Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Believe and Receive

“…for the son of the slave woman, I will make a great nation of him also, since he too is your offspring.” Genesis 21:13

There are many treasures in the Bible, and many keys to unlock those treasures. God promised to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants from both Isaac and Ishmael, the son of the slave Hagar. According to verse 13 of Romans chapter 4, it’s not based on obedience to the law but through the righteousness of faith. “For the promise to Abraham, and to his posterity, that he would inherit the world, was not through the law, but through the justice of faith.”

Abraham is our example as a believer, and Abraham is still alive today in the more than 3 billion people, Christians, Muslims and Jews, who venerate him. He is our spiritual father, our patriarch. Studying Abraham and his relationship with God can help us in our journey of faith. “Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you,” we read in the book of James 4:8.

In verse 16-17 of the 4th chapter of Romans, Saint Paul writes that faith is the key! God’s promise is given to us as a free gift if we have faith like our father Abraham. Abraham believed in a God who brings the dead to life, and who calls into being what does not exist. That is the secret to faith. If God says it, we believe it and we can receive it.  The key is finding a verse in the Bible we can claim, believe and receive. We, like Abraham, should be absolutely convinced that God is able to do anything He promised! (v. 21)

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

I Kept the Faith

“I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me…” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

When we read this verse written by St. Paul, we can also remember Eric Liddell, the Scottish Olympic gold medallist winner. He is also the main character in the 1981 Oscar winning film, Chariots of Fire. 

During the Olympics, Eric, a devout Christian, refused to run for the hundred meter dash because it was held on a Sunday even if it was his best event. Instead he ran the 400 meter and won a gold medal. Eric Liddell said that he did his best in running the first half of the race, and then depended on God for the second half. In spite of an amazing career as a runner, Eric Liddel chose to leave all the fame and glory and go to China as a missionary like his father before him. He believed that is what God called him to do. When asked if he regretted his decision, he answered, “It's natural for a chap to think over all that sometimes, but I'm glad I'm at the work I'm engaged in now. A fellow's life counts for far more at this than the other.”

When he got to China, he became a teacher at an Anglo-Chinese college for privileged Chinese students. He was also in charge of Sunday school. In 1941 when the foreigners in China were advised to leave because of the danger from the Japanese invaders, Eric opted to stay behind while his wife and daughters went back home to Canada. Eric served the poor in a rural mission station in Xiaozhang, where he was always overworked and exhausted by the stream of Chinese needing medical treatment. 

In 1943, he was imprisoned in the Weihsien Interment Camp. While there, for two years until his death, he served others unselfishly, helping the elderly, leading bible study. One man who was interned with him wrote a book about his experience and mentioned that Eric Liddel was "the finest Christian gentleman it has been my pleasure to meet.” 

Another survivor of the camp, Langdon Gilkey, said of Eric: “He was overflowing with good humor and love for life, and with enthusiasm and charm. It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known."

Wherever we are Lord, whatever our station in life or our job, may we serve You in whatever way we can, and be a light in the darkness. May we finish the race with honor and keep the faith. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Follow Me

“Follow me..” Matthew 8:22

Jesus was emphasizing that we should know our priorities, our purpose, our mission. Then and only then will our schedules, our plans, our responsibilities fall into the right places.

“Follow me," Jesus said to Levi the tax collector in Luke 5:27. He was sitting at the customs post, where he usually sits. He collects taxes, and like most publicans, perhaps even all, he was reviled by the Jews for his collaboration with the Roman oppressors. A tax collector during Jesus' time could stop Jews on the road and tax them for the baggage they were carrying! Jesus calls out, "Follow me," and Levi left all the money bags on the table, and walked with Jesus.

Like Levi, Jesus calls us where we are, whatever we are doing. We may not be occupied with sinful things like Levi, who would have been greedy and kept part of the collected taxes for himself. But even while we are washing dishes, teaching, playing golf, looking though friends' posts on Facebook, Jesus calls us. When He calls, and we decide to follow, we have to leave certain things behind. We have to avoid sin. If we knew what sin does to us spiritually, we would stay far away from it just as we stay away from the Ebola virus. The Ebola virus is scarier than Covid. It makes people bleed internally and externally, and it kills up to 90% of those infected.

How about sin? We can't see what it does to our soul, and our soul is the one that lasts forever. Our bodies will just be consigned to the crematorium or left in a hole in the ground. I am sure that sin does worse things to our souls than the Ebola virus!! If we are able to stay away from sin, we can celebrate and Jesus will celebrate with us, much like Levi rejoiced in his new found freedom!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

If You Have Faith

“Daughter, your faith has made you well.” 

Mark 5:34

In the 5th chapter of Mark, there are two very powerful stories about faith and healing. Jairus, a synagogue official, approached Jesus because his daughter was on the point of death. Then there is an unnamed woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She managed to get close enough to touch Jesus’ clothes and her flow of blood dried up. “Daughter, your faith has saved you,” Jesus told the woman. 

When people from Jairus’ home arrived to tell him that his daughter died, Jesus told Jairus, “Do not be afraid, just have faith”. They continued on their journey, and Jesus did not allow the crowd to accompany Him inside the house, except for Peter, James and John. He told everyone in the house who ridiculed Him to leave. Then He brought Peter, James, John, Jairus and the mother into the sick child’s room. “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” He commanded, holding her by the hand. The 12-year old stood up immediately and walked around. 

I believe faith is like a muscle. We need to practice it all the time, use it, by praying at all times, and confessing the Word of God. We need to claim God’s promises, searching the Bible for this treasure God left us, so our faith will grow. But as the story of Jairus shows, we also need to surround ourselves with people of faith. Even Jesus could not work miracles in His hometown because people there scoffed and did not have faith. Faith is an amazing gift that God wants to give each one of us. We just need to walk closely with Jesus, read His Word, give it a chance to come alive in our life. 

When I was praying about this, I felt God assuring me, “If you have faith, you will not be afraid of the future, of the past, of people who have the power to harm you. You need not fear for your family, your business. If you have faith, you will know that all is in My hands. If you follow Me, listen to Me, even when you make mistakes, I can turn it into good. Trust in Me, live in My Word, and dwell in my peace.”

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Is Anything Too Marvelous?

“Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?” Genesis 18:14

Is there anything too difficult for the Lord? Sometimes when we face a challenge, we think we have to find the solution ourselves. We turn to the Lord as a last resort.

There was an American marine who got separated from his squad while they were reconnoitering on a Pacific island during World War II. When he heard the enemy soldiers approaching, he clambered over to where he saw several small caves and crawled inside one. As he crouched in the dark, he prayed, “ Lord, if it is Your will, please protect me. Whatever Your will, I love and trust You. Amen.”

He could hear the enemy getting closer and he began to get discouraged. Surely he thought he would be found soon. Meanwhile a spider began to build a web over the front of the cave he was hiding in. As the spider layered the strands, the soldier thought that he needed a brick wall, but God sent a spider! What a sense of humor God has, he brooded desperately!

The enemy soldiers searched each cave methodically, but when they came to the opening of his cave, they just moved on. He realized that the spider web covering the entrance made it appear as if no one had entered the cave in a long time. “Lord, forgive me,” repented the marine. “I had forgotten that in Your hands, a spider web can be stronger than a brick wall!”

We must never lose hope for nothing is impossible with God! In Romans 10:11, St. Paul writes that we will never be disappointed if we put our trust in the Lord. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

God Will Come Through

“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Matthew 8:2

Sometimes during great and terrible trials it can seem as if God is hiding His face, indifferent to our pain. The Gospel reading today is about a leper who approached Jesus, pleading, “If you do wish, you can make me clean." And Jesus moved with pity, touched him and said, “I do will it. Be made clean." Is Jesus not the same yesterday, today and forever? 

Yes He is! Today, just because it seems He is not answering my prayers quickly for healing my lungs, He is no different. I trust Him. I am also praying for an end to this pandemic, and for our economy to improve. I am praying for a long list of people who are sick, and people who need livelihood. It is taking too long, Lord! How are all these people coping? Some cannot even pay their rent or electric bills. 

We need to build up our faith all the time so that we can be strong when trials come. In 1855, some builders wanted to hang a suspension bridge over Niagara Falls but they could not figure out how to get the heavy cables across. Finally, Theodore G. Hulett said they would hold a kite flying competition. Whoever could send a kite across the 800 ft. wide river would win $5.00, a princely sum. 16-year-old Homan Walsh beat several other contenders. His kite string was tied across the gap, and was used as a pilot line to pull a stronger rope across from Canada. Several exchanges later, and a cable was finally brought across which became the foundation for the first ever suspension bridge. 

Our faith is like that, it starts out very weak and feeble. Over time, reading the Bible and feeding on God’s word daily, trusting Him, our faith gets built up. We know God will come through for us in His perfect time!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

 "I wonder what this child will turn out to be?" Luke 1:66

Today we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist. He was born amidst amazing circumstances. His parents Zechariah and Elizabeth were very old, and they had no children because Elizabeth was barren.  One day, Zechariah, a Jewish priest was on duty inside the sanctuary in the Temple, burning incense.  An angel appeared, and Zechariah was overwhelmed with fear. Who wouldn't be? But the angel told him not to be afraid. "God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth will bear you a son!"  Angel Gabriel then proceeded to list the awesome qualities of his son, and instructed him to name him John. "He will be great in the sight of God."

"How can this be?" Zechariah asked incredulously, "We are both so old!"  The angel reprimanded him saying, "God was the one who instructed me to tell you this.  Since you did not believe, you won't be able to speak until the child is born."  True enough, Elizabeth became pregnant, and she gave birth to a baby boy. When Zechariah wrote that the baby was to be named John, he instantly began to speak. Everyone was so amazed and the news of what happened spread throughout the Judean hills.  

 When we were born, God knew us too. No angel came to announce our arrival, but He formed us just as "fearfully and wonderfully" as He formed John the Baptist. We too have a purpose in our life.  We were not just dumped on earth without rhyme or reason.  When we were born, I do believe all the angels and saints rejoiced in heaven.  If an angel came to deliver the news, the angel would have listed our awesome qualities too!  

 In Philemon 1:6, Paul prays that Philemon would recognize and acknowledge all the good things he has in Christ.  WE have so many good qualities! We just have to recognize them and bring them out.  Each one of us can be just as important as John the Baptist, if we obey God, and follow Jesus.  "Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he," Jesus tells the crowd in Matthew 11:11. We may not aspire to be greater than John the Baptist, but I think it would be exciting to work with God who wants to bring out the best in us, and use us. That is how we will find meaning and purpose in our life!  

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Good Fruit

“Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:17

These days there’s a lot of temptation to judge people and even wish they get thrown into the fire for all eternity. We know a lot of our taxes gets waylaid into deep pockets of bribery and corruption, extortion and kick backs. The pandemic has driven news of drug killings out of social media but when you listen to the radio, it is still as rampant as ever. We get horrified by men in uniform who act like hoodlums. It is tempting to conclude these evil men will end up in hell, but we should not issue final judgments. “Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.” (Matthew 7:3) We can however judge a tree by its fruit: “by their fruits, you will know them.” 

The first “tree” we should examine is ourself. What kind of fruit is on our branches? In Galatians 5:22, we can find a checklist of the fruit we must bear: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When people get to know us, do they see these ‘fruits’ in us?

One time a supplier for our business found out I was a Christian, and he asked: “You were not a Christian last year when I came here, were you?” How painful for him to point out that I was unusually impatient that day! 

It is said that the Christian is the world’s Bible. We are ambassadors for Christ. We are His hands and feet here on earth. Lord, please enable us to exhibit the fruit of Your Holy Spirit. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Narrow Gate

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14

Many, many years ago, before Korea was divided into North and South, a theological professor from Yale visited a country church in a rural Korean village. He had an interpreter with him. But when he began by saying, “All thought is divided into two categories, the concrete and the abstract,” the interpreter made a quick decision. 

The small congregation was composed of barefoot schoolboys and toothless grandmothers all eager to hear what this man from far away had to say. The interpreter began his own sermon, “Dear friends,” he said, “I have come all the way from America to tell you about the Lord Jesus Christ.” From that point on, the sermon was firmly in the interpreter’s hands (Samuel Moffet, Christianity Today [11/14/94], p. 55).

I am sure the Koreans profited more from the simple sharing of the interpreter rather than if the interpreter used the high falutin’ words of the esteemed theology professor from Yale. God is not distant and Jesus used stories that his listeners would be very familiar with, shepherds and sheep, vineyards, masters and workers, etc. In the gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus speaks of a narrow gate and another gate which is wide. We should choose to go through the narrow gate, not the gate which leads to destruction. The meaning is fairly simple. Fewer people will choose the narrow gate which is the way of Jesus, the way of the humble, generous servant full of faith who seeks not his advantage but for others’ good. More people would rather live their life their own way, choosing worldly pleasures, putting their personal interests first, and relegating God on the side. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Stop Judging

“Stop judging..." Matthew 7:1

God knows I find this very difficult to obey! I'm a person who has a tendency to look at other people's lives and think why in the world do they do the wrong thing repeatedly? They are just digging their own hole! At heart I am a busybody, though it pains me to admit it!!! When I see something that needs to be corrected, I will go and talk to the person if possible, even if he is a priest or someone with standing. And then I go to confession and repent for being judgmental and self-righteous!

The best way I know to combat this deplorable propensity of mine is to be always conscious that the person I am judging is someone God loves very much-- To see that person through God's eyes, with His compassion, His mercy, His understanding. The same way Jesus looked at the adulterous woman in John Chapter 8. Jesus did not go preaching to her about sin. He loved her. He saw the person she COULD be, and eventually became! 

There is so much pain in everyone's life, and I pray I will always be the one to offer encouragement instead of criticism. I hope I will remember to be the one to offer words of life, of healing, instead of throwing the first stone to destroy someone's self esteem, or confidence. 

God HATES the sins of the tongue. There is much in the Bible about this! But we should always speak good for our own future. 1 Peter 3:10 says, "Whoever wants to embrace life and see his days fill up with good,..say nothing evil or hurtful, cultivate good, run after peace..." (The Message) 

Yes, we reap what we sow!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Does It Matter to God?

"Doesn't it matter to you that we are going to drown?" Mark 4:38

A few years ago I read a news story that sent shivers down my spine. It was about a Filipina and an Australian man who would entice little girls with a good life, coerce them into doing awful things, torture them, and videotape all this to sell on the internet. These are the stories that make men into atheists. They ask the same question the disciples asked when they were on a boat with Jesus and a bad storm broke out. Apparently it was a really bad storm as these were experienced fishermen, as brawny as they come, and Jesus was asleep. "Teacher, doesn't it matter to you, don't you care that we are going to drown?" Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and spoke to the sea. "Be quiet! Be still!" Yes, God can make the wind, the sea, fire, volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, explosive sun storms all obey Him, but He gave us, man, free will. He said He stands at the door and knocks! 

It boggles my mind that God would "sleep" while horrors are going on in the world, in my country, perhaps even in my neighborhood. But another mind boggling thing is God created man to have a relationship with Him. You can't have a genuine, intimate relationship with a robot. I can't have a kinship, a connection with my computer. That's why God gave man free will, the freedom to choose to have a close bond with Him or to reject Him. God gave man a choice to choose evil. 

But the whole Bible is a love story. It is His story of how God loved us even before we knew Him, even while we are sinners. It is a story of a God who is committed to us, who is willing to die for us. Yes, Jesus died for that awful woman and that pervert of a man who are now, thank God, in the hands of authorities. 

The devil tries to make bulwarks of evil all around the world. It's easier now with the internet that can spread lies, pornography, anger, discontent just with a click of a finger. But we should never make the mistake of thinking God does not care. He is busy too, making bulwarks where we can be protected, and where we can venture out to "save" others in the clutches of darkness. Those bulwarks are the communities, prayer groups, churches, and congregations preaching and teaching the authentic word of God. 

"And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near." That is what is said in Hebrews 10:25. God knows we need to be encouraged and inspired, and we need to be taught to obey the written word of God. It is very important that we belong in one of God's bulwarks. Because it matters very much to God that we do not drown in the sea of evil. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Look at the Birds

"Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns yet your heavenly Father feeds them." Matthew 6:26

There are millions and millions of things our heavenly Father does for us, provides for us, that we take for granted!

If He took care that we have a philtrum so that we could express ourselves with a wider range with our lips, what more did He think about for our good? Have we thought of how many joints and hinges are in our skeleton? How is it lubricated? There’s a jelly like substance produced at just the right amount at the right place it is needed! I call my husband and son my sweathearts. Their cooling system is so efficient, they perspire a lot when it is very hot. Our bodies have an automatic thermostat that keeps us at the right temperature. The human body is so wonderful and awesome. Just examine our brains, our eyes, our hands, our heart! No way is the design of our body not an expression of love by our Creator! 

Jesus is the limitless wellspring of all we need...fed by the river that flows from the very throne of God. (from the Word Among Us)

If we sit still and ponder all what God has done for our good, our hearts will well up in gratitude! 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Where Your Heart Is

“…store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Matthew 6:20-21

Jesus told a man in the crowd in Matthew 12:15, 21, “One's life does not consist of possessions...Be rich in what matters to God." 

God placed eternity in our hearts. That is why sometimes we have a yearning for something more. We belong in heaven, and we are here to prepare to be citizens in heaven. The easiest way to learn is to go to the Master and read His words in the Bible. He tells us that we should not accumulate earthly riches because we can't take this with us where we are going. We should invest in treasures in heaven. We can exchange our pesos, dollars, euros, yens, not by going to the foreign exchange but by giving to God's work. Tithes, donations during calamities, having a birthday party in the prison, buying soap and books and cookies for orphans, helping widows, helping to build a home for the aged, etc. Heaven's treasures are PEOPLE! That's why Jesus paid the ultimate price for us- His very life!

It is not easy to stockpile heavenly treasures AT FIRST. Just as it was not easy for me to pray and read scripture for 5 minutes when I was young! It seemed as if 5 minutes was an eternity! But now an hour flies by so fast. It is the same with money. Give a little at first, partner with God, and He will train us if we tell Him that we want to invest in treasures in heaven!

We should try to listen to God's financial advice and try to put our money where there is no risk!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

I Choose to Forgive

"If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15

In February 1993, the only son of Mary Johnson was fatally shot by 16 year old Oshea Israel. 20 year old Laramiun Byrd was shot in the head after an altercation at a party. Israel had been involved in drugs and gangs, and was tried as an adult. He served prison time for 17 years.

Mary Johnson was just consumed by hatred. She called it a "tsunami" of hatred. I think most of us would just plain understand this. I can't imagine not hating someone who shoots my only son!!! But Mary Johnson stayed in church and it would be 10 long years before she would be able to look at her heart and choose to forgive. Her Pastor asked her to teach a lesson on forgiveness and she heard Jesus say to her, "Mary, pray for him like you are praying for yourself." And she did. Then she heard, "Every time his name comes up, say, 'I choose to forgive." She repented and forgave him with a true forgiveness. She did not know that as she prayed for Oshea, he changed too.

She went to visit him, and they talked. To love your enemy means you have to feel their pain. You have to get to know their story. You have to understand their history. And the more Mary and Oshea talked, the more they got closer. When Oshea was released from prison, Mary threw him a homecoming party. Her friends were there to support him too. Today, they live next door to each other, and share a porch. They go around sharing about the power of forgiveness.

There are many stories about how people are able to rise above their "humanness" and become superhuman. Loving is the only super power that we need. It is creative. It is transforming. It is redemptive. It is freeing. It is healing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Cheerful Giver

“…whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully…God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Tithing is an Old Testament concept found in Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5, etc. The Jews were supposed to give 10% of their produce to the Lord. In the New Covenant, nowhere does it mention 10%, but Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:7, that  man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 

To me, tithing or giving has a lot to do with partnering with the Lord in His work. It’s like investing some capital in the Lord’s business. Whether we give or not, His Kingdom will grow, just like the tiny mustard seed would grow into a tree in Matthew 13. We would like to be a part of that for surely there is much gain involved, eternal profit!

If we happened to invest $10,000 on Apple’s IPO back in Dec. 12, 1980, today our stock would be worth more than $7 million dollars. In God’s “stock exchange”, it’s a very different ballgame as God’s measuring stick is not the same as the world’s. If two people invest the same amount on God’s stock, the value in God’s eyes would be dependent on how much we had left in the bank!!!! 

In Luke 21, we see how Jesus thinks. He sees many rich people putting their offerings into the Temple treasury. But of all the people, some of them giving huge sums of money, He pointed out the poor widow putting in two copper coins. “I assure  you, this poor widow has put in more than all the rest. They make contributions out of their surplus, but she from her want has given what she could not afford- every penny she had to live on.” When the poor widow gets to heaven, she will find that the value of her stock generated dividends and a tremendous return of investment! Let us remember the words of Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7: “The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” What does the Lord see in our heart? 

Lord, help me to sow bountifully and cheerfully. I want treasures in heaven! 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Love Your Enemies

“Love your enemies…” Matthew 5:43

Sometimes our enemies live with us. Think Cain and Abel, Luke Skywalker and his dad, or the countless stories of fathers and sons trying to kill each other because one is a Taliban warrior and the other in the militia. I remember back in college when I would tell my classmates that I was working in the family business. Some would then respond adamantly, "I'd never work for my parents!!! We would just quarrel every day!" Most of the time our enemies are those who are close to us. After all, how can anyone hurt us if we do not care about them? It is those we love who have the most power to wound us. 

How do we love our enemy, our mother, who deeply injures us when she compares us to others? Our enemy, our dearest closest friend, who told our secrets to someone else? Our enemy, our father, who abandoned us when we needed his protection? People always disappoint. That's what people do. People are made of clay, easily broken, in need of redemption. WE are made of clay, we disappoint. We usually cannot give what others expect of us, most of the time, or some of the time. 

What we need is God's love shining through our brokenness, our cracks. After all, we can only love because He first loved us (1 John 4:9). We cannot give what we do not have. To love our enemies, or our friends, or our family, we need to be confident in God who loves us immeasurably, forgives us unconditionally, and will walk with us till the end. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

I Will Praise Him

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; ​break into song; sing praise.” Psalm 98:4

I started numbering my blessings after I read Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are”. But I had to stop when I ended up in the hospital for three weeks without my journal. I think I was up to 9,000 plus when I stopped. Every day, I start with counting my blessings, but now, I write them on my iPad. There is always plenty to thank God for even on days when there is bad news or some horrible disaster. 

I have learned not to take things for granted. There was a time I could not eat, nor talk because I had so many mouth sores. Then there were those months I had to wear those thick, hot, ugly compression stockings. Now I am still on oxygen. My foot is still healing and I have to walk very very carefully. The fact that we can walk, even carefully, that we can remember things, that we are able to love, forgive, get excited, smile, we should never, never take that for granted. We should wake up every morning and praise and thank God if our husband and children are safe, healthy in body and mind, interested in life, and we have a home and a roof over our heads. So many, myriads of things we have to thank God for! His gifts are endless! 

A friend on Facebook started her list with thankfulness for coffee. My list doesn’t even contain the word coffee. Yet. Or chocolates! Salmon sushi! My son’s paella and Napoleones! I like the way Ann Voskamp writes, and speaks. “How,” she wondered, “do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long, and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?” When she started chronicling life’s gifts, it was transformative. 

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Mustard Seed Faith

"The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed." 
Mark 4:31

If Jesus were to start a business, He would have started small. He wouldn't have borrowed money. He would have worked out of his garage or even out in the fields. He wouldn't have looked for PhDs or business people with a lot of experience. He would have trained His people well, and He would have grown this mustard seed business slowly but surely, showing His people by example, and then sending them out two by two. God never looks down upon small beginnings. In Zechariah 4:10, God asks, "For who has despised the day of small things?"

We can start with a mustard seed faith, really tiny, but in God's hand, the Master Gardener, it can grow and develop into something so mighty, the devil cowers in fear before it. We can and should grow our faith. I remember listening to Aliss Cresswell. When she started on her journey, she had a mustard seed faith, but she wanted the gift of healing, and she would bravely pray over people all the time. Nothing happened at first, and some people even died. But she kept at it for 10 years. Now when she prays, 90% of the people get healed or some sort of miracle happens. 

When someone asks us to pray for them, most of us will nod our heads and say yes. Seldom do we put out our hand and lay hands on the person. But laying hands is stepping out in faith, and telling God, "Here I am, use me!" If we do it more often, if we pull out our mustard seed faith out of its protective covering more often, we will see it grow. 

Lord, here is my mustard seed faith! Help me to grow it into a mustard tree, mighty and pleasing to You!

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Ambassador Me!

“We are all ambassadors for Christ…” 2 Corinthians 5:20

I was reading about Salma Hayek teaming up with Unicef to eradicate tentanus. “Several years ago it was so hard to get media attention for this,” the Unicef spokesperson said, “Enter Salma, and here we suddenly had 30 media outlets hanging on her every word."

There was a John 3:16 challenge back in 2015 or 2016, where the challenge was for Christians to share the verse once a week with a lost person with the intention of leading them to a relationship with Jesus. After Football superstar Tim Tebow put John 3:16 on his eye black during a national championship game, this bible verse was googled 94 million times!!!!

We don't need star power to be ambassadors for Christ. We just need to KNOW Him,

really KNOW Him!

Do we know that it is love that He desires, not sacrifice? That He prefers that we know Him and have a relationship with Him rather than fasting, and alms giving?

"Embedded in every work God does in our lives, is an invitation to an intimate relationship with His son." (From the “Word Among Us”.)

If we get to know Christ more and more, our words and our lives will be so compelling, that we would not need to be a popular actress or a famous athlete to be an ambassador for the One who calls us to be His very own! 

As ambassadors for Christ, what creative thing can we do so people will want to know Christ more? These days it is not so difficult because there’s Facebook and Instagram and a myriad other social media platforms where we can set up our soap box. When we share about God’s love, we are scattering seeds far and wide, and God will be the One who will give the growth. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

God’s Love

Let us claim Saint Paul's prayer for the people of Ephesus for ourselves: “I kneel before the Father...that He may grant you in accord with the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power... And that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend ...what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory...forever and ever. Amen." 

Eph. 3:14-21

What a powerful prayer this is! No one can conceive how rich God is. No one can comprehend His power. His love is limitless and all-encompassing. He can easily grant any of our prayers and nothing is impossible for Him. 

Paul KNEW Christ. He received a revelation from Christ Himself and He is praying the same for us. That we would know Christ and that He would dwell with us. If Jesus said He wanted to live with us in our home, what would we do? I would clean up for sure! 

Jesus wants to live in our hearts! We need to be rooted and grounded, established, 

stable in God's love, not in the love this world offers so that we may be overflowing with His fullness and grace and spirit. Impossible? If we want it enough, God is fully able to do all this and more!

Thursday, June 10, 2021


“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

After Jesus died, the apostles saw Him several times. He told them that they would receive power, and that they were to proclaim the good news to all the ends of the earth. From timid, scared men who were in hiding, they became bold and fervent, and witnessed every where. They preached and performed many miraculous signs. Some people would get healed just from being under Peter's shadow. So you can imagine the crowds and commotion that followed them!

The High Priest and the Sadducees were not happy about this! They were jealous and threw the apostles in jail. But an angel came in the night and set them free. "Go out now ...and preach to the people about this new life!" And so Peter and the apostles went back to the Temple at dawn and started preaching!

Do we realize that we too have been set free? It may not be from an actual jail cell, but sin and death can be as real and confining as a jail cell. If we have no addiction to sexual sin, if we have no need of inner healing, if we are free from depression, if we are not bound by a desire for alcohol, that is by the grace of God! We live in a broken society where so many are in need of freedom. If we are free, let us help others who are not free by giving them the message of life like the apostles were driven to do. If we have need of healing, let us go to Jesus and say, "Lord, I want to be free! Pour down Your grace upon me! I need You! Forgive me and heal my brokenness!" Truly God's lavish and extravagant grace, His unmerited favor, is available to all!

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

The Smallest Part of the Letter

 "Until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter of the law, not the smallest part of the letter, shall be done away with until it all comes true." Matthew 5:18

Verse 21 in the same chapter reads: “"Whoever is angry with someone will be liable to judgement." We have all gotten angry with someone at one time or another. Anger is defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility. It can go from rage to irritation or a slight exasperation. Before Jesus said this about anger, He gave this strong proclamation: "Of this much I assure you: until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter of the law, not the smallest part of the letter, shall be done away with until it all comes true." 

How much more emphatic can Jesus be! Does this not mean that every little yodh (the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet), and the tiniest serif (stroke at the end of a letter), is inspired by God and has His imprimatur, His official approval?!!! We definitely need to understand clearly what Jesus means by anger because He says that anyone and everyone who grows angry with his brother will be liable to judgment the same way that a murderer is liable to judgement. If we are abusive with our maids, if we belittle our employees, if we show contempt for others, feeling they are beneath us, this all falls under Jesus' definition of anger. 

I was listening to someone describing a woman in church. She knew her as such a nice and gentle person, she said, but she was shocked when she visited her at home. She treated her maids with disdain and would shout at them!  I suppose there are parts in our character we are not aware of, shadows that can't bear the light of truth.

Lord, make me aware of whatever there is in my life that is not pleasing to You. Help me to surrender all to You. It is impossible to obey all the yodhs and serifs of the law, but my hope lies in You. You are my righteousness! 

Tuesday, June 08, 2021


"You are the light of the world." Matthew 5:14

Pope Francis said in his 2014 Angelus message that Christians should be luminous people who always give off light. We should be shining lamps, burning lamps in a dark world. How?

I think it should be by discovering our spiritual gifts, developing them, practicing and using them, and even asking God for more gifts! There are so many gifts that I’m sure there is one, two, three or more that would fit our personality and character. There is administration, celibacy, craftsmanship, discernment of spirits, encouragement, evangelism, faith, generosity, healing, helping, hospitality, intercession, word of knowledge, leadership, mercy, mission work, music, pastoring, prophecy, service, teaching, voluntary poverty, wisdom, writing, tongues and interpretation of tongues, and probably many more! We should get excited going through this list because it is God's way of empowering us to be channels of His goodness, His truth, His loving presence in the world! Imagine receiving a gift from somebody and not opening it. Highly impossible if it was me! I love opening gifts!

Imagine receiving many gifts from God and not knowing about it, not opening it, not using it! Lord, may I be determined and purposeful in finding my spiritual gifts! I want to use them and be a light of the world! Thank You for all my gifts and may I help others find their gifts as well! 

Monday, June 07, 2021

Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit...” Matthew 5:3

What does blessed mean?  Partly it means that God turns His face towards us with divine favor. With all the good in Him. To be poor in spirit, what does that mean? It's not that we have no money or resources.

I think it means being aware that we are spiritually bankrupt before the Lord. That we have absolutely nothing that we can offer Him because He is awesome, and mighty and does not need anything from us. There is also nothing that we can boast of. Our good deeds are as rags before Him. 

Sometimes I give talks about our business to students. In the last talk, I had to do a recording. I never fail to mention that God is a partner in our business, and we are successful because of Him. Prayer is always a part of the way we do business.

After one particular talk a long time ago, I was feeling inordinately pleased with myself and sort of congratulated myself for doing a good job.  Immediately, God took me to task and showed me verses from Luke 17. 

In it the master says, “When you have done everything that was assigned to you, you should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have simply done our duty." Although I felt ashamed for awhile, our Father never condemns. When He teaches us a lesson it is always with love and for our own good. 

The Beatitudes are not about what we do. If we are a CEO, or a garbage collector, a priest or a toilet cleaner, that is not what is important to God. What is important is what we are, our character.  Are we becoming like Jesus every day? Because for all our roles and duties, God can raise up stones to do it all better than we can! 

Sunday, June 06, 2021


"How shall I make a return to the Lord, for all the good He has done for me?" Psalm 116:3

Indeed my whole life is a testament to God's unfailing goodness and love. He surrounded me with people who love, support, and encourage me to be the best I can be. He put me in a place where I can use my gifts and talents. He answers my prayers and speaks to me when I need His help, and even when I feel I don't. He forgives me seventy times seven and assures me that nothing shall ever separate me from His love. I do not know which Saint said that God showed His love on the cross for us then when He sacrificed His mortal life for us, and continues to share His life and love with us through the Eucharist. Eucharist is from the Greek eukharistia "thanksgiving and gratitude. Eukharisteo is the usual verb for "to thank, to be thankful" in the Septuagint and Greek New Testament, and kharis is “favor, grace," 

How do I repay the Lord for all the kharis He has shown me? By being faithful to Him, by being sincere in my desire to follow Him, by returning again and again to the fount of living water, so I can be washed clean. Lord, I may never deserve Your love, but may I always try to be Your daughter in every way, to follow Your teachings, and to care for those You care for.