Thursday, June 30, 2022


“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2

Sami Dagher is the founding pastor of the Karantina Alliance Church in Beirut, and the president of the National Evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Lebanon. 

He was a “teddy bear” of a man, small but packed with energy. One night at about 11 pm, Sami and his wife were in a car, Sami was driving along a road in Lebanon, when Sami stopped because there was a suitcase lying on the road. His wife dissuaded him from picking it up, but Sami proceeded to get out of his car and loaded it into the trunk. When they reached home, he opened the suitcase and he found it was packed with money. Every square inch was just filled with money. He was able to find a calling card and he called the number on it. 

“Hello? Is this Mr. So and So?” 


“Did you lose something?”

The man on the other line was quiet for a moment, then, “Did you find it?”


The man wanted to come over and get it, but Sami said, “Come tomorrow. I have no plans for your suitcase.”

When the man arrived the next morning he was so grateful to Sami, amazed that someone would return the money. He said that he had withdrawn all his money from the bank with plans of leaving the country. As a reward he offered Sami some money. Sami said, “No, no, no, I only accept that amount of cash in the collection plate. Come to my church on Sunday.” The man came with his family, and at the end of the service, they all went to the front to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. As they asked Jesus to come into their hearts, their tears fell. They knew their sins had been forgiven. 

“You thought you had your treasure,” Sami said, “but the real treasure is Jesus Christ and His Words.” He gave them a Bible. There is no treasure apart from God. Whatever we are searching for, freedom, wisdom, power, riches, beauty or forgiveness. He is the source of all good things. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Good Fight

 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

When I was young, my whole family joined the Milo Marathon training. It was fun because there were a lot of people joining in. I found it funny because during the first and subsequent sessions we walked very sloooowly, that I got so bored. I would bring a book with me to read while walking. That was how serious I was about the training. 

My sister Peggy was more earnest and followed the instructions of the trainer. Eventually she finished the course by completing a whole marathon while I watched from the sidelines. I think it was because I was not seeing the goal. I was just there to be with the family and have fun. When the going got tough, I opted out. 

As Christians, we have to set our eyes on the prize- eternal life! If we don't, we can lose our way. We can just be watching from the sidelines while others are running the race seriously. 

Lord, may I set my eyes on You, and seriously follow You! Like Paul, may I be able to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New Adventures

“Lord, save us!  We are perishing!” Matthew 8:25

My father loved to sail, even when he was 90 years old. He taught my husband Luigi to sail and they went off on many adventures together. Once they went off on a trip to Taal because there was a regatta. The wind was very rough, and as my daddy was getting on in age, Luigi went off by himself first. On his return he found my father waiting for him, all kitted out in his life vest. Obviously he wanted to go out even if the weather was so bad. Picture a small sailboat being swamped by the waves. The wind was terrifyingly strong. Luigi was  anxious because he knew he would have to take care of my dad if they capsized. But my dad? He was exhilarated. He was in his element. The strong winds and mighty waves excited him. Little did they know the experienced fishermen on the shore were looking out for them, knowing the wind was so strong. They got back safely to the relief of Luigi, the fishermen and onlookers.

Life can be a ride on a boat. Sometimes it’s an easy, relaxing ride. Sometimes it is fraught with peril. Like during this pandemic. We didn’t really know how to navigate, because we had never passed this way before. Who would have imagined it would last so long? Too many people got sick, lost loved ones, closed their business or became depressed. 

When my father knew he was nearing the end of his life, he talked to his grandchildren. He had built a boat in his backyard, and he had planned to go fishing in Simo Banks off the coast of Batangas. He showed them the map where Simo Banks is (so far!), and gave them instructions. Isabel was very receptive and daddy was so happy she said she would go. Even with a map, and navigational tools, I doubt it will be easy to get there, and I don’t know if they’ll catch any fish! The thing is, with or without a map, this journey called life is uncertain. But we can also be like my dad, excited about the twists and turns that God allows to happen. Challenged by new adventures, looking forward to what the future brings, and certain that with God at the helm, everything will be all right. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

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 about the everyday tasks and leisures like washing dishes, eating, teaching our kids, 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 with resolute determination, we can celebrate and Jesus will celebrate with us, much like Levi rejoiced in his new found freedom!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

For Freedom

“For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

In 1944, during World War 2, Intelligence Officer Hiroo Onoda was sent to the island of Lubang here in the Philippines, to gather intelligence. Using the guerrilla tactics he was specifically trained for, Onoda and his small group survived in the jungle. When they saw leaflets announcing the end of the war on August 15, 1945, they thought it was Allied propaganda. One by one Onoda's companions either surrendered or were killed until he was all alone. In 1974, a Japanese student named Nario Suzuki, set out to find "Onoda, a panda and the abominable snowman". Amazingly he found and befriended Onoda. 

It was only when Suzuki brought Onoda's old commander, Major Taniguchi, that Onoda finally set down his rifle, ammunition, and hand grenades. He wept bitterly realizing that he had wasted so many years of his life.

How many of us are battling a war that was already won for us thousands of years ago? Romans 6:18 says “You have been set free from your slavery to sin..." 

Some men in the QC Jail are free even if they are behind bars,  because they have accepted Christ and walk in the way of light, forgiveness and love. And some people outside of jail are in terrible bondage to hidden sin, guilt, unforgiveness, addiction, pornography, etc. The list is long, but the first step to freedom is confessing our sin, bringing it out into the light, surrendering to God, and committing to do everything to be the person Jesus sacrificed His life for.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

God is the Friend of Silence

“…his mother kept all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:51

If Mary had a diary, what would it contain? She had to deal with sorrows and challenges no one on earth had had to deal with before or since! She probably had questions no one had answers for! And she kept all of this in her heart, she pondered them.

Perhaps if we pondered more often, we would be able to deal with our trials and questions better! The meaning of ponder is to reflect or contemplate. The word comes from the Latin “ponderare” which literally means to weigh, and “pondus” which means weight. It is not overthinking but meditating, opening our spiritual eyes. 

Sometimes we too do not understand all the goings on in our life. All does not have to be clear. All we have to do is to have God’s word in our hearts and mind, the Word dwelling within us. If we keep Jesus with us, and we do not always put ourselves first, we can be sure His Spirit will lead the way. 

Perhaps we can be reminded by these words from Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees and flowers and grass—grow in silence. See the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within—words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”

Or perhaps the advice from another Saint, “Ponder the fact that God has made you a gardener, to root out vice and to plant virtue.” (St. Catherine of Siena) 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Lost Sheep

 "Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep." Luke 15:6

In the 15th chapter of Luke, we have parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and a lost son. The sheep is wandering in the wilderness, in danger. The coin was misplaced, it's just in the home of a woman who searches high and low for it. The prodigal son actually chooses to be lost.

Whatever way we or someone we love is lost, Jesus shows us through these stories,  that even if we are lost in the wilderness, out of the church, or lost within the church, and even if we ourselves  choose to rebel against God, He will turn on the lamp and search high and low for us. 

And like the father in the story of the prodigal son, He will wait for us longingly, eagerly. It's a crazy love God has for us. Even if others give up on us, God will not.  Even if we are filthy and heavy (with sin) like the sheep in the wilderness, Jesus will carry us. And every time, God celebrates when we come back to Himself!

Joy comes when we repent and turn back to God, our loving Father. “Every saint in Heaven knows that he or she was a lost sheep who has been found and brought home by Jesus the Good Shepherd. The joy in Heaven multiplies with the arrival of every new saint.” (The Anawim Way) 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Point the Way to the Lord

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

John the Baptist 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 point the way to Him.  "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!  We too can point the way to the Lord and herald His coming! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Good Fruit

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

What fruit am I bearing? Do I bear good fruit? If I don’t, Jesus says “I will be cut down and thrown into the fire”! 

I like reading about the saints, and also ordinary men and women who are known for their good fruit because then I am prodded to do the same. Sometimes in the busyness of life, we forget to serve others, to be generous, to be what God wants us to be. 

Almost all of us know Anne Frank from the diary she wrote, “The Diary of a Young Girl” which was published after she died at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

We can say Anne Frank is the fruit of her father, Otto Frank, the only one in their family to survive the brutal Nazi camps. After Anne’s books were published, many young men and women wrote Otto. He answered each and every one of those letters until he was too old to do it.

When Cara Wilson visited Otto after years of correspondence, she saw in his little study wall-to-wall notebooks bursting with letters. And Otto showed her a notebook filled with HER letters, starting from when she was 12 years old. Otto lost his family but he gained many sons and daughters through the years. There’s John Neiman who became a priest, Sumi from Japan, who signed herself, “Your daughter, Sumi”. He advised and encouraged them all to be brave, strong and hopeful like his daughter Anne. 

It does not matter if we are old or young, rich or poor, we can always bear good fruit for the Lord! I heard the story of a quadriplegic young girl. She would watch the news and every time she felt someone needed encouragement because of some disaster or accident, she would hold a stick in her mouth and type out a message on her computer to send out. She has helped many people in this way, and has found meaning in her situation. 

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. May the Lord enable us to exhibit the fruit of His  Holy Spirit. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Narrowest Street in the World

“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

The record holder of the narrowest street in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is called Spreuerhofstraße, actually a narrow alley in the old town of Reutlingen, Germany. The townspeople insist it’s a street even if is just 31 cm. wide at it’s narrowest point because it sits on municipal land. Lots of tourists go and see it but they’re not encouraged to pass through because they may get stuck! 

In Luke 13:23-24, Jesus is asked if only a few will be saved. He answers them that they should, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate..." The word 'strive' is translated from the Greek AGONIZOMAI, where the word 'agony' comes from. This word is used to describe athletic contests and war. And we know what kind of contests and wars the Greeks had!!! The athletes had to “endeavor with strenuous zeal”, push themselves to the limit, strain with all their might! 

When we evaluate our life, can we say we are traveling along the narrow road? Jesus’ way is not the world’s way. It is the way of humility, generosity and unselfish love for others. It is certainly not easy. To squeeze through the narrowest street in the world, as some tourists insist on doing, they have to unburden themselves of their bags, jackets, even their belts. We too have to give up some things as well, but we can hold on to Philippians 1:6, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." Let's strive with confidence and finish the race!!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Stop Judging

“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” Matthew 7:1

This is one of those teachings of Jesus that is almost impossible for me to do. We really should not judge because only God sees the heart but the tendency of our heart is almost always towards judging others. The thing is we won’t be able to understand why people do the things they do unless we walk in their shoes. 

However there is also such a thing as right judgement. For instance, when we hire a person for a job, we are supposed to make an evaluation based on his bio data, the answers he gives us when he is interviewed, and recommendations from past employers. If we hire a person who cannot submit an NBI Clearance which certifies that he or she is not involved in any ongoing criminal case in the Philippines, we should not be surprised if one day he or she is proven to be dishonest. In the last election we elected a President who has not paid his family’s obligations to the country, and has not returned their ill gotten wealth. Can we expect him to be morally upright during his term? Although we condemn his actions, we must never ever condemn him. 

Earl Nightingale said, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” I think that’s why Jesus emphasized that just as we judge, so will we be judged. Let us make sure that we do not judge others rashly, for as long as a person lives, there is always hope for reform. That is what I am praying for our new President. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Loaves and Fishes

“Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” Luke 9:13

Does God still multiply bread? Is He still in the business of miracles? I believe so. Just like He used the little boy who gave his five barley loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people, He uses Joe Dean Sola who gives his all to feed thousands of street children. That was not Joe Dean’s plan at all. He wanted to be a drug lord and become rich. He used Bible pages to wrap marijuana in to smoke. But one day Joe Dean saw 2 street kids in a waiting shed. He gave them food to eat, and gave them a bath. On August 10, 1996, he founded He Cares for street children in his garage. He cooked food for them, and cleaned them up. 

In 2013, he challenged the street toughies who sniffed rugby to give him their 5 pesos instead of using it to buy rugby. He promised to build them a house. True enough, the construction of the 3 story building started in April 2014. In Sept. 19, 2015, the structure which can accommodate 100 boys was finished. 

Joe Dean answered God’s call to give his all for God’s precious abandoned lost children. Today, the caring center on no. 9 Mines street, Project 6, QC, feeds thousands of kids, sends about 500 to school, and has brought them all back to the love of the Father. 

Today, Joe Dean is working on making his dream of a farm for the children come to fruition. Nothing stops his enthusiasm to serve His big God. And God continues to supply what Joe Dean needs. If you would like to help, visit and be part of The Promised Land Sustainable Farm Community. There are 37 people on the farm, and they are building a church, campsite, and homes. Right now, they need seedlings, fruit bearing trees, and organic fertilizer. 

Let us always be open to be part of God’s miracles around the world and give our loaves and fishes to God’s work in the midst of us. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Do Not Worry

“Do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” 

Matthew 6:31-34

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian writer and speaker who survived being incarcerated in the infamous Ravensbrück labor camp for women during World War II for helping Jews and other refugees escape from the clutches of the Nazis. She learned that, “Worry is like a rocking chair: it keeps you moving but doesn't get you anywhere."

During her stay in the prison camp, God showed her that He could use even bugs for His purposes. She and her older sister Betsie would hold Bible studies and prayer meetings in the overcrowded barracks. Although the Bible was absolutely forbidden, Corrie had been able to miraculously smuggle a small one inside with her. She worried about being found out, but Betsie told her not to worry as the German guards did not dare go inside their barracks because it was well known to be flea infested! So night after night, many women huddled together, and received sustenance from the Bible. 

After 10 months in Ravensbrück, Betsie died from lack of food and medical attention, but not before she told Corrie that, “We must tell them, Corrie! We must tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”

A few days after Betsie’s death, Corrie was miraculously released due to a clerical error. She learned later that all the women in the camp of her age bracket were murdered in the gas chambers to make way for new prisoners arriving. She spent the rest of her life speaking and writing about God’s love and forgiveness. She traveled to more than 60 countries to spread this message and never asked people for money, only waited for God to provide. 

He did. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Where Our Heart Is

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Matthew 6:21

Sometimes we do not realize how blessed we are, and we need some sort of reminder. One time, Christian speaker and writer, Corrie Ten Boom, was feeling sorry for herself. After all, she felt so weary with all the traveling and speaking and ministering. Her stomach was upset from the unusual food they were eating while in Japan, and she wished she could sleep on a soft bed rather than the hard mats provided in the homes she stayed in. 

After the service in the church where she gave her talk, she was introduced to an old Japanese man in a wheelchair. She noticed that he looked so happy and was so pleased when she asked him about the brown paper packages he had on his lap. He proceeded to unwrap one, and showed her what was inside. 

“It’s the Gospel of John in Braille. I’ve just finished it.” He shared that he had written fifteen Gospels of John in Braille, and many other books of the Bible for blind people. Corrie asked him how he thought of doing this service, and the man willingly told her about Bible women in Japan who go to different villages to bring the Bible and other Christian material for those who are hungry for God. “Our Bible woman is very sick with tuberculosis, but still she visits 16 villages a week. I wanted to do something to help. Even if I am paralyzed and cannot move out of my wheelchair, I am happy to be able to make Braille bibles for her to distribute to those who cannot see.” 

Corrie felt ashamed after talking to the disabled man. “Here I was, with two good legs traveling all over the world, two good lungs, and two good eyes, complaining because I did not like the food!” Let us learn to be more grateful for the “treasures” we take for granted! And make sure our real treasure is the Lord and our relationship with Him! 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Forgive Us Our Tresspasses

“…forgive us our trespasses, ​as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Matthew 6:12

I know that having a huge credit card debt can be such a heavy burden. Imagine the debt being erased by the credit card company just by the signature of the President of the bank! Whew! What a relief! In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus compared the Kingdom of heaven to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date. In the accounting, it was discovered that a servant owed him millions! Obviously the servant bowing low and pleading before the king would have no means of repaying such a colossal amount. The King took pity and forgave him his debt! 

This same servant, instead of being grateful and understanding, went to a fellow servant who owed him a hundred days wages. He grabbed him by the throat, and demanded instant payment, even if the man was pleading and asking for more time. He had the man arrested and thrown in jail. What did the king do when he heard about it? He got angry and threw the first servant in jail. “Shouldn’t you have shown mercy to your fellow servant just as I had mercy on you?” the king asked. 

Are there people we have not forgiven? Is there someone we resent for his or her actions or words that we cannot forget? Marianne Williamson, a teacher and author, says that unforgiveness is like drinking poison ourselves and waiting for the other person to die! 

Let us rid ourself of any poison of bitterness, anger and resentment. Hard? Yes! Impossible? No. By God’s grace Corrie Ten Boom put out her reluctant hand to forgive the Nazi guard when he came to ask her forgiveness. She remembered walking naked past this same man in his uniform with a leather crop hanging from his belt in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. She remembered how thin they all were, her sister Betsie in front of her in a line of naked women. And there he was again, in front of her, asking forgiveness. Only by God’s grace was Corrie Ten Boom able to hold up her hand to shake the former guard’s hand. Only by God’s grace will we be able to forgive as God has forgiven us our many sins!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Come Along, Lord

"If I find favor with You O Lord, 
do come along in our company." 
Moses' prayer in Exodus 34:9

Some people don't want God 
to come along in their outings, 
in their work, wherever they are. 
They think God is a spoil sport, 
someOne who will say 'Don't do this, don't do that!' 
But in Moses' and Abraham's life, 
God was the One who pushed them 
to be greater men, 
to use the gifts and resources God lavished on them, 
who made them leaders. 
I think we should always want Him with us!

Love Our Enemies

"He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust." 
Mt. 5:45

There is a true story of the 19th c Prime Minister of Spain, Duke Ramon Maria Narvaez. On his death bed, the priest asked him, "Does your excellency forgive all your enemies?" Narvaez replied, "I don't have to forgive my enemies, I have had them all shot." I wonder how many of us, if we had the power to do so, would do the same! 

God has the power and the authority to destroy all His enemies, but He doesn't. Jesus taught us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, annoy us, irritate us, wish us evil, vote for a different President. If we are capable of loving our enemies like that, we will be His children, for He makes the sun rise on both the good and the bad, and causes the rain to fall on the fields of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 

Lord, You know my heart. I am far from perfect! But little by little, change me Lord! I want to be like You!

War Room

“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” Matthew 6:6

I am reminded of a story of a little boy saying his bedtime prayers beside his mom and grandma. He started by mumbling, “Thank You for my parents, my grandma and my brothers and sisters. Thank You that I passed my math exam...” then he ended by shouting, “and please may I get a bike for Christmas!” His mom asked him why he was shouting. “God’s not deaf!” she said, and he responded, “No, but Grandma is!”

We all have our little quirks when we approach God. Before Him, we are naked. We cannot pretend to be who we are not. He knows exactly who we are, what we are capable of, what we can be. He knows our foibles, our idiosyncrasies, our weaknesses and strengths. Here is a God who knows us inside out and loves us anyway. We are precious in His eyes, whether we are a heroin addict, a foul mouthed President, an inmate in the bloodiest prison in the country, or a harried mother too busy to pray. I can see Him waiting for us to come to Him. 

It is inconceivable, that kind of love! Here Jesus is telling us that the Creator of the Universe has time for us. One-on-one time. He wants to be alone with us. He waits. No cellphone. No one to tell us our time is up. He waits for us to tell Him about our day, our frustrations, our battles, our victories. What a comfort it is to tell Him of our sins, our burdens, and have Him carry it for us to Calvary. 

Our prayer room can be our war room where we battle against cancer, against the crisis in our country, against the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It can be our sanctuary in the storm, a place of rest where we can claim our Father’s promises of restoration and peace beyond understanding. For me it is a place where God reveals His inexhaustible treasures. 

Thank You Lord for one-on-one time with You! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Wash Me from my Guilt

“Thoroughly wash me from my guilt ​and of my sin cleanse me.” Psalm 51:4

Jesus told His disciples in John 13:8, that “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." It is after Jesus eats His last meal with them that He prepares to wash their feet. Of course none of them were prepared for that! 

At the evening mass for Holy Thursday, the priest washes the feet of some church goers. I am sure those chosen men and women wash their feet well before going to church! But the disciples did not have time to prepare. So of course, Peter and no doubt the others said, “NO WAY!" They were probably too ashamed to let Jesus hold their grimy, calloused feet with their long, dirt encrusted toenails! But Jesus said, "I have to wash your feet, or you won't get your inheritance, you can't have a part in My Kingdom. You won't be my brother."  And so Peter typically goes overboard and pleads, “Wash my hands and head as well!" 

Today, how can we allow Jesus to wash us, cleanse us of our sin and guilt? If we are Catholic, we can go to confession. I usually feel very refreshed after going to confession, like I took a bath after a trip to Divisoria, or a dusty marketplace. But it is good practice to ask forgiveness from God every day, going over the day’s activities to see where we failed Him. We can allow Him into the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds ,confident there is no condemnation, only love. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

An Eye for an Eye

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. Matthew 5:38-39

Jesus in His sermon on the mount was quoting from Exodus 21:24-25, which reads, “an eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise”. The proverb, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” came from the Code of Hammurabi, a King of Babylon in 1792-1750BC. This code of justice prevented the escalation of violence, meaning that a person should not retaliate beyond the crime committed against him.

This is not the way of Jesus which is always the way of love and forgiveness. He says, “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” This is very difficult to do. Only by God’s grace is this possible. 

Detective Steven McDonald worked in the New York City Police Department when he was shot in the face and throat by one of the teenage boys he was questioning. As a result, Steven was paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair and breathing machine. 

He was interviewed by Johann Christoph Arnold who wrote Steven’s story in his book, “Why Forgive?”. This is an excerpt from the book:

“Then, about six months after I was shot, Patti Ann (his wife of a little over a year) gave birth to a baby boy. We named him Conor. To me, Conor’s birth was like a message from God that I should live, and live differently. And it was clear to me that I had to respond to that message. I prayed that I would be changed, that the person I was would be replaced by something new.

That prayer was answered with a desire to forgive the young man who shot me. I wanted to free myself of all the negative, destructive emotions that his act of violence had unleashed in me: anger, bitterness, hatred, and other feelings. I needed to free myself of those emotions so that I could love my wife and our child and those around us.

Then, shortly after Conor’s birth, we held a press conference. People wanted to know what I was thinking and how I was doing. That’s when Patti Ann told everyone that I had forgiven the young man who tried to kill me.”

Steven wrote to Shavod Jones while the teenager was in prison, and eventually Shavod called him and apologized. “I accepted his apology, and I told him I hoped he and I could work together in the future. I hoped that one day we might travel around the country together sharing how this act of violence had changed both our lives, and how it had given us an understanding of what is most important in life....I forgave Shavod because I believe the only thing worse than receiving a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart. Such an attitude would have extended my injury to my soul, hurting my wife, son, and others even more. It’s bad enough that the physical effects are permanent, but at least I can choose to prevent spiritual injury.”

Thank God that very few of us will experience what Steven experienced. His superhuman act of forgiveness should show us that if we open our heart to God’s grace, we too will be able to forgive those who have hurt us and set our lives on the road to freedom. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Hidden Gold

“…we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” 

Romans 5:3-5

When we are in pain, undergoing a trial we see no end to, in financial difficulty, plagued by an addiction, we call upon God day and night. We think, can He hear us? Why is He not answering? Has He abandoned us, 

forgotten us? 

C.S. Lewis wrote that pain is God’s megaphone. “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” God gets our attention through pain because we cannot rely on our own efforts to make things right. Sometimes when we are happy with our life, our hands are too full to accept what God wants to give us. All God’s gifts are worth more than the 

fool’s gold of this world.

Daniel Ritchie “stepped into suffering” at his birth because he was born without arms. He wrote: “God has shouted to me through my pain and reminded me of his truth. As the mocking words of men fell on my heart like an avalanche, God showed me that it is only His words that bring life (Psalm 119:25). It was in my brokenness that I saw God’s true strength as he carried me along. It was in seeing my shattered identity as a disabled boy that I could see the beauty of being a blood-bought son (Romans 8:15). God used my hurt so that he could clearly write the lessons of his grace on my heart and set my affections on him (Psalm 119:67).”

Yes Lord, engrave Your truths in my heart so even in the midst of trial and suffering, I may never think You have forsaken me. God allows afflictions to come into our life. We do not have a choice about that, but we can choose to see it as a gift, and redeem the 

gold hidden in it.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

A Good Man

“When Barnabas arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord.” Acts 11:23-24

June 11 is the Feast Day of St. Barnabas. He was one of the first teachers in Antioch.

Originally named Joseph, he was given the new name Barnabas, when he sold his land in Cyprus to give to the apostles in Jerusalem. There was so much to be done in Antioch, that he asked Paul to labor with him. They preached and taught there for a whole year before returning to Jerusalem. Together they made many converts of Gentiles in many parts of Asia Minor among many other places.

St. Luke, in the Book of Acts, speaks of him as a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. Wouldn't it be great if we were all like St. Barnabas? He was an encourager, and life-giver. We too can strengthen and build up the church by reminding our brothers and sisters in our parishes, communities, churches, to be true and faithful and steadfast to the teachings of God. 

Another thing we can admire St. Barnabas for is how he supported St. Paul. At first Paul was not readily accepted by the Christian community because of course they were wary of him as their fierce enemy. But Barnabas was one of the few who recognized Paul’s conversion as genuine and this paved the way for Paul to evangelize and become one of the greatest Christian missionaries. At the start, Barnabas was the leader and Paul his partner, but Barnabas was such a good mentor, the student soon surpassed him in zeal and passion. 

May we be as nurturing, encouraging, humble and generous as Barnabas! Jesus’ Church needs more brothers and sisters like him during these perilous, confusing times!