if you read the Bible a thousand times or more, you'll get even more insight and understanding from its pages every time you read it. Because the more you read, the more God gives His Spirit! You will see that there is so much beauty and truth in the Bible! Can you imagine what John the beloved disciple said? He said that there were so many other things that Jesus did, and of course said, that even if the whole world was a library about Him, it could not hold all of it! I would have especially liked to have been there on the road to Emmaus when Jesus explained to Cleopas and his companion, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself! (Luke 24:13-35) That would have been awesome! 

Jesus' Word will not go back to Him void, without fruit, without effect (Isaiah 55:11). Jesus showed that when He curses something, it dies. I am almost sure Jesus blessed and confessed growth and healing and strength for all those who believe in Him. In John 17:20, He prayed for ALL those who WILL believe in Him throughout the ages. His Word has power, and that is why in spite of persecution, there is an explosive growth of Christianity today, especially in Africa, Latin America and even in China. Isn't it a miracle that the teachings of an obscure rabbi changed the world, and changed the way we measure time? If His teachings can do that, can you imagine what it can do for me and you?

Friday, March 19, 2021

Where is Jesus?

“You should have known that I would be in My Father’s house.” Luke 2:49

Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem every year on the Feast of the Passover. When Jesus was 12 years old, they all joined the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. Passover is a major Jewish holiday, celebrated up to the present to commemorate the Exodus. This was the time God liberated the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt 3,300 years ago. With signs and wonders, God led the Jews from Egypt, through the parting of the Red Sea, the wilderness of Mount Sinai, and gave Moses the Ten Commandments. 

After the week long festivities, Joseph and Mary started walking towards Nazareth. After one day of travel, they looked for Jesus, thinking he was in the caravan of family and friends journeying homeward. When they could not find him, they walked back and searched for Him. They found him three days after the Feast was over. 

Where did they find Jesus? In the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard Him were astonished at His understanding  and intelligence. Of course His parents had been worried! “Son, why have You treated us this way? We were so distressed to find You were not with us,” His mother lamented. 

“Didn’t you know I would be in My Father’s house?” Jesus replies. Where will we find Jesus today? He wishes to live in the temple of our hearts. Can He find a home in our hearts? During Passover in the Holy Land, one of the activities is cleaning their houses, from top to bottom, vacuuming especially for any minuscule chametz(“leaven”). We too should spend time searching our hearts for “leaven”, ways we disobey God and His laws. Let us make room for Jesus this Lenten season, do some ‘spring cleaning’ to be ready for His joyous Easter resurrection! 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Stand in the Gap

“Moses, his chosen one, withstood him in the breach ​to turn back his destructive wrath.” 

Psalm 106:23

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend, it says in Exodus 33:11a. He was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Then when the stiff-necked people angered God at Sinai, God said, “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.” What did Moses do when God was ready to destroy all of Israel and just raise up a new nation out of Moses’ descendants? Did Moses just say yes, ok, do what You want, Lord? No, Moses “stood in the breach”.

Standing in the breach is a military metaphor, meaning to stand in a break made in a fortress or city wall where an army can rush in and invade. In Sinai, Moses heroically chose to confront God, standing in the gap, interceding like a warrior who tries to stop an enemy at the risk of his life. God relented in the punishment He had threatened to inflict on his people, it says in Exodus 32:14. 

We see clearly that we as Jesus’ friends (John 15:15), we may stand in the gap for others. We can plead earnestly like Moses for our family, friends, our nation, whatever we care about. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote in a poem, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” We will never know how much evil has been turned aside, and how much good has gushed forth, when we are at our knees in prayer. We do not know if God really did intend on destroying the rebellious Jews, who made for themselves a molten calf and worshiped it, or if He was testing His servant Moses. 

What we must take away from this passage is we must never give up praying no matter how dire the situation. Perhaps a son or daughter has gone astray and fallen with a bad crowd, a husband is very sick with Covid in the ICU, our country is still in the thick of the pandemic and four million people need jobs, millions of students are having a difficult time with their online studies, so many are depressed and want to commit suicide....this list can go on and on. We need to stand in the breach like Moses, to intercede for one another, to fill in those gaps in one another’s spiritual armor. 

Another example is during the time of the prophet Ezekiel. God was angry because, “The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice.” And we read in Ezekiel 22:40 that God “looked for someone among them who would ...stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” Today, will He find us standing in the gap for our nation, for our leaders, for our people, for our family and friends? 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I Will Not Forget You

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15

We can find many images in the Bible that speak of God’s love for us, His protection, His faithfulness and generosity. If we know these truths for ourselves and stand on them, we can pass it on to others. This is an important part of our mission and our purpose. 

I came across a sharing by Helen Luecke. She was feeling depressed and hopeless because she just learned that her mother had just 3 months to live. The doctor said, “There’s no need to bring her back. The chemotherapy is no longer working.” On the way home, she and her mother took the plane. Before the plane left the tarmac, a tall young man brought a 7 year old girl on board and sat her across the aisle from Helen’s mother. Helen thought, “I hope she doesn’t bother Momma.” 

The small girl, whose name was Lisa, started crying. Momma leaned over with a tissue and caught the tear, “Now where’s the smile?” Momma continued to talk to Lisa until a smile came. It turned out her parents were separated and lived far away from each other and she was shuttled back and forth. Momma listened because she knew about tears, and she knew about how life goes on, that the years will fly by, and that there’s a smile behind every tear. Lisa listened to all the wisdom Momma had to share and was comforted. Helen listened too and did not feel so sad.

When the plane landed, little Lisa exposed a snaggle-tooth smile and said thank you to Momma for talking to her. Momma had been a bearer of a message of hope and consolation. We too are called to be bringers of light into every dark corner. We do not need to go to Africa or China to be missionaries. We just need to know the message that God wants spread into every corner of the world, and pass it on to anyone we can, even if they’re half a world away but reachable by phone or our desktop. 


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Do Not Breathe

“Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” John 5:14

It is very clear from what Jesus said that there is a correlation between sin and sickness and our general condition. We know that if we drink excessively, take drugs, indulge in extra marital sex, there are dire consequences. If we do not choose to forgive, if we gossip, lie, slander others, our relationships are put in jeopardy. 

I was listening to this talk about narcissm. We all have manifestations of narcissm I suppose, especially in this day of selfies and preoccupation with taking pictures of our food, and before the pandemic, our travels, parties, and putting it all online. But there is such a condition called Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is self-love gone awry, when we love ourselves inordinately. We can ask ourselves these questions: Do I have an excessive sense of self-importance that I have to be the center of any gathering or conversation? Do I exaggerate my talents and achievements and highlight little accomplishments? Do I require constant admiration? Am I offended when I am criticized? Our children can also become an extension of ourselves when we post their accomplishments on Facebook or Instagram and feel bad if we don’t get plenty of likes and congratulations. 

I have read some posts or articles about how some feel sad or depressed when going through Facebook. FOMO or the fear of missing out drives people to Facebook to see what their friends are doing on Saturday night. Then they may feel deprived when they see their friends having fun, traveling or eating out, while they are stuck at home. Envy is one of the 7 capital vices and we need to watch out for that as well as the other 6: sloth, anger, gluttony, pride, greed and lust. 

“Do not sin anymore”? After the list of capital sins and the talk about narcissm, it seems as if Jesus should have said, “Do not breathe anymore”. It seems just as impossible! And that is why Jesus came, to make the impossible possible. He is the only One who could make a way where there is no way for all of us sinners to enter heaven. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

A Joy!

“For I create Jerusalem to be a joy ​and its people to be a delight...” Isaiah 65:18

If we read the 65th chapter of Isaiah, we cannot fail to see how unhappy God is. “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations, a people who continually provoke me to my very face .” (v.2-3) “I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” (V.12)

And then the tone changes and God promises “to create new heavens ​and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered ​or come to mind. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness ​in what I create; For I create Jerusalem to be a joy ​and its people to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem ​and exult in my people.” 

What changed? Always God is hopeful that there will be a ‘remnant’, a small group of people who will be obedient to Him, who will seek to delight in Him, who will not have rebellious spirits. Do we desire to be that people? A people God will call His joy and delight, the apple of His eye? How do we be that people? First, God already delights in us. Second, we are the ones that pull away, wanting to do things “my way”. Third, when we realize that we are running away from God and not toward Him, we can always , always make a decision to run back to Him, to repent. And like the prodigal son, we will be welcomed with wide open arms. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

God’s Masterpiece

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16

Loving is God’s masterpiece. How can the human heart, described in Jeremiah 17:9, as “more tortuous than anything, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” learn to love like God? 

I have been painting in my faith journal since 2006. Back then, my paintings were awkward and elementary. Just simple and childlike. From painting every day, I have learned how to shade and use colors. I'm no expert, but I practice drawing. For instance, it took me 2 years to learn how to draw hands. Now I’ve moved on to digital drawing, and constantly practicing every day. 

It's the same with loving. It needs practice. How can we expect to love as Jesus loves? He who gave His life for His friends! He allowed His body to be broken and mangled just so those He loved would have joy, peace and love, and ultimately, be with Him in heaven! Loving the way Jesus loves takes a choice every day. We need to be conscious that God loves each one of us so much, we will have no choice but to spread that love to others. I love what Pope Francis said in one of his Angelus messages. “Even when the situation seems desperate, God intervenes, offering man salvation and joy. Indeed, God does not remain apart from us, but enters the history of mankind; He ‘meddles’ in our life; He enters, in order to animate it with His grace and save it.”

Admittedly, when WE meddle, we sometimes or even oftentimes make a bad situation worse. But much is forgiven those who love much. We have to look at others and see them the way God sees them. Our annoying boss. God knows his heart, God sees his pain. Terror teacher? She has fears too. A father who refuses to be helped. A friend who refuses to forgive. God sees all our idiosyncracies, our weaknesses, our sins. But He loves us anyway. He doesn't love us because we are pretty, or because we perform well at our work, or because we are always kind and helpful. He loves first. Lord, teach us every day to love like You! 

Lord, only You can help us make a masterpiece of our life!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Be Merciful

“God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" Luke 18:13


I doubt if many of us say this prayer the tax collector prayed, and that Jesus used as an example of a good prayer. I like reading stories of saints, and it is likely that a good number of them pleaded with God for mercy when they realized they were sinners. 

There's Saint Augustine who sired an illegitimate son with his long time mistress. He left her in the hopes of marrying an heiress. Saint Callixtus was a world class thief who became a Pope! Then there's Saint Olga who out of revenge buried people alive or burned them. Her grandson St. Vladimir was bloodthirsty and offered human sacrifices. Saint Mary of Egypt was a prostitute who seduced all the crew and pilgrims on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Blessed Bartolo Longo who started out as a satanic priest. 


But once they realized the enormity of their sin, they all turned to God, asked for mercy and forgiveness and changed their lives. Sometimes it's harder for us, who are not murderers or prostitutes, to realize how sin alienates us from our Father. Sin is sin, no matter how big or small. A red spot in an immaculate wedding gown can be seen from afar and will bother the bride. Lord, have mercy, for I am a sinner! 

Friday, March 12, 2021


"Take with you words and return to the Lord." Hosea 14:3

Sometimes all I do is talk, talk, talk to God, not allowing Him to say a word to me! What are the words that we should say to God? This passage from Hosea is always recited on the Sabbath preceding Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people.

The Jews usually observe this holy day  with long fasting and prayer in the synagogue. As the name suggests, it is a day of atonement and repentance.

Perhaps the words we are to say are, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." I was talking to a 6-year old boy the other day who told me about his sins. He had been disobedient and looked so repentant with his head hanging down. I told him that if he confessed his sins to God and apologized to the person he was disobedient to, God will forget his sin and he will be as white as snow. That’s what it says in the Bible. 

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sinsdeserve or repay us according to our iniquities. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-13

How wonderful that our God is compassionate and loving, faithful and gracious! Always He teaches us His way of love. 


Thursday, March 11, 2021


“ the finger of God..." Luke 11:20

Can we say we have been touched by the finger of God? Have we seen God's power at work in our lives? Or perhaps we see God intervening in someone's life and wonder why He has not done the same for us. We live in a skeptical world, very much the same as the time when Jesus lived. Back then, they thought that when Jesus cast a demon out of a deaf and dumb person, He did it with power from Satan! Today, we prefer to be sophisticated skeptics, always questioning whether God is present or if He exists at all! I saw this picture on Facebook of a big sign "GODISNOWHERE". How would we read it? God is nowhere? Or God is NOW here?

When we start with faith, we will see signs of God's being "now here" everywhere! I see it in every answered prayer. I see it in every encouragement and smile I receive. I see it in the miracle of our business that thrives in spite of the pandemic. I see it in the perseverance and faith of my countrymen who have good humor in the midst of trying times. I see it in my brother’s continued healing. 

Sometimes we need bigger signs that God is present. Marion Brown, a court reporter, grew away from her faith as she got older. She became skeptical that God was listening when she talked to Him. It took a big fire, the 2003 wildfire that destroyed over 700 thousand acres and more than 3000 homes, to make her believe again. Her family's home was razed to the ground. When she went back to the site with her husband and kids to find if there was anything of value that was left, they looked around and everything was just ashes. There were even holes on the ground because the roots of the trees were burned. She started to pray for words to say that would help her sons heal. She could see her younger son Erik quietly going around with tears falling down his cheeks. He suddenly got excited when he found a book but when he picked it up, it disintegrated in his hands. 

"Wait! Look!" he shouted. In his hand was left a most fragile piece of ash. It was a picture of a family holding hands, with the words, "Count your blessings."  

Lord, may I always remember to be grateful for Your presence in my life. May I remember to count my blessings and not wait for big signs before I believe You are NOW here, working in my life! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Hear Me

“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” Deuteronomy 4:1

Have you ever worn hand me downs, or clothes from the ukay-ukay? If you’re a younger child, you usually wear what your older sibling outgrew and can’t fit into anymore. I happen to like rummaging through the piles of clothes in the ukay-ukay, clothes somebody gave away, got tired of, or perhaps became too big for. But isn’t it exciting to receive something really meant for you, with your name on it, not handed down? 

Well, sometimes we think that we can only hear God through the priest or preacher, maybe a Bible teacher or scholar like Scott Hahn or Steve Ray or Priscilla Schirer. But it would be really exciting to “hear” God for ourselves, not piece of revelation passed on to us from others. Is it possible? 

In John 10:27 Jesus very clearly tells us that, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” That means it is very possible to hear God for ourselves, to have a revelation from God, guidance and light. If we want to be part of Jesus’ family, His flock, we should make sure to hear His voice so we can follow Him. From experience, I can say that just like with most things, if we want to be good at something, we need to practice. If we want to hear God we should maybe start with talking to Him, even ask Him questions, and then keeping quiet for some time. Expect Him to speak to you. We can be sure that what God says will line up with what scripture says. It will never contradict. Also, God’s messages will always give us peace even if He is correcting or disciplining us. There is no condemnation in Him, only love. God is eager to have a close relationship with us and if we just show up each and every day and talk to Him, we will have the fullness of life and blessing He wants for us.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Show Me, Lord

“Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior.” Psalm 25:4-5

Whoever we are, a drug addict, a murderer, a woman who had an abortion, a criminal fleeing from justice, we can pray this prayer and we can depend on a loving God to move in our life. Verse 3 of the same Psalm reads: “No one who hopes in You will ever be put to shame.”

One of my favorite conversion stories that I never get tired of hearing or reading about is that of Brian Welch, better known as “Head”. He was the lead guitarist of the heavy metal band named KoRn that he formed with other guys in 1993. They became super successful with multi-platinum albums, several Grammys, and million dollar deals. He didn’t feel successful though. Instead he felt like the biggest loser because he was struggling with addictions to alcohol and Meth and Xanax. But what he was most afraid of was ruining the life of his perfect “Shirley Temple” daughter with the way he was screwing up his life. 

One day he found himself in church listening to a pastor in jeans. “Christ just wants to live inside of you. God is real. Speak with Him. All the bad stuff will fall away." It was exactly what Brian needed to hear. He got a Bible and started reading while he was high. He pleaded with God to help him, to free him from the pain, the addictions. "Please take these drugs from me!" He had been reading the Bible for a week, when he heard, "I love you." It was so real, it took over the high of the drugs. God convicted him of his sin and in 2 weeks, his addiction to drugs and alcohol was gone.

His band was just about to sign a 23 million dollar contract. Only his signature was needed when he walked out to pray. When he opened his Bible, he read, “Leave everything and follow me.” He told his band he wasn’t going to sign and walked out. That was 2005, and he left the band in obedience to God who was going to take him on a new road.

In 2013, he rejoined KoRn after God called him back. But this time, instead of getting high after a successful concert, Brian goes back stage to speak to people about God's love and forgiveness. He is able to reach people who would almost never listen to preachers and priests. He said in one of his interviews that he was put here on earth to have fellowship with God, to get to know Him. And that's what He strives to do every day. His Facebook page is filled with heavy metal lingo, but there are posts about ex-strippers telling their stories, and comments from fans like, "You guys have been one of the most important bands in my life for the last 20 years. And I shared a hard fought battle to Christ through my college years."

Yes indeed, Brian "Head" Welch, with his numerous tattoos, even one on his knuckles that reads "Jesus", is a new creation! He is an ambassador for Christ where he is. When Brian asked God for help, God showed him the way. 

Monday, March 08, 2021

Wash and Be Cleansed

“Wash and be cleansed’!” 2 Kings 5:13

Naaman was a highly regarded, valiant army commander of the King of Aram, but he was a leper! A little slave girl, captured in a raid of Israel, told the wife of Naaman that the master would be healed if he presented himself to the prophet in Samaria.

So Naaman with a full retinue and presents for the King of Israel went to Elisha. But Elisha did not even meet with him! Elisha just sent a messenger to instruct him that he should wash 7 times in the Jordan. “And your flesh will heal,and you will be clean,” Elisha's messenger told him.

Naaman went off angrily! He had a lot of expectations about what the man of God should do! “I thought he would surely come out and invoke the Lord His God..." It was a good thing that his servants reasoned with him, “If the prophet would have told you to do something extraordinary, wouldn't you have done it?" So Naaman swallowed his pride and did as the prophet told him. And he was healed!!!

Lesson number 1: Even if we are a lowly slave girl, we can be a messenger of hope and healing. Perhaps we are too afraid of our boss to speak to him or her about  something he or she needs to hear? Perhaps we prefer to just be silent even if we know something that would greatly ease another's burden? Let us always speak out with courage words of life and truth. This world filled with despair and darkness needs to hear it. 

Lesson number 2: Obedience may bring us to a closer encounter with God. What is it that God is asking of us? Sometimes when God does not fit into the box we made for Him, like Naaman, we can be so adamant, proud and unwilling to see things from God's point of view!!!  Let us not allow our expectations of how God should act or who God will use to speak to us be a hindrance to what God wants to do for us, and through us!

Sunday, March 07, 2021

The Lord’s Day

“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God.” Exodus 20:8-10

If you've watched Fiddler on the Roof like I have (many times!!!), you've seen how the Jews kept the Sabbath holy as God commanded them to do in the 20th chapter in Exodus. In the movie, we see how the family gathers together and Tevye and Golde lead the prayers. On Saturday evenings, my family and I welcome the Lord’s Day with a special meal and ceremony at home. Then on Sundays, we attend mass, and a prayer meeting virtually.  In the afternoon, it takes a lot of will power for me to follow God’s teaching and not work, but just relax, when it is actually for our own good like all God’s other commands! 

It is important to note that God blessed the 7th day, and declared it holy, sanctified, hallowed. When something is holy, it is set apart, dedicated or consecrated to God. We are NOT the ones to make it holy by our actions. We are supposed to KEEP it holy.

Eric Liddell, a Scottish athlete, immortalized in the film "Chariots of Fire", was determined to keep Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, holy. At the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, he refused to run in his best event, the mens 100 meters, because the heat was held on a Sunday. So he chose to compete in the 400 meters even if after practicing for this for several months prior to the Olympics, his time was not good enough. 

Before he ran the 400 meters, an American Team masseuse ran up to him to give him a piece of paper with a bible verse- "Those who honor me, I will honor. 1 Samuel 2:23.” Eric Liddell won the 400 meters, and broke the world record. Indeed, if we keep the 7th day holy, by resting, refraining from work, going to church and worshiping Him with others as Isaiah 16:23 and Lev. 23:3 proposes, and helping others, God will see that we honor Him and put Him first. And His promise to us if we do this? He will honor us!