Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

My sisters and I once went to experience an Ion Cell Cleanse when the center was newly opened and the owner treated us to a 30 minute footbath each. According to Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, whose achievements are a mile long, this can help flush away the toxins accumulated from bad eating habits, lack of exercise and stress. At that time, my family certainly needed to detoxify after the hard journey we had together when my dad was sick and eventually left us. 

After 30 minutes, the clean water in the foot bath looked worse than sewage water, and became a mix of dark brown, orange, green, and black sludge!!! Which only meant we had so much poison in our liver, gall bladder, joints, etc.! 

In Acts 14:21, Paul told the disciples in Antioch, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” It is so true that each of us has our own bag of troubles that we, according to Paul, need to carry. We can help each other, encourage and support each other, but ultimately, we each have our own cross to bear. Jesus reassures us in John 14:27 that He leaves us peace. It is not the peace we can find in worldly things, or in the absence of war, or stress, or a quarrelsome person. Jesus’ peace can be found even in the midst of suffering, and war, and deprivation. It is the peace of Easter, the peace of victory. 

We can only have this peace if Jesus, the resurrected Lord, is real for us, is our friend day in and day out, through thick and thin, and in between. He is our very own Ion Cell Cleanse who can rid us of all the poison, anxiousness and sin in our hearts. 

Monday, April 29, 2024

He Will Teach You Everything

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name – He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” John 14:26

It seems amazing to me that the Lord’s chosen disciples who were with Him day and night could not understand what He was teaching them and preparing them for. There are so many passages where it says they could not comprehend what Jesus was talking about. Perhaps they were all scratching their heads in confusion!

What hope is there for us then? The difference is He has given us His Holy Spirit. I looked up what His Spirit does for us. In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised that when He leaves, the Holy Spirit will come and the disciples will receive power. There are verses in Romans which tell us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress and can pray for us. (8:26) Jesus assured His followers that if we love Him and obey Him, we will be given an Advocate, Helper, Comforter, and Counselor, who will never leave us, and will guide us into all truth. (John 14:15-15) The Holy Spirit can also speak in our defense if we are ever caught in a tight place in our work for Him. 

There is no limit to what we can understand if we tap into the power of Jesus’ Spirit! So we should not have any doubts. It is the enemy that sows doubts. Jesus came to do one thing, and He finished it. When He left earth, He sent His Spirit of life, truth and love. That is why nothing is impossible to us. We need only to believe. 

We can see what Jesus’ disciples did after He left them. A bunch of doubters and cowards turned into staunch defenders of the Gospel. Most of them ended up as martyrs for the faith. Today, we are able to do so much more, to reach more people than they ever did. We just need to use His Power, and tap into the gifts of His Spirit! 

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The True Vine

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine grower.” John 15:1

Henry Francis Lyte wrote the hymn, “Abide with Me”. Some verses go: “Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide, the darkness deepens: Lord, with me abide! When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me! 

“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see: O thou who changest not, abide with me!”

Yes, all around may change and decay, but our God changes not. He is always there when we need Him. Nick Charles was a handsome man with a gorgeous mop of hair. He had been a playboy and enjoyed himself before he turned his life over to Jesus, and started peppering his conversations with “God bless you!” From his first job of cleaning rat feces on the floor, he became CNN’s first sportscaster. He got married to his third wife Cory who brought him closer to God, and had a little girl named Giovanna when he found out he had cancer of the bladder. He went the full round of chemo until his hair fell off. When the pain became so unbearable and he was so miserable, he prayed, “God, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to say goodbye to my family, but if it’s time, take me home.” 

What happened was a light shone in the corner of the room, and a figure that could only be Christ, sat beside him on the bed. He said, “Nick, I’m going to call you home but not tonight. Just hang in there.” 

When Nick Charles died, CNN wanted to make a feature about him but couldn’t figure out what to do with the story about Jesus Christ visiting Nick and comforting him, even though it profoundly affected many of the producers and staff. They finally did mention it in passing in the news. 

At the time Nick needed Jesus, He came in a way that profoundly helped Nick. We can be sure if we abide in the true vine, He will come in all sorts of ways when we need Him. 

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Pilgrim Journey

“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” John 14:8

My sister and her husband went on a pilgrimage through the Camino de Santiago twice! The Way of St. James, as it is known in English, is a huge network of pilgrims' ways that leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. Tradition has it that the remains of Saint James the Great are buried there.

The scallop shell, found on the shores of Galicia, came to symbolize the way, and can be found in hundreds of posts and signs along the Camino as one walks or bikes along the trails. The pilgrims look for the shell printed in yellow on a blue background to know for certain they have not lost their way.

We may not know it, but we are each on a pilgrimage. We may be comfortable where we are but we do not belong here. We are all taking our own route to our forever home. So we should also look for signs along the way, to make sure we are not lost. Just as Philip asked Jesus, “Master, show us the Father,” we too should be looking for our Father along the way. Jesus answered Philip, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

Along the Camino de Santiago, the scallop shell, or the Vieira, is the sign the pilgrims look for. In our pilgrim journey, we should always look to Jesus. Those who walk the Camino also carry the shell along with them on their journey. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

I am reminded of Steve Green’s beautiful song 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.

Friday, April 26, 2024

God’s Tapestry

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:1

What is peace? Is it the absence of conflict, of war, of trials?  That is the world’s definition perhaps.  But Jesus’ gift of peace is not “as the world gives”.   I sometimes think that if only I had more faith, if I lived by faith, I would be free of problems, trials and challenges.  But of all the people who lived on earth, is it not true that Jesus had the perfect faith?  Was He ever free of trials and pain?  What He had was peace, and that is what He wants to give us.

In Acts 14, after Paul was stoned by Jews from Antioch and Iconium, Paul and Barnabas encouraged the disciples, saying, “We must undergo many trials if we are to enter into the reign of God.”  There is no escape from the stresses and strains of life.  It is part of the warp and weft of the tapestry God is weaving.  I like to think of God weaving.

I can see only the underside, with all its knots, and the mess of thread with discordant colors.  But all will be revealed at the end, when we will see how beautiful and intricate our tapestry will be.  Much more beautiful than those glorious ones found in the Louvre.  And longer than the Apocalypse tapestry which runs 100 meters and depicts scenes from the Book of Revelation!

Today when we think of art, we think of painting and sculpture most of the time. Hardly do we think of tapestries which were the most valued form of art during the medieval ages.  But from the time of Adam to the present, God’s masterpieces have always been man and his life.  And just as beautiful art needs contrasts of dark and light, our life needs times of sorrow, pain and challenges to bring out the gold threads!  God knows this and wants to give us the gift of peace, the same peace that wrapped around Jesus during His life.  So let us not be troubled by our trials. Let us just abide in Him who is our peace, and let Him do His marvelous weaving work in us!

Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Devil is a Roaring Lion

“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

Not many people believe in the devil today, and that is exactly what this wily enemy wants. He wants us to scoff, “What? The devil? That fictional character our parents used to scare us with?” The more he is hidden in the dark, the more powerful he is. That is where he thrives, in darkness. He likes to manipulate our thoughts, and win in the battle for our minds. 

I read this true story of a man who got stuck in a refrigerator car when all his factory mates went home to celebrate a birthday. He got frantic while pounding on the walls because he believed the refrigerator car was plugged in and he would freeze to death. When he was found the next day, sure enough, the hospital report concluded he died from freezing. The odd thing was the refrigerator car was not even connected to the power supply.

The mind is a powerful thing and the devil knows how to manipulate it. I remember when my late brother-in-law, Jing, used to tell me that thoughts are like a mad dog. If you let it just roam free, it will go all over the place and can wreak destruction. We have to rein it in right away, and keep the leash tight. If we are anxious, depressed, or confused, we should not let our minds wander into places that will makes us even more morose. The Bible says, “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Trust Me

"Whoever puts faith in me believes not so much in me as in Him who sent me..." John 12:44

In another version, we read, "If you trust me, you are really trusting God who sent me." Jesus continues with the words, "Whoever looks on me is seeing Him who sent me." 

It's difficult to trust and believe in someone we do not see or hear. But in Malachi 3:10, God says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. TEST ME IN THIS and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

If we can test Him in our giving of tithes, we can also prove Him when it comes to His other promises. There are warnings in the Bible that we should not test God like the Pharisees did. They wanted to look for a way to trip Jesus up with His answers. But a lot of God's commands come with promises attached to them, and when we obey, it's like putting money in the bank. Obedience brings blessing. 

Father, I pray that I may nurture my little mustard seed of faith. I want to be like Peter who obeyed You when You told him to put out into the deep. Even when he had been fishing all night and caught nothing, Peter obeyed, and was rewarded with abundance. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

My Home is Within You

That's what it says in Psalm 87. His home is within us. He does not need a key.

Am I comfortable with having Jesus within me? Aren't there places where I would rather put up a sign, "Keep out!"

No, Jesus, you can't come into this part of MY house! OOPS! I thought it was Jesus' home? Well, Jesus is a gentleman and He will NEVER barge into places of our lives He is not wanted. Rather sad really because any place He is welcome will be all the better for it!

Monday, April 22, 2024

New Creation

‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’ Acts 11:9

All of us have pet peeves. Someone asked me, "Would you allow a man covered with tattoos to lead worship?" And I said yes I would! I used to go to QC Jail every week, and almost all the men had tattoos, and they prayed and lead worship all the time. Then there's my friend who hates bad grammar and one who even made a song about it. I was thinking that God does not have pet peeves about people. If someone came up to Him and wanted to be His friend, He would accept him. God would make him a new creation.

One of my favorite conversion stories is about the youngest Baldwin, Stephen. Stephen has 18 tattoos, and he was known as the "dumb jock of Hollywood" because of all the, well, dumb things he said and did. In his book, "The Unusual Suspect", he writes of "snorting enough cocaine to throw the entire population of a small South American country into anaphylactic shock." But he and his wife Kennya are now born again Christians and he is an evangelical Christian youth minister. In one interview he claimed, "It's real, it's changed my life, it's transformed my heart, I'm not who I was," Baldwin says. "No longer … do I feel the pressure of, 'how fancy are my shoes? Or what kind of car am I driving? Or how much money do I make?' None of that matters to me anymore … I'm having a daily experience with the spirit of God that's more priceless than anything I've experienced before."

 How did it start? When Kennya was pregnant, the couple hired Augusta, a Brazilian cleaning woman, because Kenya was from Brazil and that's what you do with a baby on the way. Kenya noticed that Augusta was always singing about Jesus and she asked, "Why is every song about Jesus?" And Augusta burst with laughter. "What's so funny?" Kenya asked and Augusta replied, "Quite frankly, I think it's a little bit funny that you think I'm here to clean your house!!!" The story came out that Augusta had a dream about Stephen and his little family. Before she accepted the job, she prayed with her pastor and some church members, and she was told in prophetic word that if she went to work for them, the couple would become believers and be involved in ministry. Now if I had been Augusta, would I have believed that was possible? I would be plenty skeptical! But God had a plan, and He used a Brazilian nanny to reach Stephen and his wife. 

It is God's desire to make us all new creations in Him! It does not matter if we are covered in tats, leprous wounds, or if the wounds are in our heart. God wants us, and He will use a Brazilian nanny, a life threatening disease, a TV show, whatever.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:14

It is no wonder that Jesus used the analogy of sheep and their shepherd to describe His relationship to His followers. When my husband Luigi asked a shepherd if he could feed his sheep, the man said something like, “You can try. That’s the problem you see. I can’t take a day off. The sheep only come to me.” Luigi held the bucket of food and called out to the sheep with no avail. Not one came near. 

In the Catholic Church, today is Good Shepherd Sunday. We celebrate the fact that Jesus laid His life down for us like a good shepherd. He knows each of us by name, knows our idiosyncrasies and frailties, and if we are a good follower, we know and love Him back. 

Thank You Lord, that if we recognize Your voice and follow You, You will lead us to the pasture of everlasting life. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Get Up, Tabitha!

“Get up, Tabitha!” Acts 9:40

Ever since my mom got sick many years ago, I’ve had this desire that God would give me the gift of healing. Like anything in life, I have found that sometimes God gives it to you or one has to practice, practice, practice. 

I started embellishing my prayer journal every day in 2006. I started cutting up magazines and pasting pictures and words on my journal to illustrate a bible verse. Then I started to make stick figures, painted faces, then I traced magazine pictures and painted on my Bible. When I got sick in 2019, and could not easily get to my craft room, I learned digital illustration. It’s a journey and God is there all the time honoring whatever effort we make. I believe the same is true with the gift of healing. 

In the 9th chapter of Acts, we read about the fledgling Christian communities in Judea, Galilee and Samaria.  Peter visited the new followers of Christ to encourage them and I can imagine that many sick were brought to him. In Lydda, he healed a paralyzed man named Aeneas who had been confined to his bed for 8 years. In Joppa, he prayed over a dead woman named Tabitha, and she opened her eyes. 

I do believe that like Peter we have a mission to heal the sick. After all Jesus said to His disciples, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Was He only commissioning the Twelve? Then why did He say in John 14:12-14, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father…If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

If we believe that God doesn’t hear our feeble prayers, we will not attempt to pray over anyone who is sick. But if we persist in praying over anyone sick who comes our way, whether they get well or not, God will meet us where we are. 

In the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18, Jesus teaches that we need persistent faith, faith that won’t give up even if the last person we prayed for died. We need the faith God will gift us with if we press in and on with God, faith that believes God’s Word and expects Him to act. Practice, practice, practice! 

Friday, April 19, 2024

Show Me Your Face!

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Acts 9:4

The Spirit blows where it wills. God does not discriminate. There are “enemies” of God persecuting His people like Paul, who have been called to journey with Him. 

This is the story of a modern day Paul in Iran where many have converted from Islam to Christianity. When Taher, who was well respected as a Haji, one who has been to Mecca as a pilgrim, found out his daughter became a Christian, he became so angry. Then his wife, who was a Haji-eh, came to Christ, he was even more angry. The last straw was when his son accepted Christ. He erupted into a rage, and tried to force his family to turn back to Islam. He beat them and threatened to kill them. His family eventually left him and went abroad. 

In his growing despair and loneliness, he memorized the verses in the Koran, and focused on Allah, serving the god of his fathers. “Please show me your face,” Taher begged. He got disheartened by the silence and began to doubt. In his desperation, he cried, “I will believe in the God who reveals Himself to me." God revealed Himself to Taher in a dream. 

Why does God appear to many Muslims in dreams? “In a survey of Muslim academics, undertaken at the International Islamic University of Malaysia early in the twenty-first century, all the participants reported their belief in the possibility of receiving true guidance from God in their dreams. Many said that they perform rituals before going to sleep with the hope of having true guidance from God in their dreams.” (Sirriyeh2015:5)

Taher relates that in his dream, a man riding a donkey approaches him, gets down and hugs him. Then this man he had never seen before said, "I will clean you from all your sins; you are free. I will give you rest. Believe in Me." Taher asked, "But what will happen if I sin again?" The man repeated, "I will clean all your sins." Then the man left and another came to him, “Do you know the man on the donkey?" Taher answered that he did not, and the second man revealed, "He is Jesus Christ. He cleans your sins." 

Taher woke up, and pondered his dream. When he fell asleep again, the same dream came to him. Waking up a second time, he became afraid. How could he leave Islam after serving Allah for 45 years? He was a Haji! But after he had the same dream a third time, he had no doubts that Jesus Christ was the only true God, and Jesus was calling him! When Taher went to a Christian church, the leaders were a little suspicious that he might be a spy until Taher exclaimed: “I saw Jesus in a dream, I saw his face!”

Taher is now abroad and happily back with his family. God still speaks to the broken hearted and when we seek, we will find. That is His promise! 

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Exciting Time

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

The encounter between Philip, one of the men chosen by the disciples to serve food to the community, and an Ethiopian eunuch is quite dramatic. God orchestrates their meeting, first by telling Philip to go south on a particular road on the desert, then by instructing him to join up with the chariot on which the Ethiopian is riding. 

“Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asks the stranger. “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” There are many things in the Bible that puzzle me, but I know that the Holy Spirit guides us to all truth. If today I do not understand, one day, that particular baffling passage will yield its treasure. In God’s time. Just like the Ethiopian eunuch. God knew it was time for him to learn about Jesus, and He sent Philip to explain the scriptures to Him. It would have been exciting to listen in on that conversation! 

Today, there are so many resources available to us. I like to listen in on the conversion stories on YouTube. I like to ponder on what teachers and preachers like Steve Ray, Brant Pitre, Scott Hahn and so many others, discover. Like the eunuch, we can see clearly that Jesus was already foretold in the Old Testament, that the Eucharist has its roots in Jewish traditions, that all the old covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David find their fulfilment in the new covenant of Jesus Christ. So many exciting conversations to listen in on. We just need to find the time and God will use that to enliven the flame and bring us back to our first love for Him. It is truly an exciting time we are living in!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024


"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.