Monday, December 18, 2017

Our True Home

...and from all the lands to which I banished them, they shall again live on their own land.” Jeremiah 23:8

I find the modern history of God’s chosen people fascinating. It tells the continuing story of the relationship of God with His people. 

Here is a quote from Charles Krauthammer - The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998: “Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.”

God keeps His promises, no matter how impossible! After the Jews were exiled in 70 CE by the Romans, they continued to live the way of life God established for them, and they continued to pray that they would be able to return to the Promised Land. In 1948, the Jews were able to reestablish sovereignty over Israel under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion. 

The Jews underwent a lot of persecution. Some Jews believe that had there been no anti-Semitism, massacres, assimilation, had there been no Holocaust that murdered 6 million Jews, there would be 100-200 million Jews today. As it is, there are only about 6.5 million Jews in Israel today. 

Christians face severe persecution in many parts of the world at present. According to the US Dept. of State, “Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.” We do not belong here on earth. The readings of Advent are all about waiting and longing for our true King and our true Home. One day we will be called home, and live in our own land. God always, always keeps His promises. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017


“My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord...” Luke 1:47

Today is Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice”. Indeed we, like Mary, have much to rejoice about.  Just like Mary, our simple “Yes” to God will open many doors. Today let us spend time thanking God that He rescued us out of the muck and grime of sin and gave us hope. He gifted us with a new set of Ephesians 6 armor, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, so we will be able to stand firm against the ancient enemy who wants to steal every ounce of joy we have. 

By His mighty power at work in us, 

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20) All that power and promise is like a potent seed that when dropped into the soil of our waiting hearts, will burst out, and bloom and flourish! 

Yes, Lord! May my very being proclaim Your great love, mercy, and grace for all mankind! 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Waiting in the Lounge

“Oh that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have peace flowing like a gentle river.” 
Isaiah 48:18

God did not create us for an easy life. But He did create us for significance and purpose. Peace comes when we live aligned with God’s plan and purpose for our life. 

Our life here on earth is transitory. It’s like the waiting lounge we pass through on our way to our real home. Most people just like to be lazy and comfortable while waiting in a lounge. Others don’t want to waste time and make the most of it. They learn as much as possible about the place they are going to. They study the map, the places they want to visit. They try to get a feel for the new country. They get to know how the people there live, their customs and traditions. They want to fit in. 

It’s much the same with us. We should try to learn as much as we can about where we are going to spend eternity, shouldn’t we? After all, we won’t be here long. First of all, we should find out if we have the right visa. We may believe we’re going to heaven, but what if we have the visa for the other place we don’t want to end up in? 

In Matthew 7:21-23, we read of the miserable fate of some people who thought they would enter heaven. Jesus said, “Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord’, but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgement day, many will call out, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; you workers of lawlessness.” 

Lord, I want to enjoy Your peace for eternity. May I read Your Words, may I understand Your commands, and live according to Your plan and purpose for my life.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Violent Men!

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

For years, I could not understand this passage. Can violent men take God’s Kingdom by force? Multitudes followed John the Baptist to hear his message, and we can imagine that these were not refined, gentile crowds. These were the rough and ready, the eager, the zealous. They wanted in, and they would do anything to get in! Are we like that, spiritually aggressive, eager to take hold of all that God has for us, all His blessings of peace beyond understanding, joy, healing, love? Or are we content going to church, and not doing what a Christian shouldn’t do? 

If it was easy to get into heaven, why does Jesus say in Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able”? The word “strive” in the original Greek is agonizomai, which means an agonizing, intense, purposeful struggle. We find the same word in 1 Corinthians 9:25, and 1 Timothy 6:12. How interesting is it that in our modern day, it seems so easy to be a Christian? Just say the sinner’s prayer! But in all these verses we see there is much effort involved. We have to fight the good fight of faith. There’s a battle we have to win against the ancient enemy. 

If we want to win, we have to train. No one gets to the Olympics by deciding one day to join. There are years of training, times when you want to give up and relax. Runners run in the cold, the heat, eat well, work on their attitudes, and we need to do the same. Our trainer’s manual is the Bible, and to claim the Kingdom blessings, we need to aggressively, even violently go after it. Faith isn’t passive, it’s aggressive. We fight a spiritual battle against a wily enemy who wants us complacent. God has given us the full armor, and powerful weapons to win, as described in Ephesians 6:10-18. The good news is we can stand our ground, we can conquer, we can win! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hope in the Lord!

“Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31

I love these verses. If we put them together with another of my favorite verses, Isaiah 40:8, we can be unstoppable. “Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the Word of our God stands forever.” Forever. How many times have I heard, “Walang forever” (There is no such thing as forever)??? No wonder our world is in such a mess! If we don’t believe in forever, we think everything will pass away, we will live day to day with no thought of tomorrow. Without an eternal perspective, the world is doomed to selfishness, entitlement, consumerism, running after fleeting joys, one-upmanship, despair, hopelessness and aimlessness. What is the antidote? God and God alone. 

When we believe in God, His Word and His promises, we are well able to handle what life throws at us. We will be able to accomplish the impossible. I see it in my life. I am not smart and I lack any business sense whatsoever. I am fully aware of my limitations. But I am obedient and I made myself available to what my mom wanted me to do. I believe that if we honor our parents, blessings follow (Exodus 20:12, Proverbs 1:8, Ephesians 6:1-3). Growing up, I was always by her side, helping her, working beside her. When our business grew, she did not teach me and my siblings business principles, she taught us life principles. What we sow, we will reap. Pray, pray, pray. Nothing is impossible with God. Yard by yard, life is hard, inch by inch, it’s a cinch. God will make a way even if there is no way. Work hard and leave the rest to God. 

Today, even if we were not ambitious to start with, we have 21 stores and we are opening the 22nd before Christmas. It can be tiring, it can be frustrating. After 50 years in business, we see there is still so much to improve. But I’ve lived those 50 years and I’ve seen God work miracles, and I know He will continue to be the wind beneath our wings. If I look around me, at the condition the world is in, I feel sad and hopeless. But when I look to God and focus on His Word, I get exhilarated. Yes truly, we that hope in the Lord will never be disappointed! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Great Sign

“A great sign appeared in the sky...a woman clothed with the sun...she was with child...” Revelation 12:1-2

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or in the original Spanish, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. 

In the 1400s, Mexico was under Aztec oppression. In every town, there was a temple pyramid, where Aztec priests would offer human sacrifices to their god Huitzilopochtli. This god was the "Lover of Hearts and Drinker of Blood," and the priests would cut out the beating hearts of victims, usually adult men but very often children. Over 50,000 human beings were sacrificed each year. Then in 1523, Franciscan missionaries came and evangelized the Indian people. 

On December 9, 1531, Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to a 57-year old simple peasant man, an Aztec convert, who was on his way to mass. Mary asked Juan Diego to request Bishop Zumarraga that a shrine be built in her honor on the site where she appeared. When Juan presented this request to the Bishop, the Bishop naturally asked for a sign. After several encounters with Mary, Juan brought the Bishop what he asked for. When Juan opened his tilma, his peasant cloak, beautiful Castillan roses, foreign to Mexico, fell out, but more than that, the Bishop saw an extraordinary image of Our Lady on the tilma. The Bishop wept at the sight. That tilma still survives today and thousands go to see it in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We may be skeptical about apparitions and images appearing on tilmas. However, because Mary spoke to Juan Diego in his native language, and because she was wearing an Aztec dress in the image, this provoked millions of conversions to the Catholic faith in just under seven years. 

Today, we may not have human sacrifices to gods, but 27 million  women and children are being sacrificed at the altar of sexual trafficking. One woman’s story is particularly poignant. She gave money to some people who were going to help her get to another country where she would study nursing. Instead, she was forced to have sex with about 40 men a day. When she got pregnant and gave birth, they took her baby and sold the baby to pedophiles. Irene couldn’t take it anymore and leapt from the 4th floor of the apartment where she was held hostage. She was found, brought to A21, a foundation that fights sexual trafficking, and today, she is pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. 

There is too much evil in the world. But the vision in the Book of Revelation chapter 11 gives us hope. Because of Mary’s yes, because she gave birth to Jesus, and because Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of God and the authority of His anointed.” 

Rev. 12:10.

Monday, December 11, 2017

God Alone

“Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Luke 5:21

The Pharisees liked to find something to criticize about Jesus, and they found much. It was a pity because Jesus will not work in our life, will not work miracles, if we do not have faith.  In the 5th chapter of Luke, we find Jesus teaching and healing inside a house that was already full of people.  Then a commotion. Tiles from the roof were being removed, until there was a hole big enough for a stretcher to go through. Men with big, strong arms lowered the stretcher, and lying on it was a paralyzed man. The first thing Jesus noticed was the faith of the men who brought the paralytic. 

Often, we want to help others. We may have great ideas on how to help a friend with their financial problem. We might have thought of a way out of an officemate’s dilemma. Many times, people are sick, and we do not lay hands on them and pray for them. It may be that we are too busy, too lazy, but many times, it is because we have too little faith to make the effort.  The men in this bible story had so much faith, they did more than enough for their friend to get Jesus’ attention. And Jesus, impressed by their faith, said, “Your sins are forgiven.” This tells us that to Jesus, forgiveness of sins is more important than healing any physical ailment. 

We do not want to be like the critical Pharisees. Let us be careful not to find fault continually and lose our chance to get close to Jesus and have our sins forgiven. Instead let us be ever on the look out for ways to help others, love our neighbor, and grow our faith, so miracles may happen in our midst. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Put on Righteousness

“Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before Him, at peace.” 2 Peter 3:14

Await what things? Advent readings have been all about the Second Coming of the Lord, about how we have to be ready at any time, because He will come unannounced, like a thief in the night. “The heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.” Back up a minute. Everything? All the petty things I do? All those horrible thoughts about this person I don’t particularly like? I was just thinking about this yesterday, but in relation to some bigwig who flashed by us in his convoy. I was already annoyed by the traffic, and his line of cars escaped by countering the flow of traffic on the opposite lane. I was thinking, “Does God care about these seemingly insignificant infractions? Will it count in the eternal scheme of things?” I consider all our congressmen who want to allow the dissolution of marriage in our country just because they want to escape from their legal unions. Or how about our President cursing on TV and encouraging a culture of death and destruction? If we are to believe Saint Peter, we will be accountable for EVERYTHING we do. Who in the world is safe then? As Ric Warren says, “I am married to a sinner, and she is married to a bigger sinner!” We can’t point fingers at one another. 

But we can take comfort in this: “be eager to be found without spot or blemish before Him, at peace.” At first reading this seems highly, exceedingly, immensely impossible. But wait, I know there’s something somewhere in God’s Word which says put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). How do we do that? Galatians 3:27 says, “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” It’s not impossible after all! 

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

Yes Father, take away the filthy rags of my sin, and clothe me with the righteousness of Your Son! I can then await Your coming with eagerness and joy! 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Don’t Go There!

“This is the way; walk in it.” 
Isaiah 30:21

There is a well known poem by Robert Frost, which ends with : “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

In our life, we encounter many roads and paths. If we choose some roads, we travel with many people. Some are not so popular, and choosing to traverse them takes courage and determination. It is not uncommon today that when we stand up for what is right, we speak up against the majority, we get ridiculed and even lambasted. But how do we know if we are on the right path? How do we make sure we are making good decisions? 

If only God would walk beside us all day long and tell us, “This is the way; walk in it.” But in God’s goodness and wisdom, He allows us to choose. He allows us to make mistakes and thereby learn. But I believe that if we keep talking to Him throughout the day, asking Him to guide us in what to do, how to say things, where to go, what road to choose, we will eventually learn to hear Him say, “This is the way, walk in it.” I am very sure God brought me to my Christian community. It is as sure as if He said to me, “This is your community. Live their way of life.” I am also 100% confident that God chose Luigi for me. God is very creative in how He chooses to speak to us, and if we ask, we will receive His answers. 

Just as if we want to be proficient in calligraphy, we have to keep practicing, we have to “practice” listening to God. If we want to be a good singer, dancer, violinist, chef, financial analyst, doctor, etc., we have to put time and effort into learning and improving. Learning to listen to God is the same. We need to take the time to be quiet, to deliberately tune out the cacophony of the world, in order to hear His “still, small voice.” It is not easy. Some people struggle praying for 5 minutes. But what a blessed reward we receive when one day we hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” or even, “That is not the way! Don’t go there!” 

Friday, December 08, 2017

Nothing is Impossible

“For nothing is impossible with God...” 
Luke 1:37

Perhaps we all need an “Annunciation”. The word comes from the Latin ‘anuntiatio’ and refers to the announcement of the Angel Gabriel to Mary that she was going to bear a son, even though she was a virgin. “Do not be afraid, Mary,” the angel said to her. “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.”

“How can this be? How can that even be possible?” this young maiden asked, pondering the words of the angel. And Angel Gabriel pronounced, “Nothing is impossible with God.” We too are asked to bear Jesus to a broken world. Jesus is the Good News, the Word made flesh. Before He left this earthly world as described in Acts 1:9, He gave explicit instructions for His disciples, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” 

Like Mary, we may say, “How can this be? How can I do that? I am just a housewife. I am a teacher in a remote barrio. I am an inmate. I am a secretary.” Whatever it is we do, if Angel Gabriel were to confront us, he would say the same thing he told Mary. “Do not be afraid. Like Mary, you will be able to do this by the power of the Holy Spirit for nothing is impossible with God.” 

Lord, open our eyes to see the many opportunities You have given us to spread Your gospel to people around us who need to hear encouragement. May Your Holy Spirit inspire us, and teach us what to say. 

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Building on Rock

“Anyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like the wise man who built his house on rock.” 
Matthew 7:24

On December 11, 1993, an entire apartment building, Block One of the Highland Towers, collapsed in Selangor, Malaysia. 48 people were killed. The cause: the soil on which the building was constructed was oversaturated with water that it became mud. 100,000 square meters of mud pushed on the foundations of the building making cracks on the road, warning of an impending collapse. 

Sometimes there are cracks in our own spiritual makeup or disposition. Too much stress, anxiety, shame, unforgiveness, introspection, pride, sensitivity, or blaming others for our life.  While listening to the video of Christine Caine this morning, she said we have to have the courage to let go of the past. She showed Saddleback Church some papers on powerpoint. One was her birth certificate which had “Unnamed” on the line where her name should have been. She also showed a 25 year old letter from the Education Department which said she was not competent, unqualified, and if she wanted to pursue any kind of social work, she had to go back to school. 

Today Christine, along with her husband, is the founder of A21, an anti-human trafficking, anti-slavery organization operating in 11 countries around the world. She did not let her black and white documents define her. Instead, she looked to another black and white love letter, the Bible, which said that everything was possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23). It also showed her that even if she was unnamed at birth, even when she was in her mother’s womb, God knew her, and set her apart.
(Jeremiah 1:5). 

If there is something in our past holding us back from pursuing what God wants us to do, we can rebuild a better future based on the rock solid plans found in the Bible. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper
you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Shepherd Therapy

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters...” Psalm 23:2

In Japan, there is such a thing as forest bathing or forest therapy, or in Japanese, “Shinrin-yoku”. It was developed in the 80’s, and it has become the heart of their preventive health care. The proponents believe that just taking a walk in the forest or any natural environment, helps us in so many amazing ways by relaxing us, quieting our mind, stimulating our immune system and relieving chronic stress. Studies have shown lots of health benefits in this and in the States, there are guided tours in forests for $30 per person. The guide will invite you to notice the stream, or to touch the dirt, things like that. 

We don’t have to pay someone $30 to bring us through green fields and quiet pastures. We have a Shepherd who teaches us in Psalm 23, that to reduce our stress, all we need is to walk with Him. He will guide us, and teach us, how our soul and spirit can be restored, and how we need have no anxiety or fears about anything. When we walk with our Shepherd, “goodness and lovingkindness will follow us all the days of our lives.”

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Like a Little Child

“...although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” Luke 10:21

Richard Dawkins, the infamous militant atheist biologist, was on a BBC radio show once with the Rev. Giles Fraser, former canon chancellor of St. Paul's Cathedral in England. Dawkins had just claimed that people in Britain who identified themselves as Christian, were not Christian at all, because according to a survey conducted by their group, they could not even name the first book of the New Testament! Reverend Fraser then countered with the question: “Could you give me the full title of The Origin of the Species”?

Dawkins hesitated and mumbled, "On the Origin of Species…Uh…With, oh, God, On the Origin of Species. Um…There is a sub-title with respect to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.” Would his answer indicate that Dawkins was not a real evolution-believing atheist? 

Sometimes we can be too wise for our own good. Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “I tell you the truth, unless you repent and change, and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Strong words. Wise people have tried to prove that God does not exist, but they can’t answer where moral law comes from if there is no God. 

Little children instinctively trust adults, and we, like little children, like lambs, should trust our Shepherd. Like little children, we should be full of hope and expectation. We should bask in our Father’s all powerful love. Instead of always being bothered and stressed, we should recover our capacity to be fully in the present, to experience the gifts God gives us. Like little kids who are enthusiastic and lack guile, we should not be afraid of creating or making or starting something new. Atheists may try to destroy, but little children like to build. Lord, may we never be cynical or angry. There is so much for us to discover and learn if we open our hearts to You, like a little child! 

Monday, December 04, 2017

Don’t Forget Christ!

I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord”. 
Psalm 122:1

Today is the second day of Advent. The word comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "arrival" or "coming". For Catholics and many Christians around the world, Advent is the first season of the liturgical year or the church year. This is a special holy season during which each of us has the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, to be watchful for His Second Coming.

During our community celebration yesterday, Kuya Vic Gutierrez gave a talk and shared a cute story about his granddaughter Angela who lives in the US. She calls him her ‘best friend’. She adores him so much, she misses him when he is here in the Philippines. One time she asked her mom to make a video of her to send to her grandfather. In it she is crying, and pleading with him to come for a visit. “Please, lolo, you are old already. Please come!” 

Kuya Vic concluded that we should be like that and more with Jesus. We should long for Him. We should yearn to see His face. We should hunger and thirst for more of Him. Instead of the substantial food of God’s Word and His presence, we can be satiated with the sugar and sweets of the froth of Christmas, the sights and sounds, the tinsel on the tree, the icing on the pastries. Where is Jesus in our festivities? 

In the homily during mass yesterday, the priest told a funny story of a family preparing for the baptism of their baby. They were so busy preparing for the celebration, the lechon (suckling pig), the salad, the decor, their party clothes, but when they got to the Church, they forgot the baby! Never let it be said of us that during Christmas, we forgot the birthday celebrant!!!!

During this season of preparation, let us take some special time to ready our hearts to receive Him. Is there room for Christ in the inn of our hearts? 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

No Hands But Ours

“He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work...” Mark 13:34

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Most of us miss Advent and go straight to Christmas. My husband was a stickler for observing Advent when we got married, and I could not put up a Christmas tree till really late in December. But the ‘advent’ of our son Josh changed that, and we put up the tree for the little boy who was fascinated with the lights.

But Advent and Christmas is not all about the decor, the lights, the gifts, the parties, but more about what goes on in our hearts. We are in an in-between time, in between Christ’s first coming when He arrived as a babe in a manger, and His second coming. We do not know when Christ will come again. Meanwhile, we are to be watchful, ready, and waiting. Jesus likens us to servants waiting for the master who has gone on a long journey. The master has placed his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to keep watch over the property. What is our work, do you think? Is it to be a mother, a teacher, a garbage collector, a chef, a congressman? Yes, whatever our role is in society, we need to do that to the best of our ability. But when our Master left, He gave us clear instructions to build His Kingdom. Before He left, He ordered, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” If we’re a mother, we need to spread the gospel in our children’s hearts. If we’re a manager, a teacher, a cook, we need to spread the gospel in whatever way we can.

We need to be Jesus’s voice, His hands, His feet, His heart here on earth. Father Paul Uwemedino quoted Teresa of Avila yesterday in his talk: “Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours...Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world...Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

Father Paul certainly walks his talk. He left his comfortable life in Nigeria to be Jesus to the poor in Payatas. He sold his worldly goods to make a place where God’s love could be experienced by them. Like him, we should reveal to the world God’s love, His mercy, forgiveness, faithfulness, kindness and grace. This Advent, may we try to be Jesus to those with no hope, no joy, no peace. 

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Be on the Watch!

“Be on the watch. Pray constantly...” Luke 21:36

It’s a challenge to be on the watch, and be attentive all the time. But sometimes your life depends upon it, especially if you’re a soldier in the danger zone. I am reading Bruce Feiler’s “Where God was Born”, which is about his journey through some of the most tension filled areas of the world. Halfway through the book, there is a story that struck me. He met Chaplain Steve Munson and his group who were part of the 607th MP Battalion. They were taking pictures at the base of the ziggurat in what used to be Ur. Bruce asked the Chaplain what passages in the Bible spoke to him the most while he was serving in Iraq. The Chaplain flipped through his desert-camouflaged Bible to Psalm 91, and Bruce noticed a small note on top of the page, “3-09-03, Arifjan”. 

Bruce asked about it and the Chaplain narrated that the Battalion was stationed at Camp Arifjan before the war was supposed to start. The Executive Officer asked the Chaplain to lead a prayer because he was afraid he would lose some men in the coming battle. “I chose Psalm 91. I call it the soldier’s psalm,” and he started to read, “I say of the Lord, my refuge and stronghold, My God in whom I will find refuge under His wings...You need not fear the terror by night...”

“Why this Psalm?” Bruce asked, and the Chaplain said, “I believe God leads through His Word. When you are in stressful situations, He will lead you to specific parts of His Word that will have meaning and will give you encouragement to make it through. In this instance, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. When we heard that first night lightning, lightning, lightning and Scud missiles were flying at us in all directions, we had the comfort knowing that, as it says here, God will cover us and the terror of the night will not destroy us.” 

“I’m not sure if this will make any sense to you,” he continued, “but as we were praying that night, we received a promise we would have no loss of life in our battalion.” He paused dramatically. “Tomorrow we will leave the country after nearly a year, the only battalion in our brigade with no loss of life.” 

We may not know it but we too are in the midst of a battle. We may not see the weapons the enemy targets at us with precision, but they are real. That’s why Jesus told His disciples to be on the watch and to pray constantly. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Eternal Words

“The heavens and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass.” 
Luke 21:33

Yesterday, I attended a recollection with a group of brothers and sisters in our community. One of the questions, Menchie, our facilitator, gave us to meditate on was, “What are the longings of your heart?”

I realized that every morning as I read the Word of God, painted and pondered, I was always in awe of what a treasure we had available to us. It was like I opened a treasure box every morning in anticipation of what I would find. And the longing in my heart was that more and more people would realize this, value God’s Word, see the truth that the enemy wants to hide. 

We spend a lot of time doing worthless things. I confess that sometimes I go on Netflix binges. I marathon watched Drop Dead Diva and Stranger Things. I get so busy sewing, painting, pasting stuff, and enjoying myself. I get lost in all the work I have to do in our family business. But I always always spend time with God and His Word first thing in the morning. I know that of all the many things I do in my day, the only things that have any value eternally is to read and obey God’s word, to love God and to love my neighbor. Everything else will pass away. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Come After Me

“Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

One thing is sure, the Lord’s ways are different, very different than ours. One time we were having a problem with one of our branches. To us, this branch was high performing, but to the mall in Makati, we were not selling enough. What are our 10 peso pads, 25 peso posters and 300 peso scrapbooks compared to the sales of an imported brand known for selling jeans for P15,000 a pair?!!! We prayed and tried to find someone to help us renew our contract. At first nothing, no answer, until God gave me a sense that I had to walk seven times around the store like the Israelites in the 6th chapter of Joshua. After that march, a “claiming of the land”, my brother was able to talk to someone who was able to help. We are still there. 

If we follow God, He will teach us His ways. They are usually the opposite of the world’s. If we are lonely, we need to go out and love others. If we need money, we need to “sow”, to be generous. When we are facing a big trial or challenge, we should praise God loudly! 

We can trust that if we come after the Lord, He will teach us to do our work. He will guide us how to be fishermen, businessmen, teachers, preachers, janitors, tricycle drivers, IT consultants, artists, cooks.... His way and not ours. We will find that He is willing to teach us step by step, as long as we are willing to follow Him step by step. It’s a pilgrimage journey that leads to a retirement plan that is out of this world. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

WOYWW: Can’t Take it with You!

On my desk today is one of our papemelroti journals that I am preparing to give to a dear friend. 

I painted her portrait and made some collages to start her off. 

This is the journal I picked for her. I am so proud of our art journals. You can find them here if you would like to see the designs- 

“Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace.” Daniel 5:5

Many odd things happen in Bible stories, and this one in the book of Daniel is one of them. King Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, held a feast. He was drunk with wine and power and ordered the vessels his father had stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem, to be brought out from storage. He and his guests then used the gold and silver vessels for drinking wine. While drinking, they praised gods of their own making, gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. 

Eerily, the fingers of a human hand appeared out of thin air, and started writing words on the wall. “MENE, TEKEL, PERES,” was inscribed, and the king shivered, his face turned white, as did his guests. Then he called for Daniel the prophet to interpret the words. Daniel said, “You have rebelled against the Lord of heaven. The God in whose hand is your life breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify. You have been found wanting.” 

Poor King Belshazzar had wealth beyond his wildest dreams. He had so much power which he could have used to help his people. But he didn’t do that. 

I was listening to the speech the actor Denzel Washington gave in 2015 to the graduates of Dillard University. He said they should always put God first in everything they do. He proclaimed that everything he has, everything he has accomplished in his life, was by the grace of God. He told the story that when he was young and was starting to make it as an actor, he asked his mom, “Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.” Then his mom shushed him and corrected him, “Boy, stop it right there, stop! If you only knew how many people been praying for you!” She had asked so many groups to pray for him, even splashed him with holy water to protect him from evil! 

One thing Denzel said was that you never see a U-haul behind a hearse because no matter how much money you’ve amassed, how many mansions you’ve built or bought, how much jewelry or bitcoins or gold bullion you have, you’ll never be able to take it with you. 

He emphasized that the most selfish thing we can do is help others. The more we help others, the more successful we are. There’s joy in it, there’s satisfaction, plus we add to our treasure in heaven! Better to follow Denzel’s advice than King Belshazzar’s example! 

Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!
I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Our Long-Suffering God

“Teacher, when will this happen?” 
Luke 21:7

Jesus was telling all who would listen to Him about the last days. Then as now, people were very interested in signs of the Messiah’s second coming. “Take care not to be misled. Many will come in My name saying, ‘I am he’ and ‘The time is at hand.’ Do not follow them. Neither must you be perturbed when you hear of wars and  insurrections. These things are bound to happen first, but the end does not follow immediately.”

This says a lot about the patience of God. Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, great signs and fearful omens in the heavens, plagues, famine, these all call people to examine their lives and call upon the name of the Lord. 

In 2 Peter 3: 8-9, we read, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Long-suffering. Patient. This is not the same quality we need when we are caught in traffic or waiting in a doctor’s office. God knows the beginning and the end of everything, even time. He is patient and long-suffering because He has a purpose and a plan. God wants to bring us all under His Kingship. Lord, may we work with You, and may we learn to be patient with those You want to call to Your side.