Friday, April 30, 2021

In My Father’s House

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” John 14:2

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

The same goes for those who have gone on before us. I like telling the story of God’s faithfulness to me when my mom died. I thought I would be devastated when she left us. We were always together because from the time we went to daily mass at 6 am, then a visit to the Adoration Chapel, then went to the office together, we never ran out of things to talk about. My mom didn’t really want to go to Europe for a month, but she did it for me because she knew it was my dream. When my mom saw me crying because God had asked me to go to QC Jail and I did not want to, she promised to go with me if no one else would accompany me. She was not only my mother, she was my best friend. So when my mom got cancer, and it was getting worse, I knew I would have to let her go and we each had to tell her we would be all right. Never would I have imagined that the day my mother died God would give me the amazing grace of being ecstatic that at last, she would be with our Father who loves her best. 

There is so much heartbreak these days. We have never experienced so many deaths of people we know, people our children know. We can take comfort in Jesus’ reassurances, “Where I am you may also be.” We should always remember the truth that we are all pilgrims on a journey. Earth is merely a way station, a stop over, a terminal. We should not have too much baggage! Jesus did everything here on earth so that one day we can be with Him. Where He is, is the best place to be! But we can always carve out a space and time in the here and now to be with Jesus. Many things can distract us, but there is one certainty we can depend on. We are loved, we are precious, and neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). 

Lord, thank You for showing us the way. Thank You that we have a special place with You! Thank You that one day we will all be together again with the people we love and miss! 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Extraordinary Days

“The favors of the Lord I will sing forever.” 

Psalm 89:2

I particularly like ordinary days. I don’t like excitement, change. I especially don’t like accidents, people getting sick, losing jobs, fires. Of course! Who does?

But I also realize there are no ordinary days. Every day is extraordinarily extraordinary! We are on a journey around the sun, for goodness sake! Every year we go around this huge mass of hot 5778 K swirling plasma! And just like that, my perspective changes. I am surrounded by miracles. Nothing is ordinary! Not the cactus sitting quietly on a pot beside me. Not the skin on my fingers. When I get paint on it, I can easily clean it off. No stains! How do I hold on to this miracle of life? 

Like the psalmist, I should always have gratitude in my heart. I should open my eyes, my heart, my ears to the favors of the Lord. I should not concentrate on what can happen, what gives me stress, negative things people say. The heavens proclaim the wonders of God. I am His creation. So should I! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

God’s Promises

“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” John 12:44-46

This is one of Jesus’ promises. A promise is only as good as the man who gives it. It doesn’t matter if he signs a contract or shakes your hand, if a man has no integrity, the promise is worth nothing. All of Jesus’ promises are as good as gold in heaven’s bank. But like all money or bank certificates, we need to claim it. It’s ours, placed in our name because we are adopted sons and daughters of God, but we need to first, know about it, and then we need to claim it. 

A man who looked like a beggar was found dead on a Central Park Bench in New York City. When someone looked for his identity by searching his pockets, he found several uncashed checks amounting to a lot of money. I do not know if that story is true, but what is true is that there is almost $134 million worth of uncashed checks in the US Social Security Administration and millions and millions of dollars of unclaimed money in banks, life insurance funds, tax refunds, etc. I am sure it is the same in the Philippines. 

There is so much more unclaimed promises in the Bank of Heaven. Imagine how much Jesus’ promises are worth compared to earthly money that is really worth nothing when we die? We work hard for paper money. How much effort do we put in getting to know the Promise-Keeper and His promises to us? 

Lord, I want to get to know You more each day. I want to see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly and follow Thee more nearly, day by day, as it goes in a well known song. Teach me Your ways O Lord and do not allow me to stray far away from You. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Faith Matters

“... and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26

This is not the first time humanity has been in a dire situation for there have been many plagues and epidemics that have ravaged us throughout history. The Antonine plague in A.D. 165-180 may have killed over 5 million people in the Roman Empire and decimated their army. In A.D. 541-542, the bubonic plague killed almost 10% of the world’s population and marked the start of the decline of the Byzantine empire. Then there is the infamous Black Death in 1346-1353, seven years of devastation that changed the course of European history. Bodies were buried in mass graves. An estimated 500 million  people died from the Spanish Flu from 1918-1920. Some communities almost became extinct. And the list goes on. 

But wherever there is pain and trials, there the Christians go bravely. In one French account of a plague, it is written, “The nuns in one hospital, having no fear of death, tended the sick with sweetness and humility. New nuns replaced those who had died, until most had died. Many times renewed by death, they now rest In peace with Christ.” This selfless nursing tradition developed in the early years of Christianity. In his book, “The Triumph of Christianity”, sociologist and historian Rodney Stark makes the powerful case that the main reason why Christianity flourished while Roman paganism dwindled in the 1st to 4th centuries was because of the care Christians gave toward those who were sick and suffering. While well known Roman healers like the classical physician Galen fled the city of Rome for their country estates, benevolent Christians stayed and ministered to the sick and dying. 

Rodney Shark wrote, “What went on during the epidemics was only an intensification of what went on every day among Christians… Indeed, the impact of Christian mercy was so evident that in the fourth century when the emperor Julian attempted to restore paganism, he exhorted the pagan priesthood to compete with the Christian charities. In a letter to the high priest of Galatia, Julian urged the distribution of grain and wine to the poor, noting that “the impious Galileans [Christians], in addition to their own, support ours, [and] it is shameful that our poor should be wanting our aid.” But there was little or no response to Julian’s proposals because there were no doctrines and no traditional practices for the pagan priest to build upon…. Christians believed in life everlasting. At most, pagans believed in an unattractive existence in the underworld. Thus, for Galen to have remained in Rome to treat the afflicted during the first great plague would have required far greater bravery than was needed by Christian deacons and presbyters to do so. Faith mattered.”

Yes, faith matters, today more than ever. As Christians we are called to be loving, generous and merciful, like Christ. Many of our brothers and sisters are risking their lives every day serving in the front lines of this devastating pandemic. We ourselves may not be called to go out and tend the sick, but we can surely pray in faith, encourage one another, and give generously, as much as we are able, to those in need. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Follow Jesus!

“...the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” John 10:4-5

On the 4th Sunday of Easter, yesterday,  the Catholic Church celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we are His sheep. Although a lamb is lovable and cuddly, it is not exactly a compliment to be compared to sheep! Sheep are quite dumb, short sighted, stubborn, and defenseless. They gather in groups and really need someone to guide them because they can't take care of themselves. They move all together in a herd. In 2006, 400 sheep fell into a 15 meter deep ravine and died because of this instinct.

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

Sheep who know a good master's voice and follows him will be taken care of. But sheep who follow the wrong voice can end up in deep deep trouble! Let us learn how to follow Jesus’ teaching so we don’t take a wrong turn and get lost! 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Good Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd...and I will lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15

Do we know our good shepherd? Do we know how much He loves us personally, intimately, uniquely, lavishly? He gave His life for us because of that crazy love! We should spend our life getting to know Him instead of running away from what we think He is. 

Shepherds work hard to take care of their sheep. It is no easy task. They stay outdoors with their flock day and night. During the day, they walk the sheep so they can graze on green pastures. At night they guard the open sheep folds or take them to the shelter of a cave to keep the sheep safe from hyenas and other predators. They count the sheep and make sure they are healthy. They lead them to refreshing pools of water to quench their thirst and draw water for them from a well if there was no water to drink. 

If a sheep was rebellious, and strayed from the flock, the sheep could get mauled by a jackal. Sometimes we desire freedom, and prefer to do life our way, going after what we perceive as good. It was the same for Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis. God provided a beautiful garden for them to live in. He only had ONE rule, DO NOT eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:16-17) Out of all the trees in the garden, Eve set her lustful eyes on the fruit of that ONE tree after the serpent enticed her. The serpent continues enticing each and every sheep of the good Shepherd. And we keep listening and going astray.

Until we discover how we are much better off with the good Shepherd who loves us and cares for us and wants the best for us. We realize He has been looking for us all along, every time we strayed. He wants us back. He never gives up on us. He gave His life for us. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021


“How shall I make a return to the Lord ​for all the good he has done for me?” Psalm 116:12

Nobody loves us as much as God does. He loved us first, and He loves us best, and He will love us forever. Indeed our whole life is a testament to God's unfailing goodness and love. He surrounded us with people to love, support and encourage us to be the best we can be. He put us in a place where we can use our gifts and talents. He answers our prayers and speaks to us when we need His help, and even when we feel we don't. He forgives us seventy times seven and assures us that nothing shall ever separate us from His love. 

In 1 Corinthians 3:9, St. Paul writes: "We are God's garden, His field..." Can we picture God as our gardener, making sure we are blooming and fragrant? He watches out for little pests that can make some of the plants wither, or even destroy the root systems. He also prunes and cuts away dead leaves.

We don’t even realize that we carry around something dead with us every day. It's smelly and ugly, but we can't shake it off. It's our sin nature. It's the one that wants our own way. It's selfish, it's cranky, it's indulgent. But it's dead, because in baptism, Jesus pruned it away! We are dead to sin, but alive in Christ (Romans 6, Col. 2:13). Yes, God never gives up on us. Each one of us is His own unique masterpiece and He is constantly working on us. How do we repay Him for His goodness and faithfulness?

The psalmist in Psalm 116 asks this same question and answers it well: “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” (v.13)


We can and we certainly should “toast” the graciousness of the Lord, and proclaim His faithfulness. It is the custom of the Jews to drink a cup of blessing and thanksgiving during festivals as a special expression of thanksgiving. “Blessed be the Lord, the maker of the world, who has created the fruit of the vine!” they exclaim exuberantly. When we “call upon the name of the Lord”, we proclaim what the Lord has done. Isn’t this evangelization, preaching the good news? We who have experienced God’s many gifts should also announce or preach the gospel in every way we can, to repay Him.


If we continue reading Psalm 116, we will see another way to offer the Lord our thanks. “I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (v.14) We can keep our promises as His people to live the way of life He has taught us.


Lord, may we always be grateful to You, knowing we owe You everything. Everything we have is Yours. May we live our life fully committed to You and to the way of life You have called us to.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Saul! Saul!

 "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?" 

Acts 9:4

Saul was traveling to Damascus on a mission to arrest and drag to Jerusalem anyone following the 'new way'. In Acts 9:1, he is described as 'breathing murderous threats' against Jesus' disciples. He was stopped by a light in the sky, and a voice asking,"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"

In Damascus today, Christians are being persecuted by modern day Sauls who want to exterminate them. Christians have lived in Damascus for more than 2000 years but now they are being driven away from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of Christians in Syria are being kidnapped, tortured, and even crucified and beheaded. There are still a few Christians who speak Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Their churches, St. Elias Church and St. Grace Church in the Christian village of Maaloula near Damascus are under attack. The congregations have found themselves caught in the middle of warring factions and rebels have fallen into Islamic terrorism. 

There is not much we can do. But I know prayer changes more things than this world thinks it can. Let us pray that these modern day Sauls get converted if not by a light from the sky and a voice from heaven, then by other miracles. Nothing is impossible with God! And He is so creative! I believe that even now, saints are arising in the persecuted areas of the world! Let us cover those areas with prayer and fasting! Let us combat the jihad against Christians with an army of interceding warriors!

And then we should think also of the times we were Saul to the beggar on the street, the helper who does not get a day off, the Grab driver we scolded for not taking care of our delivery. These days there are so many opportunities NOT to be Saul and to help the many who are in need and who are hungry. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

New Every Morning

“Do you really grasp what you are reading?” The Ethiopian eunuch replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” Acts 8:30-31

Sometimes people tell me they can’t understand the Bible even if they try. There is no shame in admitting that. If we really desire to know God and His word, God will send someone to teach us, just like the Ethiopian eunuch in the 8th chapter of Acts. An angel instructed Philip to “Head south on the road Gaza, the desert route.” There Philip met the unnamed eunuch who was reading scripture from the prophet Isaiah. Philip, one of the seven chosen in Acts 6 to care for the poor in the fledgling Church in Jerusalem, helped the eunuch understand. The man was led to Christ and baptized. 

We may be the eunuch who does not understand, or Philip, sent by God to explain to someone who does not understand. Usually we are both. I may seem like I know a lot about the Bible but nothing could be farther from the truth. Every day, when I sit at the feet of Jesus I am surprised at what He shows me. I start out by reading the daily Scripture and Anawim meditation. I expect Him to speak to me. When I start writing, my mind is blank, but I expect the Lord to meet me and like Philip, He does. We just have to wait and not give up. I have waited for the Lord every morning since I was quite young. After more than 40 years, there is always something new for me every morning.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

There are many things in the Bible that puzzle me, but I know that the Holy Spirit guides us to all truth. If today I do not understand, one day, that particular baffling passage will yield its treasure. In God’s time. 

Today, there are so many resources available to us. I like to listen in on the conversion stories on YouTube. I like to ponder on what teachers and preachers like Steve Ray, Brant Pitre, Scott Hahn and so many others, discover. Like the eunuch, we can see clearly that Jesus was already foretold in the Old Testament, that the Eucharist has its roots in Jewish traditions, that all the old covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David find their fulfilment in the new covenant of Jesus Christ. 

So many exciting conversations to listen in on. We just need to find the time and God will use that to enliven the flame and bring us back to our first love for Him. It is truly an exciting time we are living in! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Shout Joyfully to God!

“Shout joyfully to God, all the earth, ​sing praise to the glory of his name; ​proclaim his glorious praise.” Psalm 66:1-2

Some days it is very hard going to praise the Lord. There is so much heartbreaking news and an unending list of people to pray for. A mother died in the hospital tent gasping for breath in front of her daughter. A very young child in mental anguish. Caregivers trying to commit suicide in the ER. Just the other day we were praying for a brother in Christ to be able to get a room in a hospital. Then when a room was available, we prayed for an ambulance and of course, all the while we were praying for healing.  Only to be told he passed away. I cannot imagine what his wife and family are going through. 

But beyond the veil, I know there is much rejoicing. He has run the race, fixing his eyes on Jesus. He can claim with Saint Paul that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). He has graduated with honors. He will receive his reward in heaven for all his selfless work for our community and for the many underprivileged people he loved to serve. That is something we can celebrate and thank God for! Eternity awaits us when we follow Jesus, the One who loved us enough to die for us, so that we might live forever! Hallelujah! Praise His mighty name! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Supersubstantial Bread

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger...” John 6:35

True stories abound of very rich people, celebrities even, who earned hundreds of millions of dollars, and ended up scrounging in garbage bins and living out of cardboard boxes or cars. There are also people who won millions in the lotto, who thought all their problems would be solved but who became even more enmeshed in more problems and disasters. No matter how rich or privileged a person is, he can never guarantee that he will never go hungry. 

There is only one Person who can give us the guarantee that we will never go hungry if we stay by His side. Jesus. He said, “Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him, the Father, God, has set His seal.” (John 6:27)

During Biblical times, seals were often made of wax, embedded with the personal imprint of the one who makes the guarantee of authenticity. Here Jesus assures us that it is God the Father Himself who guarantees Jesus as the Bread of Life. Whoever depends on Him, who accepts Him as Lord, will never hunger. 

When we pray the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3, we say, “Give us this day our DAILY bread”. But most Christian scholars today reject this translation of word “epiousios” in the original Greek New Testament. These scholars as well as Saint Jerome back in AD 382, translate it not as “daily” but as “SUPERSUBSTANTIAL”. Jesus instructed us to ask for supersubstantial bread. That is why we will never hunger, never perish, never die. 

Like the apostles let us pray, “Jesus, give us this supersubstantial bread always! You are the bread of life. I believe in You! I trust in You!”

Monday, April 19, 2021

I Have Chosen the Way of Faithfulness

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.” Psalm 119:30-31

It is good to read how ordinary men and women choose to live faithfully. As Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Gladys Aylward was one such woman. She became a Christian at a young age all because she could not extricate herself from a crowd. She was so small that she got pushed and found herself inside a church and was too embarrassed to leave. So she stayed to listen to the Pastor. She became convicted after that experience and tried to get nuns, teachers, anybody to go to China and become a missionary and spread the gospel there. No one listened to her. When she tried to convince her brother, he said in disgust, “Why don’t you go yourself?”

She finally set her heart on going, first by studying in Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission. She was rejected after a while because she couldn’t seem to get the hang of learning Chinese. She decided to just go out on her own by saving money to take the Trans-Siberian Express across Europe to China. She worked as a parlor maid and read her master’s books about China. She tried all sorts of ways to increase her savings even to selling her nice shoes and buying second hand shoes which were both for the left foot! 

Eventually she set off on what turned out to be a perilous journey across Siberia only to find herself being caught up in a war between Russia and China. After surviving all sorts of challenges she arrived at her destination and met up with an older missionary named Jeannie Lawson. They set up The Inn of Eight Happinesses based on the eight virtues of Love, Virtue, Gentleness, Tolerance, Loyalty, Truth, Beauty and Devotion. Not only did they make a comfortable place for travelers, but they shared stories of Jesus. Gladys was also able to spread the good news when she became a “foot inspector” and travelled all over China to help enforce the new law against foot binding young Chinese girls. Of course at this time she was already fluent in Chinese, confounding the verdict of her teachers in the missionary school.

One time she managed to intervene in a volatile prison uprising, resulting in the improvement of the conditions in which the inmates lived. She also found herself in charge of about a hundred orphans during the war. After 27 days of trekking, she had led them over the mountains to the safety of an orphanage beyond the war zone. She collapsed of typhus and malnutrition upon arrival. All these efforts earned her the affectionate nickname  ‘Ai-weh-deh’ which means ‘Virtuous One’.

There are many more things this ordinary woman was able to do because she loved Jesus and wanted to obey Him faithfully. Her story was told in the book “The Small Woman” by Alan Burgess published in 1957, and adapted into a wildly inaccurate film, “The Inn of Sixth Happiness”, starring the tall Ingrid Bergman in 1958. 

Gladys always said, “I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China… [but] God looked down… and saw Gladys Aylward… and God said – ‘Well, she’s willing’.” Gladys Aylward chose the way of faithfulness. Have we? 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Totaliter Aliter

“Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” Luke 24:39

I have never seen a ghost and cannot imagine why any soul having been to heaven would ever want to come back to earth. Here is a funny story from Fr. Rainero Cantalamessa, who has served as the Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980, under Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. 

“Two German monks enjoyed a great friendship over their years in the monastery. Their favorite topic of conversation was heaven. One, a gardener, believed that the most beautiful flowers would constantly bloom. The other, the organist, thought that heaven would be filled with the most beautiful melodies. They decided that the first to die would return a year after his death and tell the other what heaven was really like with a single word. If it was as he imagined he would say taliter (“exactly”); if it was as the other thought, he would say aliter (“the other one”).

The organist died suddenly, and his friend sent many prayers to heaven in the year that followed. On his death anniversary, he appeared to the gardener in his cell. “Taliter?” the gardener asked. After a moment of silence, he tried the other response. “Aliter?”

The organist breathed forth two words: “Totaliter Aliter! (Totally Other!)”

Indeed, I do not think we can ever come up with what the after life is like. Not even close. It is so totally beyond what we can imagine. And no one can ever describe it to us except Jesus but He didn’t, except to say, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26) The amazing thing about Christianity is we believe in a God who deigned to come down to earth to join us in this difficult human journey. He suffered immensely and His suffering was prophesied in several portions of the Bible. 

Jesus opened the minds of His disciples to understand the scriptures after He proved He was no ghost, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48) We who believe in Christ are so privileged that God left us “love letters” to explain His plan and the wonderful place we have in it. We cannot keep this to ourselves, but should as He asks, preach it to the whole world! 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Stand for Truth

 "Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power..." Acts 6:8

Saint Stephen was the first martyr of the Catholic faith. His story is short but very dramatic. When the Church was growing, there were some complaints that some widows were not getting their share of food. It was decided that the disciples would preach the Word, and seven men would be chosen to take care of food distribution. One of these men was Stephen. In Acts 6:8, Stephen is said to have performed "amazing miracles and signs". You would think more would have been written about this, but it is just one line, as if this was quite ordinary among the disciples of Jesus.

 Apparently Stephen did not merely distribute bread to the members of the Church, or he would not have gotten himself into a whole lot of trouble. Jews from all over would debate with him, and he would be able to defend the faith with wisdom. Some men lied about what he said, and he was brought before the Sanhedrin. In John chapter 6, Jesus told the crowds to "NOT work for perishable food but for food that will last unto eternal life." Stephen made sure to follow what Jesus said. Even before the Sanhedrin, he spoke with conviction, filled with the Holy Spirit, about God's plan through the ages. This infuriated the Jewish leaders and they dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him. 

This does not happen today. But are we brave enough to stand up for truth, even if we will get stoned with criticism or censure? Are we willing to spread God's Word in a skeptical world, in the middle of a group of friends who would ridicule us, perhaps?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Impossible Math

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish...” John 6:9

This gospel story reminds me of an interview of Dallas Jenkins, the director of the multi-season series “The Chosen”. In 2017, Dallas made a film “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone”. It bombed. Dallas and his wife were devastated and at their lowest point. In prayer, his wife seemed to get two messages, the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and “I do impossible math”. They couldn’t figure out what it meant. 

That night, Dallas stayed up to write a ten page memo of what they did wrong and what they could have done instead. At 2 am, a message popped up on his screen: “Remember your job is not to feed the 5000 it’s only to provide the loaves of bread and fish.” The message shocked Dallas and he asked the sender why he sent it. “I don’t know. God just told me to send you that!” 

Dallas says his life can be divided by before that moment and after that moment because it was so pivotal for him. He realized it was not his job to produce the results, just to provide the bread! He then had the opportunity to direct a short film for his church after that called The Shepherd which was about the birth of Christ but told through the eyes of shepherds. 

After the success of The Shepherd, he and his partner Derral Eves used the film to raise money for the series, “The Chosen” through crowd funding. They were able to raise a total of more than $10 million from 19,000 people! It was enough to make the first season of the series. Dallas and his wife realized what God meant when He said, “I do impossible math.” 

God can do impossible math in our life as well if we give Him our loaves and fishes. What are our gifts and talents? What are the resources we have in our hands? Give it to God for Him to multiply! 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Spirit has no Limit!

“He does not ration His gift of the Spirit.” 

John 3:34

In my other Bible, it says, “for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit”. There are many amazing, extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, but just like any gift, we have to receive it, open it, use it, or else it will sit there gathering dust. The “charismatic gifts” are all wonderful, and I believe if we want it, we only have to ask and then to practice it. There is the word of wisdom, word of knowledge, increased faith, gift of healing and miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

When I was young, I attended so many Life in the Spirit Seminars, and so many brothers and sisters laid their hands on me to baptize me in the Spirit, but I did not receive the gift of tongues. Well the ones who prayed over me said I already had it but it did not manifest itself  because I was too curious about all the crying and noise happening around me. One day I was determined to get the gift of tongues and started jabbering my mouth off in the morning. In the car on the way to work, I was still mouthing nonsense. My mom pitied me and said, “Patsy, you stop already.” I didn’t. The whole day I persisted with my mission. When I finally reached home after work, I locked my bedroom door, sat in my rocking chair, and was more determined not to stop until I received this gift from God. 

Suddenly, something was different. It was like a fountain came from inside, and the syllables I was uttering were not my own. I was filled with an indescribable joy and I knew that what was coming out of my mouth were words of praise. I asked God to make it English so I could understand, and He answered my prayer for a short while, then I continued to mouth a foreign tongue for a long time. It really was like I was drunk with heavenly wine, and I will never forget the experience. My sister who was listening outside my door, ran to her room and started spouting nonsense sounds. When she felt a force inside her wanting to gush forth, she got frightened, clamped two hands over her mouth and ran outside the room. The Spirit has no limit! 

Now I want the gift of healing, and I try to remember to pray over sick people even if I am shy or even lack faith. It is difficult to lay hands now as we are so far away from the sick so I just pray for people from where I am. One day, like the gift of tongues, I will have this gift if I am persistent and just have faith. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Crazy Awesome Love!

For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

There is so much skepticism in the world. It’s cooler to be a skeptic than to feed our faith. Or perhaps we want to be practical, and really hope and faith are not practical. We can’t touch it or see it. We think we can’t apply reason or critical thinking when it comes to Jesus, if He really can give us enough bread, if He really can guide us, if we really can depend on Him. The list goes on. 

My starting point is always, is He who He claims to be? If He is God, then we should take Him and His words seriously. If He is God and He is not flicking His finger to solve poverty and the huge problems of the world, God does not have to explain to us why He allows it all to continue. If He is God, He has His own reasons! 

God’s ways are far above our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. It is so strange that He chose to come as a baby, a weak human being, dependent on His mother. He was born of the lineage of David, and in Bethlehem. All this was foretold by the prophets Micah and Isaiah. In the Old Testament God gave various signs to watch out for so we could recognize the Messiah when He comes. And some of those prophecies were about how the Messiah would be betrayed and put on trial, beaten and mocked. There are about 300 prophecies in the Old Testament unveiled in the New. 

A mathematician said that the chance of one person fulfilling only 8 of those 300 prophecies is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. 1 person fulfilling 48 prophecies: 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power. Only God could have divinely orchestrated when He would be born, and the events afterwards. One may wonder: WHY? 

LOVE. God SO loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him may not perish but HAVE everlasting life. Let us believe in Him, and His Words, so that one day we will be with Him in the fullness of His crazy awesome plan for us! 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Earthly Treasure

“If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” John 3:12

Everyone loves a good deal, a good investment, don’t we? And we hate it when we lose money! The stock market here in the Philippines can be quite erratic. When I thought a particular stock was on its way down, I sold a major chunk of it. Within the next few minutes it went up. Then it went way over the amount I sold it! I felt sad because I liked that particular stock. Now I don’t bother to look at my portfolio because all the stocks probably lost so much value! 

In the 6th chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives us His financial advice, His divine blueprint for estate planning. "Do not lay up for yourselves earthly treasure." Earthly treasure is not going to last, it can be stolen, burned, it can rust and devalue. Instead we should make it our practice to to store up heavenly treasure. We can think of storing heavenly treasure as buying stocks in heaven. The difference is it's not going to devaluate, the price won't go down! Whatever we invest is going to go up, up, up! But how can we buy Kingdom stocks? What is of value in heaven?

Jesus told the story of the pearl of great price in Matthew 13. When a merchant found the pearl more beautiful than all the others, he sold all his possessions to buy it. What is it that Jesus was willing to give up everything for? Jesus bought us, the pearl of great price at the cost of His very life! He became a man, left His power and glory in heaven, just so He can give us His greatest gift, eternal life in Heaven with Him.

Saint Lawrence is one of my favorite saints. When asked by the Prefect of Rome to turn over the treasures of the Church, Lawrence went throughout the city and gathered together the poor, the lame, the blind, the sick. Then he presented them to the greedy Prefect. "Here are the Church's treasure!" he announced. The Prefect was not amused and the saint was roasted over an iron grill!

We need not follow Saint Lawrence to buy stocks in heaven, but we should remember that if we use our time, talent and money to bring people to God, we are investing in what God values most!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Born Again

"...unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3

Born from above. Born again. Begotten from above. What did Jesus mean? Jesus told this to Nicodemus, when he visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus was a Pharisee like Paul, and he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews. This means he was learned and with much influence. It is curious that he comes to question Jesus at night. Perhaps he doesn't want to be seen, or perhaps he just wants to get answers. He says he believes Jesus is a teacher from God. Most people then and now believe that of Jesus but Nicodemus got more than he bargained for from Jesus. He found out that we have to be born again before we can see God's Kingdom. 

In Luke 17:21, Jesus is asked by some Pharisees when the Kingdom of God was to come. Jesus' answer then and now is, "The Kingdom of God is among you. It is in your midst." Right now, I am here in my bedroom. God's Kingdom is here. You are perhaps at your desk, in your garden, in your office, in your kitchen. God's Kingdom is there as well. To see it, to experience it, we need to be born again, to be born anew with a new way of thinking and seeing. We know we are born anew when Jesus’ teachings come alive for us, and we know Him as our brother, friend and Savior. When I was new in the renewal, recently baptized in the Spirit, the words of the Bible seemed to jump out of the page, and I wanted to underline everything. I would read up to late at night, wanting to devour the Word and learn as much as I can. That will be impossible without the Holy Spirit. The third Person of the Trinity is our partner in our spiritual rebirth. 

If we spend time to listen, we will hear Him speak: “Fill every corner of your life with holy things, holy prayer. Be in my presence always, and you will see my Kingdom dwelling alongside this earth full of sorrow and pain. It is possible to see it. See through my eyes. See through the eyes of prayer, of connection with Me. Do not sever your connection with Me.”

Come Holy Spirit! I want to see and experience Your Kingdom here on earth! 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

I Believe!

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene when she delivered the news that Jesus was alive. Neither did they believe Cleopas and his companion when they reported seeing Jesus on the way to Emmaus.

Jesus then appeared to them and rebuked them for their disbelief- “their stubborn refusal to believe". Do you think Jesus was frustrated with the disciples? Disappointed? Was He thinking they are hopeless? He can't depend on them? That they can't be trusted with the mission He wants to give them?

On the contrary, right after rebuking them in Mark 16:14, He said, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to everyone, everywhere." I can imagine Jesus being frustrated with a lot of us! We are being given so much! We are entrusted with so much treasure in His Word. What do we do with it? But then I know, because I see it in my own life, that no matter how much I fail, Jesus never gives up on me. He still gives and gives and gives! Every day, He opens up His treasure chest. And every day, I just want to shout, "Yes, God is good!"

In John 20:29, Jesus urges us to make a leap of faith. "Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed."  There are times I think, "Why do I believe?" Maybe the Bible stories are a myth like the story of Gilgamesh we read in High School! But legends and myths do not make missionaries and martyrs out of inexperienced, untrained fishermen and a tax collector. 

To a non-believer, the Bible can be a bunch of made up, absurd stories! I decided a long time ago that yes, Jesus, You are God, and I will follow You.  Because of that leap of faith, I have been blessed. Now I know without a shadow of a doubt, like Thomas, like the other disciples, like Paul who tried to destroy the followers of Jesus, that He is alive, He is God, and He holds the key.  

Saturday, April 10, 2021


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 09, 2021

It is the Lord!

“It is the Lord.” John 21:7

How do we recognize the Lord’s work in our lives? With Peter and the other disciples, it was only when they obeyed Jesus’ words to cast their net over the right side of the boat, and they caught much fish, that their eyes opened. 

If we want God to work in our life, we should also obey His words. The promises in the Bible are like seeds that we plant in our lives, and we can wait for it to bear fruit. If for example, we are anxious about the future which is so terribly uncertain, and we can’t wait for this lockdown to be over so we can get back to our normal way of life, we can search the scriptures for what God has to say. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” That’s what St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans (8:28). He also says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) If we repeat these Words, confessing them, believing them, and rejecting other negative thoughts that we have, it will transform the way we think, and God will transform our life. 

There is a battle we are fighting all the time, and the battlefield is our mind. If we can take control of our thoughts, by refusing to think self-defeating, negative, cynical, pessimistic, or gloomy notions, we can change our life. My sister and some other brothers and sisters in our community used to tutor kids in the slum area. One of the things that they had to do, was change the children’s perceptions of themselves. They could not excel because they did not believe in themselves. They thought they were dumb and worthless. Where did they get these ideas? Unfortunately, it was drummed into them by their parents who just got it from their parents who used to say the same things to them. “Wala kang kuwenta!” “Wala kang alam!” “Wala kang patutunguhan!” (You’re not worth anything! You don’t know anything! You won’t get anywhere!”) 

We are all unique, special individuals with our own talents and gifts. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart...” (Jeremiah 1:5) Our God loves each of us, we are each the apple of His eye before we were even born! If we just know how much God loves and values us, we will be more confident about facing the future. Let us strive to see ourselves the way God sees us. When Jesus saw Peter, He did not see an uneducated, uncouth, lowly fisherman, He saw a man that could change the world! How does He see us? Let us catch His vision, His plan for us, and then we will be able to say with excitement, “It is the Lord’s work in my life!”

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Touch Me and See!

“Touch me, and see...” Luke 24:39

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

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

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

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