Sunday, April 30, 2023

God Speaks

“The sheep follow Him, because they recognize His voice." John 10:4

Do we recognize God's voice?

I think He speaks in different ways, and we will never be able to box God in, much less the way He chooses to communicate with us. One night, as we were driving home from a weekend at the beach, I had this urge to pray. First it was because there was a danger we would run out of gas, and when that danger passed, I still had that strong compulsion to pray. I prayed that angels surround our van, that God would thwart any evil intentions of bad men, that we and my sister's family would reach home safely, that we would not be in any accident. I prayed in tongues. I prayed for persecuted Christians, etc, etc.

Back safely at home, when I was about to fall asleep, my husband Luigi asked me, "Did you have a good sleep?" as he thought I had been dozing in the van while he was driving. "No," I answered, "I was praying almost the whole time."

"Then you heard the loud noise?" 
"I did. I thought a rock hit our van." 
"That was a man with a gun," he said. 
"Whaaat!!" He then told me that there was this SUV that he went ahead of last night. After that, the driver kept trying to squeeze in front of our van but couldn't. He even turned on his flasher. Then, when our vehicles were caught in traffic on a bridge, the man got out and Luigi saw that he had a gun. Then the gun SLIPPED from his hand, and the man scrambled to find it in the dark. When the vehicles started to move, the man ran toward our van and hit it hard with his fist twice!

After Luigi told me what happened, I realized that sometimes God gives us this need to pray for protection. When we do pray, we don't even realize what dangers we avert through prayer. I think God allowed this incident because I had been praying for protection for those being persecuted in the Middle East, and sometimes I think to myself, "Am I helping even a tiny little bit? Maybe this is all useless!" But God showed me that I should persist even if I do not see any results!

Yes God speaks. It doesn't have to be an audible voice, or a whisper. He constantly speaks to us in many different ways. Let us be like sheep who know the voice of our Shepherd, and listen and watch for when He speaks for He will if we but be vigilant and wait.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Don’t Be Saul!

“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?" Acts 9:4

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

In Syria today, there are about 603,000 Christians. They are being persecuted by modern day Sauls who want to exterminate them. Christians have lived in Damascus for more than 2000 years but now they are being driven away from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of Christians in Syria are being kidnapped, tortured, and even crucified and beheaded. There are still a few Christians who speak Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Their churches, St. Elias Church and St. Grace Church in the Christian village of Maaloula near Damascus are under attack. The congregations have found themselves caught in the middle of warring factions and rebels have fallen into Islamic terrorism. 

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

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

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Living Water in the Desert

“Do you really grasp what you are reading?" "How can I," the man replied,"unless someone explains it to me?" Acts 8:30-31

Philip was one of the seven men, along with Stephen, who were chosen to distribute bread to the widows and the community. Like Stephen, it was important to him, not only to give bread, but also the bread of life. In this chapter of Acts, he is instructed by an angel to go to the desert. There he meets an Ethiopian eunuch, a treasurer of the Queen of that country. This man was reading Isaiah and Philip asked him if he understood.

 "How can I unless someone explains it to me?" the man answered. Philip then took the opportunity to tell him about Jesus. “Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him,“ we read from the same passage of scripture. How blessed this Ethiopian man was that God sent someone to teach him! 

Back then, it took a movement of the Spirit for someone to know about Christ. The Holy Spirit directed Philip to go to the desert. The Spirit told him to catch up with the man's carriage. After the encounter the Spirit snatched Philip away and the eunuch saw him no more!

But today, there is so much opportunity to read the Scriptures, to understand it, to know more. I love listening to preaching on YouTube, and reading teaching from books. I can search about almost any topic about the word of God and like the eunuch, find living water in the desert!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Bread of Life

"I am the Bread of Life." John 6:35 and John 6:47

This is one of the "I AM" statements of Jesus that we can't ignore. We have to decide if this man who claims to be the the bread of life, meaning "essential" for our existence, is saying what He knows to be truth. Is he a liar? The worst kind, who knows what he is saying is false but desires to deceive others? Or is he delusional, crazy, living his own reality? He could also be a fool, couldn't he? We could say "I like Jesus. I admire Him. I like reading His words. He is wise, compassionate, but I don't believe I have to obey Him. He's not God!" Well then, who is he? Isn't He who He claims to be?

Jesus said in John 6:32: "For the bread of God is that which COMES DOWN FROM HEAVEN, and GIVES LIFE TO THE WORLD." So of course, the people hearing that said: "Lord ALWAYS GIVE US THIS BREAD!!!" They were probably looking for manna, like the bread that fell from heaven during Moses' time every single day! But Jesus is much more, much much more than manna. This is what the first Christians believed: 

Ignatius of Antioch wrote in his Letter to the Romans in A.D. 110, “I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire His blood, which is love incorruptible”.

And Origen wrote, “Formerly there was baptism in an obscure way . . . now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: ‘My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink’ [John 6:55]” (Homilies on Numbers 7:2 [A.D. 248]).

If we don't believe what Jesus said, then we will always be hungry. Always be searching. But you see, that's OK. Jesus said, "If you seek, you will find." (Matthew 7:7) If we need to, let us just keep seeking, keep asking, keep looking. Don't stop. One day we'll be able to decide and know for ourselves if this man is who He claims to be! It’s the most important quest of our life. It determines where we will live forever. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Signs and Wonders

“And these signs will accompany those who have believed..." 

Mark 16:17

Today is the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist. He took Jesus' words to go into the world and proclaim the good news to all creation very seriously, even if he probably did not hear this from Jesus Himself. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys, and he wrote down the stories of Peter in the 2nd Gospel. It is probable that he was the founder of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt and its first bishop. He was martyred there. He died while being dragged through its streets.

Jesus said in Mark's narration that signs would follow those who believed Him. This is so intimidating. We can use His name to expel demons, we can speak entirely new languages, we can safely hold serpents, we will be able to drink poison and not die, and when we lay hands on the sick, they will recover. These signs followed the Eleven as they continued Jesus' work. They would follow us too if we would just believe and do it. Most of the time, we are too timid to lay hands because what if nothing happened? 

What would have happened if the  Old Testament prophets were too timid? James wrote in his only epistle that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently...(5:17). Peter was a man with a nature like ours, Jonah, even Moses who needed someone to speak for him. Yes, there is hope for us, if we believe, pray fervently, and go out and do His work. We can be Jesus' hands and feet. We have HIS Spirit!

Monday, April 24, 2023

Walk Hand in Hand with God

“Do not work for food that perishes...” John 6:27

Jesus said this after feeding 5000 people with loaves and fishes. These same people followed him, getting into boats to look for Him. Jesus is the only human with the unique perspective of literally seeing with God’s eyes the difference between perishable bread and His Words, the bread of life. 

A preacher tells the incredible story of Hien Pham, his interpreter, when he spoke to the troops in Vietnam. After Vietnam fell, Hien was accused of working for the CIA and incarcerated. He was forbidden to read anything but writings of Marx and Engels in Vietnamese or French. He was indoctrinated that there is no God day after day after day. One night he decided, “Tomorrow I am going to live as if there is no God.”

The next day he was assigned to clean the dirty, smelly latrines. He covered his mouth and nose as he mopped up the toilets. As he was about to throw out one bucket, he noticed a piece of paper in English. He surreptitiously cleaned it and put it in his pocket. That night when all was quiet, he took it out and read it. It was a page from Romans 8: “And we know that all things work together for good for them that love God.” No verse was more relevant for him that day and he fell to his knees. The next day he volunteered to clean the latrines again. Each day he would find a page from the Bible, clean it and read it eagerly at night for his devotions. It turns out the Commander had been given a Bible which he used for toilet paper.

When Hien was eventually released, he and 53 other people decided to build a boat and escape. A few days before they were about to leave, four fully armed Viet Cong arrived and interrogated him. He insisted he had no plans of escaping. When the four left, he asked forgiveness from God for the lie and promised to tell the truth if they came again. 

A few hours before he and his companions were to board the boat, the four Vietcong came and asked him again, “You’re trying to escape, aren’t you?” “Yes,” Hien Pham admitted, “Are you going to kill me?” “No,” they whispered, “we want to go with you!”

So all fifty-eight escapees set out. In the high seas, there was a storm and the boat almost capsized but the four Vietcong were the best mariners they could have wanted and they all safely reached Thailand. 

Hien said when he was finally in the US, “You know you always think you’re going to manage it your own way. It never works. The most important thing is to find intimacy with God, and He will guide you and take you through safely in your journey as you walk hand and hand with Him. When everything comes together, you have wonder, truth, love, and security. That’s what gives life meaning, and you’ll find only God is big enough to do that for you.”

Sunday, April 23, 2023

God’s Word is Alive!

“Were not our hearts burning within us...?" Luke 24:32

Jesus is alive! That's what we shout every Easter. He is risen! But in a very real way, His Word is alive too! "For the Word of God is ALIVE and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires."

When I was in High School, some Gideon missionaries came and distributed Bibles. I still have it, with the date written on the front page. January 27, 1971.  To receive one, we had to make a promise to read it every day. I promised because the Bible was so cute, and I did not have one. So I started reading a chapter a day until I got to John 12. In my little Bible, there is a verse encircled with a question mark. "The one who loves his life will lose it, but the one who hates his life in this world will preserve it to eternal life”. Well, I LOVED my life, and I could not understand why I would lose it because I loved it, so I STOPPED reading the Bible! The Words certainly exposed my innermost thoughts and desires! At that time, I was not willing to even explore further what the verse meant. 

Then when I got older, I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit during a Life in the Spirit Seminar. After that, I would read and read the Bible. I would underline almost all the verses with my yellow highlighter or a ballpen. My old Bible is full of lines and notes all around the margins. I could not get enough of God's Word and it really spoke to me. The Words would jump out of the Bible. 

In the story in Luke 24, two of the followers of Jesus were walking to Emmaus when Jesus joined them. They did not recognize Jesus at first, but while Jesus explained the scriptures to them, their hearts burned. In the same way, if the Spirit of Jesus is with us while we read the Bible, the Word comes alive and full of power. Lord, may Your Word burn within me, and transform the way I think and act. Holy Spirit, teach me and help my faith grow!

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Jesus, Help Me Grow My Faith

“See, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death…” 

Psalm 33:18-19

I was listening to Heidi Baker preach, she always has such fantastic stories. Heidi has been a missionary in Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, since 1995. At first they worked with orphans and abandoned street kids and eventually moved on to found Bible schools, medical clinics, primary schools, well drilling, evangelistic and healing outreaches in many remote villages of Mozambique. 

She told this story in the Prayer and Presence Conference last year. She was one of the translators in a prayer meeting in Africa. The small, old lady testifying was speaking in Makonde, a language spoken by an ethnic group in southeast Tanzania and Northern Mozambique. Someone else would translate to Portuguese and Heidi would translate to English. 

The old lady started out by saying, “My husband died and I was super happy about that. I’m rejoicing!” So Heidi as the third translator verified if that was what the old lady was really saying and it was! She thought why was this testimony not screened? She was cringing inside. Meanwhile the old lady went on, “I hated him! I hated him! He beat me! But I came in here last week, someone hugged me so I thought I should pray for my dead husband, so he got up and here he is. Lead him to Jesus now!” Pandemonium. The old lady was a brand new believer, and did not know anything, did not even know that this was a big miracle. They all prayed for the husband who said in a loud voice, “I will never beat her again!” 

God met the old lady’s simple faith and answered her prayer. She wasn’t this awesome anointed lover of God, just someone who believed in the power of Jesus, that He can deliver from the power of death. God did it and it’s a testimony for people around the world that God can do anything for anyone. Jesus, help me to grow my faith! 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Whom Should I Fear?

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

An Indonesian priest came over to pray over me some time ago. He is the only priest I know who goes out into the streets and marketplaces to evangelize. He invites people to go to Church. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they put a knife on his neck. He used to do it back in Australia, and 6 men harassed him and his companions. One threatened to kill him, and while he had the knife pressed to his neck, he said, “Don’t you know that God loves you so much?” To his surprise, the man crumpled up and cried. 

After fasting and praying for several weeks, Father and his companions went back again. The same men approached them and they were able to invite them to Church. Eventually, three of them became Catholic. 

The world is full of things that look and feel frightening. We can be anxious about many things. The future of our country, our world, can look very bleak indeed. Personal problems can seem overwhelming. That’s why we need to have God’s perspective when we look at the world we live in. The priest could have been tempted to punch the man who threatened him, but he saw him through God’s eyes and knew how much God loved him. Why should he fear this man? 

Problems like a debilitating sickness, losing a job, a broken relationship, etc., are devastating, no doubt about it. But if we let God light our way, and find our refuge in Him, His grace will envelope us. He has many gifts for us, if only we trust Him with our life. I know this to be true. 

Thursday, April 20, 2023


“We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

Many people today obey man rather than God for different reasons- political expediency, political correctness in the name of tolerance, money, popularity, convenience, selfishness, etc. The apostles were different. Even in the face of death, arrest, or jail, they stood their ground.  “We must obey God rather than men!” Where did they get their courage and strength?

They knew Jesus, they were witnesses, and they had the helper Jesus sent, the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people think it is easier to follow the ways of the world. An unwanted child in the womb? Get rid of it. A tax problem? Give grease money. Caught in dilemma? Lie. Lie. Lie. Follow the path of least resistance. It is not easy to obey God’s laws. That is what the world wants us to think. But that is only when God is out of the equation. 

God is bigger than our problems, our dilemmas, any trouble facing us. I confess that I can be anxious about even the most absurd things. Then I stop short and go back to God’s promises and I can relax when I obey Him. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6) “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). 

Like the Apostles, we can know Jesus by delving into the Bible, talking to Him, listening to Him, and following His wise ways. And with the Holy Spirit, we can be victorious and obey Him rather than men. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Oh How He Loves Me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Heavenly Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 17, 2023

Born Again

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

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

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

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

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


“Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!” John 20:27

Like doubting St. Thomas, I should be called doubting Patsy! Many times I have to deal with my lack of faith, and I resort to the father’s prayer in Mark 9:24, “I believe, help my unbelief!” And I know Jesus will help us because, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

We can pray that like St. Thomas, Jesus will meet us where we are and show us His face and His wounds so our faith will grow. St. Thomas’ faith became so strong that according to tradition, he preached about Jesus all over up to India, until he was martyred and buried in Mylapore! 

"Throughout his journeying, St. Thomas took with him the firm belief that just as He did for him, Jesus will do whatever is necessary for each person to come to faith." (Word Among Us) 

This weekend I attended a retreat and heard many testimonies about what can happen if we have expectant faith. Even when we have doubts! Bobby Quitain, a lawyer who gave up his practice to become a preacher, told us of one time he was asked to speak to a big group of businessmen. He was quite dismayed because it was raining hard and the rain hitting the galvanized iron roof made it difficult to hear and understand what was going on. Before it was his turn to speak, he sensed God saying to him, “Call the leaders to the back of the stage and together pray for the rain to stop.” Although Bobby was hesitant, he decided to obey. At the back of the stage, they asked God to put a stop to the rain. When Bobby took the microphone, it stopped raining. Then when he ended his talk and said something about an outpouring of blessings, the rain fell in torrents! Bobby felt God’s hand in orchestrating that drama! 

We need not be timid! Even with all our doubts, Jesus is journeying with us!

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Easter People

“…they refused to believe it." Mark 16:11

The writer of the Gospel of Mark is John Mark, who traveled with the apostle Paul. When he settled in Rome, he wrote down Peter's recollections of Jesus' life. The last chapter of his writings are a short summary of what happens after Jesus' death, 

starting from when the women discover the empty tomb. 

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

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

On the contrary, right after rebuking them, He says, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to everyone, everywhere." I can imagine Jesus being frustrated with a lot of us! We are being given so much! We are entrusted with so much treasure in His Word. What do we do with it? But then I know, because I see it in my own life, that no matter how much I fail, Jesus never gives up on me. He still gives and gives and gives! Every day, He opens up His treasure chest. And every day, we still get a new chance to believe in Him, and become His Easter people of hope and generosity! 

Friday, April 14, 2023

It is the Lord!

“It is the Lord.” John 21:7

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 13, 2023

It is I!

“Look at my hands and feet, that it is I myself.” Luke 24:39

Jesus appeared to His disciples, and followers several times. It is plausible that He appeared many more times than what is written in the Gospels. After all, in John 21:25, John the disciple attests that Jesus did and said so much more than what he wrote down, that if everything was written in detail, the whole world would have no room for all the books! 

In one of those occasions when Jesus showed Himself, He ate and drank with His followers, even showed His hands and feet. “Touch me,” He invited. He spent time with them to open their minds to understand the scriptures, from the writings of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. No wonder they overcame their fear and were ready to go forth and proclaim the Good News! Atheists claim that all the appearances of Jesus after His death were mere hallucinations. How could many have the same hallucination, and how could a figment of the imagination produce such stalwart and determined men and women willing to die to defend their faith? 

Jesus was single minded in His mission. He spent all that time after His death to commission His followers to “Go forth to the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” If we are His true believers, that is what we must do. Father, may we spend time to study Your Word so You can make it come alive in our hearts! 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Rejoice, Easter People!

“Were not our hearts burning inside us?” Luke 24:32

After the horrendous crucifixion on Good Friday, two of Jesus’ disciples walked to Emmaus. They were conversing and debating for much of what happened was confusing and dismaying to them. A stranger came and joined them. They did not know it was Jesus, and after they recounted what had happened with downcast spirits, Jesus admonished them, “Why do you find it so hard to believe all the prophets wrote in the scriptures? Wasn’t it all clearly prophesied by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering His time of glory?” Then, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures. I would have liked to be in on that conversation and take down notes! 

“Genesis to Jesus”, a 12-part series of St. Paul Center, is a journey through the Old Testament to the New. It is a view of our salvation history, God’s love for us, from the time of Adam, through to the time of Noah, Moses, Abraham, and King David to Jesus, the new Moses and the true son of Abraham and David. It is amazing how the Old Testament foreshadows the life and death of Jesus. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus would have told Cleopas and the other disciple some of these parallels. 

Just as Abraham was asked to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and Isaac had to carry the wood upon which he would be sacrificed up Mount Moriah, God the Father gave His only beloved Son for atonement of our sins. Like Isaac, Jesus had to carry the wood of the sacrifice, His cross, up to Calvary. When Isaac asked his father, “What will we sacrifice?”, Abraham answered, “God will provide Himself the lamb.” Just as Abraham received his son back from a sentence of death three days after the command was given, because it was a three day journey to Moriah, so Jesus rises on the third day. There is so, so much in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Kings, etc. that have parallels in Jesus’ life! It is amazing!!!! 

In Christ, all God’s promises to Abraham, Moses and David are fulfilled. We now have a New Covenant and we can claim God’s promises for ourselves. Truly, if we realize how hard God worked and is working for us to be together with Him in His Kingdom, we will be humbled. Rejoice, Easter people, our King is risen! He is risen indeed!

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

I Have Seen the Lord

“I have seen the Lord!” Mary went and announced to the disciples. (John 20:18)

We may think we have very few occasions in which to proclaim this. Some will even say they have never seen the Lord. I know someone who was visited by Jesus when she was young and sick in bed. And then there is the star sportscaster, Nick Charles, who died of bladder cancer. He too was visited by Jesus who sat with him while he was struggling with pain. “It wasn’t a hallucination,” he said. He told Jesus he was ready to go home, but Jesus said, “Not yet.”

I like the story in 1 Kings 19:11-13. The awesome prophet Elijah was told by the Father to ‘ “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.’ When Elijah heard the gentle whisper, he knew it was the Lord. Usually we will hear the Lord and experience Him when we are waiting in silence. He cannot come if we are surrounded by noise and busyness all the time. 

I saw a Facebook post of Mel Gibson talking to a bloody and battered Jim Caviezel, who acted the part of Jesus in the blockbuster movie, “The Passion of the Christ”. Mel Gibson looked like he was having a deep conversation with Jesus. The thing is, Jesus is always waiting for us to talk to Him. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) That is a promise we should claim again and again. 

We should carve out time to make a friend of Jesus who is willing to get bloodied and battered for us! If we open the door every day, one day we will say with excitement, “I have seen the Lord and it was awesome!”

Monday, April 10, 2023


“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.” Matthew 28:8

After the Sabbath, it was still dawn when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. What they found was inexplicable, the heavy stone was rolled away, and an angel whose appearance was like lightning, said to them, “Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” 

The resurrection of Jesus? Fact or fiction? One would think that most skeptics would debunk Jesus’ resurrection with theories like mass hallucination or the idea that He did not really die, but they can’t. Our belief in Jesus’ resurrection is based on eyewitness accounts written by men willing to die for it. Those men, Peter, James and John, knew the truth. They saw Jesus. They preached it, and they were able to convince so many others by the power of their conviction. St. Paul, a skeptic, became a Christian three years after Jesus’ death. 

Bart Ehrman, a very well known skeptic, a non-Christian, says, "Paul got to interview Peter and James. I'd like to interview Peter and James. This is as close to eye witness testimony as we can get. It's very close to eye witness testimony.” 

Another proof of the resurrection is the gospel account tells us that WOMEN discovered the empty tomb. Women in those times couldn’t give a testimony in court. They were second class citizens. They were not considered credible witnesses. If the story was made up, it would never have included women as the first to be at the scene. And then there were the radical transformations of Peter, who went from coward to a champion of the truth, James who thought Jesus was crazy to the leader of the Jerusalem Church, and countless others martyrs of the faith. 

God made sure that what we believe in is based on defendable facts. There is so much more evidence about Jesus and His life, death and resurrection, than there is about Julius Caesar and Alexander! Yes, Jesus is risen! Alleluia! 

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Because He Lives

“He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.” Matthew 28: 6

Yesterday afternoon I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ again. I had to close my eyes many times when Jesus was being scourged and mangled by the cruel guards with the flagellum aculeatum. These leather whips would tear the flesh of the victim and weaken him to prevent any sort of resistance to his being crucified. I felt like crying with Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene when I saw what they were doing to Our Lord. 

During our Easter Vigil mass last night, after the many readings and songs, when a glorious Jesus was finally revealed behind the stone that was rolled away, my joy leaped in quiet confidence. Yes, my Saviour is alive. He is risen, and He is with us! 

The revelation of Easter, Resurrection Sunday, is not something we should keep for ourselves. This is what Father Herb emphasized in last night’s homily. We should share it, even with strangers, because we will never know whom it will impact. And he told us a story which happened in 1971 when he was in Germany giving retreats and counselling. An American soldier knocked at his door late one night  and said, “Father, I don’t have a problem. I want to share with you the joy that I have in my heart because Jesus is alive.” Then he explained how Jesus became alive for him through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. That led Father Herb to research and study about the Charismatic renewal. It was instrumental in his being baptized in the Holy Spirit himself, and getting involved in the renewal in Germany, the US, and here in the Philippines. Even in a way, our community, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, The Joy of the Lord Community, was formed, and many other communities after that, because a soldier that Father Herb does not remember the name of, took the time to share his joy and peace. We do not know the far reaching effects of a simple sharing. 

Because Jesus’ tomb was empty, we too have our own pilgrim journey, our own stories to tell. We too, like Mary, like Peter, have a commission to bring the joyful news of the resurrection to others. Everyone has to know the truth that we can rely on all His promises, all of the promises in the Old Testament. Because He lives, we too shall live! The same power that raised Christ from the dead can raise dead marriages to life, dead relationships, dead careers, dead hopes, dead dreams... There is resurrection power available for us who believe! 

Saturday, April 08, 2023

Blessed Rest!

“Let us strive to enter into that rest.” Hebrew 4:11

It’s been a pretty hectic few days. Last Wednesday, Luigi, my husband, left with a list of what to buy for our Seder meal and Josh, my son, prepared butter chicken. On the morning of Maundy Thursday, I prepared haroseth, mixing apples, raisins, walnuts, almonds, casuy, cinnamon, and grape juice in a bowl. At a Seder meal, haroseth symbolizes the mortar which the Israelites used to bind the stones and bricks in their back breaking work for their Egyptian masters. Haroseth has been a symbolic part of the Jewish Passover for at least 2,000 years! 

At 3:30 pm, we prepared the Seder meal plates, using bones from goats we’ve accumulated through years of celebrating Seder, bitter herbs, the haroseth, eggs, salt water and unleavened bread. At about 4 pm, our family started the Seder, with the youngest boy, the 2 1/2 years old son of my niece, asking the questions in a hilarious way. He even stopped to ask what the word festivities meant! Then we had a special meal. Then on Good Friday we attended a whole afternoon’s recollection.

Saint Augustine once said in his homily: “Of ourselves we had no power to live, nor did He of Himself have the power to die. In other words, He performed the most wonderful exchange with us. Through us, He died; through Him, we shall live.” Live! 

One of the gifts of real living that God wants to give us is the promise of rest. In Hebrews 4:1, the writer says, “God’s promise of entering His place of rest still stands.” Today, Holy Saturday is a day of rest after three days of blessed busyness. There is no mass today until the Easter vigil tonight. So we wait with the disciples, with Jesus’ mother, with all the faithful. Jesus’ body lies in the tomb, but we know in faith, that we do not wait in vain. Today, like all the times we wait for God’s answer to our prayers, we wait in hope and faith. God is working. Even if all others see is the tomb, we know the tomb is empty and our Savior lives. We can rest gratefully in that truth.

Friday, April 07, 2023

Behold Your Mother

Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother... When Jesus saw His mother there and the disciple there whom He loved He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son." Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. 
John 19:25-27

How important was it to Jesus that we see Mary as our mother? So important that even when He was in pain, barely hanging on to life, Jesus says to Mary, “Woman, behold your son.” Then He assigned His mother to John, His beloved disciple. “Behold, your mother,” and the disciple took her with him into his home. 

Mary has a unique role in our salvation history. She is our mother, the mother of all the faithful. She is our example, a true and faithful disciple of the Lord, who obeyed God and embraced her calling, no matter how difficult and painful. When Jesus told the crowd, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother,” (Mat.12:49-50), I am sure He meant her to be at the top of the list of those followed God’s will. She never took a step away from obedience to the Father’s will, no matter how much love and sacrifice were required. 

She is the “woman” foreshadowed in the first Messianic prophecy in the Book of Genesis: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.” (Genesis 3:15) She is the “woman clothed with the sun” in Revelation 12, who is victorious over the evil dragon who waits to devour her son who is destined to rule over all the nations. She is also the “woman” who asked Jesus to perform His first miracle even when He said it was not yet time. (John 2:1-11) 

Always, always, Mary will point us to Jesus. As our mother, she will always say, just as she told the servants at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Beauty for Ashes

“…beauty for ashes...” Isaiah 61:3

This is one of the most beautiful promises in the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah’s ministry spanned 60 years and four kings. He lived through war and the destruction of Israel. But his prophecies were always about rescue and restoration. 

“ provide for those who grieve in Zion, a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness in place of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” When Jesus went to the synagogue on a Sabbath, he read these same verses from the passage of Isaiah. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Jesus rolled up the scroll and sat down. “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

For hundreds of years, the Jews had been waiting for their Messiah. They expected a King in resplendent robes with a mighty army. Jesus came in peasant garb and sandals and a walking stick. Today He walks among us, and many people still ignore His presence. He may be the beggar with a misshapen face on the overpass. He may be the autistic child in the corner shunned by his classmates. He may be one of the 5000 prisoners in the overcrowded jail. He may be anyone who needs us to bring him glad tidings and good news. 

Before Jesus left, He instructed, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.” If we obey, we will have the joy of giving beauty for ashes, gladness instead of  mourning, thanksgiving instead of despair. 

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Stand Up for Jesus

“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" 
Matthew 26:25

As we near the climax of the Lenten season, we accompany Jesus as He journeys toward His crucifixion.

While they were eating the Passover, He reveals, “One of you will betray me.” Judas asks, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Peter then bravely pronounces, “Even if everyone else has fallen away from you, I will never fall away.” Jesus had to disillusion him and told him, “Amen I say to you, that in this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (Mt. 26:34) 

Sometimes we are like Judas, betraying Jesus when we sin against Him. Sometimes we are like Peter, desiring with all our heart to lay down our life for the Lord, and then denying Him to others with our words and actions. Are we brave enough to stand up for Jesus? 

We have to build up our faith because the time is coming when we will have to be brave just to stand on the side of truth and righteousness. During the Holocaust, a Pastor is mentioned in Corrie ten Boom’s story. When the ten Boom family was helping to save a Jewish baby from being killed, the Pastor dissuaded them asking how could they put their lives in danger for one baby. “You will all be killed!” he warned them.

Corrie’s 85 year old father Casper answered, “It would be an honor to die for God’s ancient people!” Casper and his family continued to aid the Jews to escape until they were arrested. He died in Scheveningen Prison 10 days after his arrest. Casper ten Boom and his family had a faith that sees beyond suffering, pain and trials. Do we?

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

That One is Me!

“One of you will betray me!" John 13:21

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

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

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

Monday, April 03, 2023

The Oil in the Alabaster Box

“That perfume was worth a small fortune." John 12:5

I like the retelling of the story of Mary of Bethany and her alabaster jar sung by Lillie McCloud. She is able to capture the poignancy of the moment when Mary pours this precious oil, this expensive perfume on Jesus' feet. Mary's offering was worth a year's wages, 300 denarii we are told, and came from far away, a place in Northern India. Was Mary so rich that she could afford to just give this away? But she broke her beautiful container to get every ounce of that ointment to wash Jesus' dirty feet with. And she wiped it with her long unbound hair. Why?

The song goes, "Though she spoke no words, everything she said was heard, as she poured her love for the Master from her box of alabaster. I've come to pour my praise on Him, like oil from Mary's alabaster box...I can't forget the way life used to be. I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound and I spent my days, poured my life without measure into a little treasure box I'd thought I'd found. Until the day Jesus came to me and healed my soul with the wonder of His touch. So now I'm giving back to Him all the praise He's worthy of. I've been forgiven and that's why I love Him so much!" 

Listen to the song here:

Do we realize how much God loves us that we are willing to respond to Him with an extravagant love? A love that costs us something? Are we aware of God's forgiveness and mercy that we desire to be wildly generous and give God the best of us, our "first fruits"? In John 12:3, it described that the whole house was filled with fragrance. Although Mary did not say anything, every one who was there (except Judas!) knew that Mary was offering a pure worship to Jesus. 

Lord, I am so unworthy, and so lacking in gratitude. As the Lenten season comes to a climax this week, help me to see Your face more fully, and the sacrifice You offered on the cross for me. Help me to love You with a wildly generous love, the same love You have for me! I do not deserve this love Lord, but You surround me with it! Thank you Lord!!!!