Wednesday, August 31, 2022

God’s Garden

"We are God's garden." 1 Corinthians 3:9

This is one of my absolute favorite verses even though I've never taken to gardening. My father took an interest in it when I was young, and he transformed the empty lot beside our house into a beautiful flower garden with brick walkways and meandering paths. We even had a little gazebo and miniature house. There was a lot of pruning and trimming, watering, mulching, and studying which seeds to plant where and when to do it. One had to control weeds, remove the old stalks and leaves and watch out for bugs, fungus and bacteria.

We are very much like plants. God is our gardener and He prunes us and trims us even if He knows it's painful,  sometimes very painful. But like a good gardener, He picks the right time to remove the damaged stalks and rotting foliage that keep us from receiving more of His blessings and to promote new growth. He chose the soil on which we are planted and knows how much water or shade we need. 

Like plants it is very necessary that we get nutrients, and that's why we need to pray and read the Bible. Plants also need supports like a trellis or an A-frame or stakes. We need community around, brothers and sisters to support us and help us to bloom. And weeds! Let's go to Jesus so He can pull out the weeds that distract us, crowding out what's really important in our life! 

Lord, help me to bloom and grow in Your light. Thank You for being my gardener and for taking care of me and my needs! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Bother us!

In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” Luke 4:33-34

"What do you want of us?? Why are you bothering us?? Let us alone!! What business do you have with us??" In other words, "This is my life, get your hands off my life, don't interfere!!"

The unclean spirit KNEW whom he was talking to- Jesus, the Holy One of God. We all know God wants to "interfere" in our life. He wants to help us, redeem us, guide us. But sometimes, we want to be left alone to do what we want. We don't want to change. We don't want to see what needs to be changed IN us!! We are too proud to admit we need to change.

Romans 12:3 reads "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.." I have to confess I deal with this in myself all the time. When I get impatient or annoyed about something or someone, is it not that I am thinking I am too important to deal with this, to deal with incompetence or inefficiency, slow acting, or slow speech, falling in line, or whatever. We have to watch how we treat people, family, office mates, strangers. This is how we show we are learning and growing to be disciples. "By this shall all men know you are My disciples- that you love one another." (John 13:35) Corinthians 13 says that when we love, we are patient, kind, humble, we don't take into account a wrong suffered, we bear all things, we endure!

Yes Lord, bother us! Show us where we need to change!

Monday, August 29, 2022

What Should I Ask For?

“I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” Mark 6:25

This is what Salome, the daughter of Herodias demanded of King Herod after asking her mother for advice, “What should I ask for?” The young girl had just danced for King Herod and his guests. He was so pleased with her performance that he promised to give her ANYTHING she asked for, "even to half of my kingdom!"

Salome was only 12 (according to a Jewish historian) but she must have been sultry and seductive in her movement. I can't imagine a jaded man like Herod being captivated by a cutesy, childish dance.

"What should I ask for?" the child asks her mother, echoing children throughout the ages, in need of guidance and wisdom. And instead of wise counsel, what did she get? Herodias instructs her to ask for John the Baptist's head!

Salome hurries back to Herod and demanded, "I want the head of John the Baptist, RIGHT NOW, ON A TRAY!" She did her mother better! This just shows that when we teach a wrong thing, it escalates. That's the nature of sin. Perhaps that's why it says in Exodus 20:5: "I, the Lord your God, visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation..."

If we want the best for our children, we should dig up any seeds or roots of sin and rebellion in our lives, so that it will not grow into a shrub or tree in the lives of our children!

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Sit in the Lowest Place

“Go sit in the lowest place...” Luke 14:10

I have to admit this is very hard for me to do. I like sitting where I have the best view and where I can hear what is happening well. That is why I usually come early. In Luke chapter 14, Jesus told a parable about a party where invited guests were picking places of honor at the tables. 

Jesus gives very practical advice, instructing, “When you are invited by someone at a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you may have been invited. Then he who invited you both shall come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man’....When you are invited, go and recline at the last place...that he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’ “. 

In the heavenly banquet, I can imagine Mother Teresa having a place of honor. She took care of the poorest of the poor, those who could not give her anything back, those who could not award her any medal, the voiceless, the powerless, those who counted for nothing at all in the world. She gave them value and showed them love. 

Ric Warren talks about the Mother Teresa Principle: “The more you care about the powerless, the more power you have. The more you serve those with no influence, the more influence God gives you. The more you humble yourself, the more you're honored by others.”

This is true of a lot of saints. Many gave away their riches, their positions, to serve others, like Saint Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, and modern day Saint Katherine Drexel, who gave away more than $12 million dollars of her inheritance. They all have places of honor in the heavenly banquet. 

Father, teach me to be more loving, more humble, valuing what and whom You value. May I not feel entitled and self-important. May we learn from Your Son, Jesus, who was meek and humble of heart.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Share Your Master’s Joy

“Come share your master’s joy.” 

Matthew 25:21

Some would say that the Parable of the Talents, where a rich man gives his servants money before going on a trip, is about love. When the rich man comes back, he asks for an accounting of how they invested the money and the servants who increased the amount of money were lauded, “Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in this small matter, take charge of ten cities!” God wants us to share His love and the gifts He has surrounded us with, and when we do, it has a multiplying effect. 

One of the most poignant true stories about sacrificial love was born out of the horrors of the Vietnam war. Mortar rounds landed on an orphanage run by a missionary group in a small village and some orphans were killed, many were wounded. 

An American Navy doctor and nurse arrived in response to a call for help. They found one young girl who was the most critically injured. She would die if she did not receive a blood transfusion. A quick test showed that several of the orphans were a match in blood type. Using pidgin Vietnamese, high school French and sign language, the doctor and nurse tried to explain that they needed a blood donor or the girl would die. 

The orphans stared listening with wide-eyes and after a long time, one little hand came up slowly, dropped down, and went back up again. The little boy named Heng was quickly laid on a pallet, and a needle inserted in his vein. After some time, Heng sobbed and covered his face with a free hand. “Does it hurt?” Heng shook his head, but sobs kept escaping until he cried steadily. His eyes were screwed tightly shut and his fist was in his mouth in an effort to stifle his sobs. 

When a Vietnamese nurse arrived, she talked to him, and Heng stopped crying and a look of relief spread over his face. The nurse explained to the Americans, “He did not understand you. He thought you were going to take all his blood so the little girl could live.” The Navy nurse asked, “Why did he volunteer?”

When the Vietnamese nurse asked Heng the question, he answered simply, “She’s my friend.” 

“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend.” (John 15:13) God has given us so much, the life of His beloved Son. Do we share what we have with others or are we too scared like the servant in the parable, that we keep the love hidden away? Let us not be afraid to love the way Jesus loved, so one day, we can share in His immeasurable joy! 

Friday, August 26, 2022

Keep the Fire Burning

“And the foolish said to the prudent, "Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out." Matthew 25:8

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Come and See

“Come and see.” John 1:46

Philip can be our example when we want to introduce Jesus to someone. He did not get discouraged when Nathanael scoffed and said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Instead, Philip encouraged him, “Come and see.”

All we can do is invite. After Philip prodded Nathanael to meet Jesus, Nathanael could not resist the Lord. And Jesus promised Nathanael that he would see greater things! Well now Nathanael, also known as Bartholomew, is a saint and we celebrate his feast day today. 

We too just need to invite, to plant seeds. It will be Jesus and the Holy Spirit who will do the next step. A young man kept inviting his friend who was just obsessed with basketball to attend a prayer meeting. Because he did not give up, his friend finally agreed and went with him. He met Jesus and now he is a great preacher who has helped many people to turn to God. We will not know where the seeds we plant will end up. We just need to plant. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Jesus the Unseen Guest

“Cleanse first the inside of the cup..." 

Matthew 23:26

I have been guilty of superficial cleaning many a time. When guests are due to arrive, I dump all the clutter in my craft room, and then I am aghast when a kid opens the door, as kids sometimes do, and exposes what I have hidden inside! A "horror" guest would be one who opens drawers and peeks into the kitchen cabinets. But Jesus is always the unseen guest in our "home". He sees what is hidden in our hearts. He sees the clutter. He sees my resentment, my irritation, my impatience, all those smelly things no one else sees!!!

Here in Matthew chapter 23, Jesus is speaking to the disciples about the Pharisees and teachers of scripture. He is quite disgusted that they are hypocrites and that they only "act out" their religion. They are like whitewashed tombs! "They try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside their hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness." Let us make sure that Jesus does not say the same about us! Let us not only clean outside our cups but inside as well!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Hands to Serve, Hearts to Love

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.” Matthew 23:13, 14, 15

According to William Barclay, the Scottish author of a popular set of Bible commentaries on the New Testament, the Talmud enumerates seven different types of Pharisees; six of the seven are bad.
· The Shoulder Pharisee, who wore all his good deeds and righteousness on his shoulder for everyone to see.
· The Wait-a-Little Pharisee, who always intended to do good deeds, but could always find a reason for doing them later, not now.
· The Bruised or Bleeding Pharisee, who was so holy that he would turn his head away from any woman seen in public – and was therefore constantly bumping into things and tripping, thus injuring himself.
· The Hump-Backed Pharisee, who was so humble that he walked bent over and barely lifting his feet – so everyone could see just how humble he was.
· The Always-Counting Pharisee, who was always counting up his good deeds and believed that he put God in debt to him for all the good he had done.
· The Fearful Pharisee, who did good because he was terrified that God would strike him with judgment if he did not.
· The God-Fearing Pharisee, who really loved God and did good deeds to please the God he loved.

These are the men Jesus is speaking to. Although He instructed the Jews to follow what they say, He admonished them NOT to follow what these leaders do. We too are advised not to advertise our righteous deeds, and not to exalt ourselves or seek to sit in the most important places. Instead we are to be humble, and seek to serve others. Mother Teresa said, “Give your hands to serve, and your hearts to love.” 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Whom the Lord Loves

“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord ​​​​or lose heart when reproved by him; ​for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; ​​​​he scourges every son he acknowledges.” Hebrews 12:5-6

We just celebrated a very special little boy’s 2nd birthday. His mama asked what he wanted to do for his birthday and he said he wanted donuts and sprinkles, and he wanted to bake a cake, and blow his candle. Ordinarily, he would not be given sugar to eat, but because it was his birthday, he baked a cake with the help of his papa, auntie and Lola. His little hands grabbed an egg and crushed it into the batter. He was also able to pour a liberal amount of sprinkles into the mix, and got to eat a whole bowl of confectioner’s sugar icing! He was so happy with all the sweets he was allowed to eat! 

We do not expect to be able to do anything we want every day of our lives. When we were children, we were disciplined if our parents wanted the very best for us, just as the Lord disciplines us. My son is already 27 years old, but when he was young, if he did something wrong, he would have a time out and had to stand in the corner. He used to sleep in between Luigi and me when he was still a toddler, and one time in his sleep, he kicked me, and I shouted out in pain. Luigi and I were surprised when he got out of bed and walked to the corner in the dark and stayed there. I appreciated what my son did, although I would not have told him to do so. 

We too should not disdain the discipline of the Lord as we know it is for our own good. We should welcome it. Sin brings consequences and we should not expect to get away with doing things against God’s will unless God has given up on us. God uses our earthly struggles to mold us. Of course God takes no pleasure in afflicting us, but He will do everything to guide us, His beloved children, back to Him. 

Hannah Whitall Smith, a speaker in the 1800s, said, “Look upon your chastening as God’s chariots sent to carry your soul into the high places of spiritual achievement.” Thank You Father, for loving us enough to correct us when we stray.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Nada de Turbe

“I will hear what God proclaims; ​the Lord–for he proclaims peace.” Psalm 85:9

Peace can be very illusive if we allow the anxieties and worries of the world to reign in our hearts and minds. But we are called to peace, it says in Colossians 3:15. Instead of anxiety, we should let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Easier said than done? 

When my mom was diagnosed with tongue cancer, she would sometimes be very restless and anxious. But I noticed that when I read to her from the Bible, or she would listen to preachers on YouTube, she would calm down and God’s peace would strengthen her. All her life, she turned to God and His Word. She read through the Bible from Genesis to the Book of Revelation many, many times. I can say my mom was a strong woman who found her strength in the Lord. 

I think many of us today have feelings of uneasiness and foreboding about the future. We have concerns about our children. We have apprehensions about the leadership of our country, and what will happen in the future. If it is not that, then we stress about our work, conflicts in relationships, finances or health concerns. But we are instructed to cast our cares, all our anxieties, on God for He cares for us in a very real way. (1 Peter 5:7)

My particular favorite promise is found in Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

May we imitate Saint Teresa of Jesus, who wrote, “Nada te turbe”, “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, everything passes, God does not change, He who has God lacks  nothing.” 

Friday, August 19, 2022

I Have Promised

 "Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!" Ezekiel 37:4

There are many dramatic chapters in the Bible but none more dramatic than Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones. The prophet is placed in the middle of a plain with dry bones in every direction. He is asked, "Can these bones come to life?" Whoa! What a question, but Ezekiel knows the perfect answer, "Lord God, You alone know that!" Then God says to him, "Prophesy over these bones! Dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!" If anyone but God said that, it would have been a mockery. But God's Word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword(Hebrews 4:12). God's Word will not return to Him void or with no effect. It shall prosper and succeed wherever it is sent (Isaiah 55:11). 

We do not use God's Word enough. We do not wield it like a sword. We do not expect things to happen when we prophecy over hopeless situations. Dry bones? No job? Cancer? An ailing business? What is any of that to an all mighty, powerful God? 

Lord, may I study Your Word and use it like a sword. You said, "I have promised and I will do it!" (Ezekiel 37:14). May we believe and trust in You no matter how hopeless the situation! 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Fit for a Princess

“My friend how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?" Matthew 22:12

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells a parable about a King who gave a wedding feast for his son. When the invited guests refused to come, he had his servants invite people from the streets. Then he noticed a man not in proper attire and asked him, "My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?"

This reminds me of a wedding I attended. The groom's mother was in an ordinary shirt and pants. My sister Meldy, who is such a stickler for proper attire, spent the whole duration of the wedding thinking whether she should go home and get a gown for the mother to change into! She was sooo bothered!

It is also very important to God that we are properly attired when we get to the heavenly banquet. All of us are invited. We are the people in the streets. We are the people dressed in the filthy rags of sin.

In ancient times, when people could not afford to dress formally enough to meet the King, you went to the Royal Wardrobe and there you would be helped into an outfit that would not insult the King. We ourselves cannot weave any garment beautiful enough to face God in, so we have to be robed with the righteousness of Jesus, washed white by the blood of the Lamb, paid for by Jesus' death on the cross.

Thank you Lord for my 'wedding garment’, fit for a princess!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Abounding Grace

“My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” 

Matthew 20:13-16

This bible passage, Matthew 20:1-16, is all about the mercy and 

generosity of God.

The laborers who came early complained that the master paid them the same wages as those whom he hired to work for the last hour. “These last ones worked only an hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat," grumbled the workers.

If, when we reach heaven, we see a corrupt government official there, or a celebrity who lived a promiscuous life, or an atheist who accepted Jesus on his deathbed, will we feel like the laborers in the vineyard? Will we feel cheated? Will we feel God was unfair? What for? For not giving value to the years we tried to do good, when we chose integrity instead of dishonesty? When in reality, we were free of the shackles of sin and shame! 

"My friend, I caused you no injury,” the master said. Yes, Jesus is free to be generous with the gift of eternal life. Whatever we do for Him it will not ever be enough to deserve a life in heaven with Him and the saints. And we should not feel cheated if we pursued a life with the Lord. There is abounding grace in a life well lived in partnership with our Maker whatever the cost. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Needle’s Eye

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24

There is an urban legend that this verse is about a small gate in Jerusalem called the "Needle's Eye" during the time of Jesus. It is so small that if a man on a camel were to pass through, he would have to get down, remove all the baggage from the camel and drag the camel through, kneeling on its haunches. So for a rich man to enter heaven, he would have to divest himself of his earthly goods, and kneel humbly before God. But there is no such gate in Jerusalem in Jesus' time and so 

Jesus did not mean this.

He literally meant it was impossible for a rich man to get to heaven on his own merit. Wealth was a sign of God's favor in Jesus' time, and even today. So the disciples were astonished, bewildered, exceedingly amazed, dumbfounded, when Jesus flat out said that the wealthy had no chance, zilch, of going to heaven. “So who can be saved?" they asked.

Jesus then says it is impossible for men. It is not only impossible for the rich, but also for the poor. It is impossible for any one. Because we would have to give up not only our wealth, but also our children, our parents, our spouses, our lands, our work. Everything. We would have to put God first. 

But Jesus does not leave us without hope. He said- "With God ALL things are possible." In Ephesians 2:8 we read, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not of your own doing, it is the GIFT OF GOD!" Whew!!!! 

We shouldn't give up on ourselves just because we can't follow Jesus perfectly! Just because we can't give up everything and go to the ends of the earth and spread the Gospel. Just because we get impatient with little things and are ungrateful or cannot really forgive.  Jesus already paid the price for our salvation.  We just need to follow Him day after day, and He will change us slowly but surely. We should not be like the rich young man in Mark 10:17-22, who turned away from Jesus because he could not follow what Jesus said, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” He should have stayed beside Jesus, learned from Him, and perhaps one day, he would get that aha moment and be able to do what Jesus asked. 

Lord Jesus, teach me Your ways and make my heart like yours. 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Most Blessed

“Most blessed are you among women..." Luke 1:42

As baptized believers, each one of us like Mary who carried Jesus in her womb, is capable of bearing Christ to the world. If our eyes were opened to the glory of this truth, we too would rejoice and be humbled in the presence of so holy a vessel as a sister or brother in Christ. 

Holy Spirit, just as You opened Elizabeth's eyes in the presence of Mary, please open our eyes to those who also bear Christ. Help me to honor the potential of each person to be Your presence here on earth. 

C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors, wrote in his book, “The Weight of Glory”, that we’ve never talked to mere mortals. Everyone we know, or know of, our parents, our spouses, our sisters and brothers, our children, our office mates and classmates, the street sweeper, the troll online, the politician, etc., they are not ordinary people. We talk to and deal with immortals every day of our life. 

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.....But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors,” C.S. Lewis wrote. 

How daunting to consider how flippant we are with our lives sometimes. We can waste so many precious minutes on worthless activities or conversations, throw careless hurting words at people, without thought of the impact on our immortal souls. Let us be more heedful of the choices we make each day!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Cloud of Witnesses

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

We’re all fighting hard battles. War weary warriors soldiering on. Some of us are in more difficult struggles than others. Most of the time, there doesn’t seem to be a way out of the battlefield, except through a miracle. But we must never lose hope. We should always hang on. We should always show up. Others have fought and won before us. We should be inspired by those saints who’ve gone ahead of us and victoriously finished the race. One day, God willing, our “exploits” of bravery, fortitude, strength, patience, faithfulness, and perseverance will encourage others as we too join the “great cloud of witnesses”. 

I am reminded of Steve Green’s beautiful song, “Find Us Faithful”, which goes: 

“We're pilgrims on the journey

Of the narrow road

And those who've gone before us line the way

Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary

Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses

Let us run the race not only for the prize

But as those who've gone before us

Let us leave to those behind us

The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives”


The only way we will leave a heritage of faithfulness, is by looking to Jesus and following Him.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

A Clean Heart

A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” Psalm 51:12

Only the Lord can create a clean heart for us. We see all around us signs of a fallen world. God has given us so much. He surrounded us with beauty. But what did we do? Our oceans are filled with plastics and debris. It is heartbreaking to see penguins on top of mountains of trash and turtles deformed from being caught in a plastic 6-pack ring. Instead of rejoicing in human life, people make laws to allow murdering almost fully formed babies in the womb. How ugly can the world get?

It is useless pointing a finger at those who legislate for abortion or those who throw garbage on the streets and rivers. There are always three fingers pointing back at us. There, but for the grace of God, go I. God never gives up on us, and neither should we give up on ourselves or our fellowmen. We need only repent, and ask for the grace to do better. 

When Boyan Slat was 16 years old, he was diving in Greece and he saw more plastic floating in the water than fish. Since then, this aerospace engineering graduate has devoted most of his time to thinking up a way to clean up the ocean.isn’t it so admirable that he didn’t just shrug his shoulders and leave the problem for others to think about? 

Boyan said, “The plastic pollution problem has always been portrayed as something insolvable. The story has always been ‘OK, we can’t clean it up - the best we can do is not make it worse’. To me that’s a very uninspiring message. What I really hope is that the ocean clean-up in this century can be a symbol for us using technology to make things better.”

As of mid 2022, the clean up system dubbed Interceptors have been deployed in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Dominican Republic. Preparations are underway to install in Thailand and Los Angeles.

All of us have a part to play to clean up our corner of the world. Let’s ask God to create in us a clean heart, and join with others willing to make a difference. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Return to Me

“But you were captivated by your own beauty, you used your renown to make yourself a harlot, and you lavished your harlotry on every passer-by, whose own you became.” 

Ezekiel 16:15

In Ezekiel chapter 16, God compares Jerusalem to an adulterous wife. It is very heartbreaking to read, that after God lavished her with love and care, and entered into a covenant with her, she prostituted herself and consorted with other men, and made idols that she dressed in the finery God gave. When I read it through, I realized this is how God feels for us, whom He claims as His own, and loves, when we do not return His love. 

Even if we are unfaithful, God is faithful. Even if God knew beforehand that we would be false-hearted and inconstant, He still rescues us and forgives us. In spite of our sins and unfaithfulness, God says to us, "Return to me, your sins have been your downfall. But only return and ask me to forgive your sins, and I will heal your waywardness and love you freely. I will turn away my wrath and be like dew to you.

You will blossom and bear fruit." 

(Hosea 14:2-10)

Isn’t this what happens with God every time we fall short? Sin enslaves us and into this slave market, Jesus came to pay the full bid price for each of us. This is God saying He loves us, He loves us, He loves us!!! It's a crazy love, an unimaginable love! Imagine a billionaire saying he would exchange his magnificent mansion for your hovel, his unlimited bank account for your zero savings. The Great Exchange! And it has already been offered to us!

Jesus says to us, "I'll take your poverty and give you my riches. I'll take your sin and trade it for my righteousness. I came into your decaying world to give you eternity!"

I’ve been enjoying making gel prints, and using those gel prints to make digital collages on Procreate. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Forgive to Give Freedom

“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite writers and this is what she has to say about forgiving:

“This is hard but healing:


Forgive to give freedom.

Forgive to give yourself the key out, forgive to give what you’ve been given.

Forgive to give what you will need to get a thousand times so you can get to go on. 


Love gives. So live given.

Love is a verb and that verb is give.

You’ve been given so much — so how can you not live given?


Give thanks and live given — this is how you get joy.”

Forgiving is not the easiest thing. I know because just the other day I was grappling with commenting mean words to somebody who did something not even against me but what I felt was against all Filipinos. How much more if he wronged me or a loved one personally? But forgiveness is a decision we have to make each and every day until we get it right. Our Father is all about forgiveness. When we say the Lord’s Prayer we ask that He forgive us as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Sometimes this is impossible and I think of all the survivors of Auschwitz like Corrie Ten Boom, or women who have been raped or abused like Christine Caine, or mothers and fathers whose sons or daughters have been taken from them in the mass shootings in schools in the US. We cannot do it on our own. We need to pull from God’s sea of mercy and allow Him to work in our hearts and minds one day at a time. Sometimes a minute at a time. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Grain of Wheat

Today is the Feast day of St. Lawrence. This Saint was like the grain of wheat in the Gospel for today. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit." (John 12:24)

Perhaps many would say, St. Lawrence lost his life in vain. But I believe the saints and the martyrs are like grains of wheat, seeds of faith planted in the soil of men and women whose hearts' desire is to follow God. St. Lawrence was not a meek man, he was a very interesting character! He was deacon of the Church under Pope Saint Sixtus II at the time Christianity was outlawed. When the Pope was executed, St. Lawrence was then the highest official of the Church. As such, he was tasked to bring the treasures of the Church to the Prefect of Rome, for the use of Emperor Valerian.

St. Lawrence sold the sacred vessels and gave the money to the poor. Then he gathered all the widows, the orphans, the maimed, the leprous, the sick and brought them to the Prefect. “Here are the treasures of the Church," he proclaimed.

The Prefect got furiously angry that he had St. Lawrence bound to a gridiron and ROASTED!!!! There is a legend going around that St. Lawrence quipped, "This side is done, turn me around!"

But what he really said was, “Sheltered under the name of Jesus Christ, I do not fear these pains, for they do not last long.” Tradition holds that after St. Lawrence’ death, many turned to Christ as a result of his faithfulness to God and love for the poor. Yes, truly he was a grain of wheat that died and bore much fruit. May we follow his example in the sacrifices we offer for God and for our brothers and sisters every day. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Show Us How

“Your decrees are my inheritance forever; ​the joy of my heart they are.” Psalm 119:111

I like reading about saints. They were ordinary people who loved God extraordinarily. Because of their love for God, they were able to fear the Lord (which really means to be in awe of Him), love and serve Him. Today is the Feast Day of a Jewish woman who became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She was murdered in the gas chamber in Auschwitz-Birkenau along with her sister Rosa, who was also a 

Carmelite nun. 

St. Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, rejected her family’s Jewish piety and became an atheist at the age of 13. In 1917, a colleague, Professor Adolf Reinach, was killed in the war. When Edith met the the Professor’s wife Anna, she was deeply impressed with Anna’s strong Christian faith and convictions. 

She started reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and became drawn to the Catholic faith. After finishing the book, she  declared, “This is the truth!” She was baptized on January 1, 1922. She was very intelligent and she continued studying and writing. She translated the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas into German. Soon she became a teacher and lecturer around Europe about the role of Catholic women. 

When it became difficult to teach because of Nazi restrictions, she entered the Carmelites as Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She devoted her life to holiness and self-offering even as the Nazis forced her to wear the Star of David over her habit. 

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross herself wrote, “I talked with the Savior and told Him that I knew that it was His cross that was now being placed on the Jewish people; that most of them did not understand this, but that those who did would have to take it up willingly in the name of all. I would do that. He should only show me how.”

Yes, Lord, show us how.