Saturday, October 21, 2017

Faith is the Key

“Faith is the key...” Romans 4:16

In my other Bible, I read, “It all depends on faith, everything is grace.” 

Last week I had my hair cut by my favorite haircutter because my hair was scraggly and we were going to have our big celebration for the 50th anniversary of our family business. My sister Peggy told me not to have it cut too short and I did give Bernie that instruction but unfortunately I asked him to tell me his story and it was a long story so my hair got shorter and shorter. 

Bernie’s ‘salon’, if it can be called that, is like a hole in the wall next to a dingy car repair shop. He charges P60 (little over a dollar), but I am more satisfied every time I go to him than when I go to expensive parlors. I asked him where he learned to cut hair. He comes from Isabela in the Cagayan Valley and his father was a poor farmer. He wanted to go to school but there was no money for any of the family to go to school. He asked a relative in Manila if he could go stay with her for a while and she agreed. In Manila, even while he was still a teenager, he would find jobs as a houseboy. On his third job, his boss said, “Bernie, you’re not going to be a houseboy forever. I will pay for the haircut and grooming course in TESDA so you can learn a skill.” After he finished that, and he went to school, he would charge P5.00 to cut hair. All his classmates would have their hair cut and he would be able to buy school supplies and books. He is the only one of his siblings who can read and write. He sent his nephew and niece to school and they graduated already, have their own homes, and cars and families. He bought his brother in the province a rice field. He sends money home to his mother regularly. 

While telling his story, he would call himself “bakla” (homosexual), and he told me most of his friends could not save any money because they would “rampa” all the time. What’s rampa, I asked him. “Go after men. Different men who just fool them for their money.” 

While talking to him, I was praying if there was anything God wanted me to say, but Bernie would keep talking, and cutting. He said he was “palasimba”, a churchgoer. He would pray to God, “Lord, please give me a house. Even if it’s just a ‘kubo’, a hut.” Eventually he was able to buy a house in a gated subdivision. He said he was so grateful to God for his blessings. “Lord, I only asked for a hut, and you gave me a concrete home.”

Yes, faith is the key. I think God gave each of us a key. It’s up to us to use it to open doors, or to let the key sit unused. Sometimes we even lose the key. But if we open one door, work hard, love those God gives us to love, other doors will appear and we can use the same key to open more doors. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Termites and Wrong Thinking

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed...” Luke 12:2

Earlier this year, my dad had our home, the home we grew up in, renovated. It got a new splash of paint, the windows were fixed, and the garden was replanted with flowers. It looked really, really nice...on the outside. 

Two weeks ago, my dad told us that termites attacked the wooden parts of the roof truss and flooring. When I visited I was horrified to see the ceiling and cabinets in the kitchen and master’s bedroom toilet removed to expose the damage. It was much worse in the attic. When my dad was having the exterior beautified, we did not realize that there was so much rotting wood inside the ceilings! 

We have to examine our life if there’s anything in our character, attitude and mind set that needs a thorough overhaul. We can be “beautiful” on the outside, like what Jesus said of the Pharisees, but rotten inside. We need to be very careful, because like termites that can destroy a home from the inside out, a ‘little’ sin can grow and corrupt the very foundation of our Christian life. We need to root out wrong thinking, lukewarmness, selfishness, and a placid acceptance of worldly values. We have to pray, read the Bible everyday, and serve others, so that our inner compass can guide us. If we don’t, that inner compass will get rusty, all but covered in the moist soil that termites use to move around in. 

Lord, show me where I am not pleasing to You, where I am dirty in Your sight. Sometimes I am not very charitable towards how I think of others. Sometimes I am not generous. Help me to get rid of the ‘termites’ that are destroying my relationship with you and my brothers and sisters. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sinners All

"For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard." Romans 3:23

No one particularly likes to talk of sin. A whole lot of preachers shirk from telling their congregations that they are sinners and need to turn away from their evil worldly ways. Saint Paul clearly tells us we are all sinners, not only the Pharisees or tax collectors or corrupt politicians or fornicators, or murderers. ALL are sinners. When we talk of sin, we would also have to ask, "By whose standards?" Most people would like to make their own, and exclude from the list whatever they do! 

But Saint Paul tells us we are all under the law of God. We can't make our own rules, even if we argue till we are blue in the face to be politically correct or socially acceptable. In the end, what will matter is we are under God's law because He created us, and we have all sinned against Him. 

In Josh McDowell's 

book, "More than a Carpenter", he relates a story of a judge in California who declared a young woman guilty for speeding. He fined her $100, and then the judge stood, took off his robe, and paid the fine. You see, the woman was his daughter. He was willing to pay the price for her so she could go free. 

In the court of life, of which God is the judge, the "wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). We are all sinners, guilty as charged. God took off His robe of divinity to come down in the form of man and pay the price.  

Thank You Jesus for loving as so much to be our redeemer, to be the propitiation for the requirements of the Father, so we may live with You forever in Your heavenly Kingdom! 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WOYWW: Saint Luke the Evangelist

I've been working in the garden for several months now, ever since I started an auction for a friend who fell and got into a comma. My table is messy with all sorts of things! 

On the right, there's a pile of cloth I've been making into purses. I used to embroider them myself, but I've found someone to do it so I can sell it at our shops, papemelroti. Some if the cloth, I plan to make into tassel earrings. 

"Only Luke is with me." 
2 Timothy 4:11

Today, October 18, is the Feast Day of Saint Luke the Evangelist. He is known as the patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers. In Christian tradition, Saint Luke is known to be the first icon painter, having painted the Madonna and child several times. The well known Black Madonna of Częstochowa is believed to be his work. I happily discovered today that he illustrated a gospel book with miniature paintings! It's amazing to know that we who paint in our Bibles follow in the tradition of Saint Luke! 

I love reading about the saints. We can discover how ordinary men and women place their God-given gifts, their time, their resources, their voices, at the feet of Jesus, offer their lives to God, and discover their purpose. The saints come in different sizes, colors, temperaments, and professions, but they all point to Jesus. 

Saint Luke was not a Jew, but when he discovered the Savior, he decided to know as much as he could about Him. He interviewed Mary and wrote the most beautiful account about her in the Gospels. He was Paul's companion several times as Saint Luke mentions in the Book of Acts which he also wrote. I am sure he tried to learn as much as he could from Saint Paul and others as well. We find 6 miracles and 18 parables in his gospel not found in the others. 

Luke is mentioned in Paul's letter to Philemon, where Paul calls him "my fellow worker". And after Paul is deserted by everyone else in his final imprisonment, only Saint Luke remains with him. Do we get to know Jesus with all the resources available to us today? We may not be able to interview Mary or Saint Paul, but we can prayerfully read the gospels. We can listen to people who study God's word and learn their insights. We can sit at Jesus' feet and listen to Him. He may not speak clearly at first but if we persevere, God will surprise us. After all He said if we knock, He will open the door. Like Saint Luke, let us open our hearts to discover all that God has in store for us! How exciting it is to wake up every morning to God's marvelous love and generosity! 

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


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Visible God

"Since the creation of the world, invisible realities, God's eternal power and divinity, have become visible, recognized through the things He has made." Romans 1:20

Creation is God's first missionary. The beauty of the flower, the majesty of the mountains, the power of the volcano, the terribleness of the storm, the grandeur of an eagle in flight, the perfect peace of a sleeping baby, all speak to us of God's character and nature. He may be invisible, but we can see and experience His love, His creativity, His nobility, His patience, His kindness and His awesome power. 

Last year, atheist Bennie Hart applied for a license plate which said "IMGOD", and was refused by the Kentucky Transportation Department. Because Mr. Hart does not believe in God, he makes himself his god. That's what we all do when we disregard the laws God put into place FOR OUR OWN GOOD! It's sad that instead of worshipping the Creator, people put created things on a pedestal. It happened in Moses' time with the golden calf in the Book of Exodus. It is amazing that after all the miracles the Jews experienced, when Moses left them for 40 days, they decided they wanted a god for them to follow! And they created one!!!! Perhaps by our very nature, human beings want to see the god they choose to worship. That's why people make idols. And yet there is the whole universe to ponder that gives testimony to the God of miracles, the God of precise order, the God of exquisite beauty. 

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them (Psalm 8:3,4). 

Lord, forgive us our many failings. Your creation declare Your glory and majesty. May we not make the mistake of making things and people more important than You! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

A New Song!

"O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things!" Psalm 98:1

It's glorious to wake up wanting to sing. Not many people experience that but it's possible if our hearts are filled with gratitude. If we can see the hand of God in our lives, and know that He is there, a constant presence even through the bad times, we can have a joy and peace beyond understanding. 

Yesterday afternoon I was listening to the testimony of two of my dear friends, Roel and Chonette Villa, who were featured on Inquirer's Radio show, Kakaiba Ka. They are members of our community, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (The Joy of the Lord), but the journey to where they are now is full of heartbreak and desolation. 

In 2008, Roel started his own company and for some time, he did so well, they lived a very good life, having the best that money could buy. But in 2008, his clients slowly disappeared and they were left with nothing, as in they were evicted from their condo and had to leave everything behind. Chonette hated Roel so much she didn't care what he did. She hated God and she would berate God, shout at Him, and accuse Him of hitting her while she was down. Roel tried to kill himself 3 times because he was so depressed but each time, he would remember his children, his wife, his mom, and decide not to. 

They were invited to the Choices Seminar given by Pathways, and during the first talk felt that the speaker was talking about them. After the first talk, Roel got a call and was offered a job. That was the start of the journey of getting to know God, His love for them, and His plan. Now they are both joyfully serving Him because of the gratitude they have in their hearts. They can even say thank you for the problems they had because of all that they learned and how God used it to bring them closer to Him. 

Yes Lord, You can do wonderful things in our life, if only we let You in. Nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible with You! 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Feast

"Come to the feast." Matthew 22:4

It's almost always exciting to go to a wedding feast. You know you're going to be among friends, eat fine food, and most of all, you will be with the bride and groom and delight in their joy. 

Jesus in Matthew 22, likens the reign of God to a wedding banquet given by a king for his son. It's so depressing that the king prepared the best foods and wine, and his guests preferred to work! He invited people who did not think his invitation to be with him was wonderful! 

God is inviting each of us to His party as well. We cannot imagine the glorious experience that awaits us in His home. But some of us, instead of preparing our appropriate garments, prefer to work, work, work, or play, play, play, without thought for the eternal future that we all have to face one day. Although we are all invited to Heaven, we cannot get in if we are not fitly dressed in the clothing of salvation and the robe of Christ's righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Melted Mountain

I joined a mail swap recently and this is what I sent off. I gathered a lot of stuff from my box of collage materials. Stickers, cut outs from magazines or brochures, odds and ends. The theme was hope. Everyone needs hope. I painted a postcard with one of my favorite sayings. "Hope is a thing with feathers...."  Couldn't show the postcard before because the recipient might see it!

"The mountains melt like wax before the Lord..." Psalm 97:5

Mountains are mentioned almost 570 times in the Bible, but the verses about mountains that intrigue me most are found in Mark 11:23, Matthew 21:21, Matthew 17:20. In all these verses Jesus says that if we have faith even the size of a mustard seed, we can say to a mountain, "Move!" and it would move. We could say, "Melt!" and it would melt. Nothing would be impossible. Wouldn't we want a faith like that? I am sure there are many mountains we want to speak to. Mountains of cancer and so many kinds of sicknesses and addiction, financial need, broken relationships, etc. If only we could just say, "I rebuke you, tumor! Melt!", and it would disappear. 

I believe in everything Jesus said so it is not outside the realm of possibility for each of us to be able to do this. We do not need Jesus to come down and do the speaking for us. He wants us to learn from Him. In Romans 10:7, Saint Paul tells us that faith comes from listening to the Word of God. If we keep reading the Word aloud, we are making our faith grow. I like to not only read the Word, I like to listen to preaching and teaching on Youtube. I see my faith as a garden and I like to plant seeds of different kinds in my garden. 

I heard of this woman whose laptop, phone and iPod was stolen. She felt horrible but she had just listened to a talk and decided to practice what she heard. She decreed and declared that she wanted her laptop back, she wanted her iPhone back, she wanted her iPod back. Some days later, she received a call from a man who wanted to meet with her. "I'm the one who stole your things and I want to return it", he told her. They met at a coffee shop, and he said, "I was listening to a talk on your iPod. Bill Johnson's 'I want my life back', and I thought I should return your things." After that, the woman was able to bring the man to the Lord! 

Yes Lord, You work in mysterious ways! Teach me those ways Lord! I want to learn not only how to melt my mountains but I want to melt the mountains plaguing other people too!  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Claiming our Children

" the finger of God..." Luke 11:20

I was just reading about some depressing statistics about the percentage of high school kids who are sexually active, who experiment with drugs, alcohol and smoking. What a grim picture it paints for the future! The enemy targets our children knowing they are the next generation of leaders and world changers. 

In the reading today, Jesus was casting out a devil, but the people around were accusing Him of being in league with the prince of devils himself! Many people don't want to face the fact that evil spirits are all around just waiting for a foothold into our homes and our children's lives. We need to be vigilant about not tolerating ungodly stuff to enter spaces we have control over. It's hard because the enemy is subtle and stealthy. A little burst of anger, a little impatience, annoyance, disobedience, can grow into rebellion and lying, promiscuity and defiance. 

"Any kingdom at war with itself is doomed," Jesus said. "Any house torn by dissension falls." When a mother and father cannot agree on the right way to bring up kids, disaster looms. As parents we need to be on the offensive, not on the defensive. I am preaching to myself here. My son is already 22, but I still keep praying for him, that he will know how to discern, to choose his friends and mentors. I pray for the environment around him, for the woman he will one day marry. But most of all I pray that he will have a life-changing encounter with our Savior. He has grown up with Christian brothers and sisters all around him at home, in school, in community. He's a loving, obedient, wonderful son, but I'm waiting for God's finger to touch Him to bring him to the next level. We need to claim our children for God! 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Day of Judgment

"The day of judgment is coming, blazing like a furnace, when all the arrogant and the evildoers will be stubble." Malachi 3:20 or 4:1

I do not think about hell much, but today there is this verse in the readings about the day of judgment and burning. Most people want to believe that a loving God, a compassionate God would not put even the most horrible people in a blazing furnace for eternity. The best future I imagine is for these hopelessly wicked people to burn up and disappear like straw. 

The Book of Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament, and after the prophet Malachi, God did not speak to the Jews for 400 years. But Malachi's prophecy ends with the promise for those who fear God's name. "The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings, and you will go free, leaping with joy." The Jews always needed the prophets to remind them to turn away from their evil ways, and obey God. Over and over again, the Israelites saw that God kept His promises and what the prophets said came to pass. 

As adopted sons and daughters of God, we too need to take His words seriously. We need to read and study the book He left us so we can understand it. If we do our best to obey, God will do the rest. As a matter of fact, He already did it when He carried our sins on the cross. We can be confident that He who has started the good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6). If we do that, I have no doubt we will be able to enter our Father's house, and not be thrown into the holocaust!!! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WOYWW: Angry Jonah

Here are some of the cloth collages I've been pinning to sew into purses. Most of the scraps are from my mom's old dresses that have holes and can't be worn anymore. 

"Have you reason to be angry?" 

Jonah 4:4

Jonah is a comic book character to me, but Jesus believes in him and mentions him in Matthew 12:39. Jesus pointed out, probably in exasperation, "No sign shall be given this perverse generation but the sign of Jonah the prophet." Jesus could have said the 'very reluctant prophet'! When I read Jonah's story, I am incredulous. How could Jonah disobey God's clear command to go and preach to the wicked Ninevites, to tell them to repent? The story of Jonah is the story of God's training Jonah to obey, but it also shows God's heart. Even if the people of Nineveh were evil sinful people, God wanted to give them a chance to repent. In contrast, here was Jonah who was so angry with God. "I know You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, loathe to punish. I went around Nineveh proclaiming their destruction, and what did You do? You relented because they repented!!!!" 

God answered him: "Have you good reason to be angry?  Don't you have compassion on the plant that gives you shade? Why should I not have compassion for Nineveh's 120,000 people who do not know right from wrong?" 

We can definitely count on God's compassion. He showed us that we are precious to Him, engraved on the palm of His hand, by sending Jesus to give His life for us. But if we are disobedient, recalcitrant, reluctant to follow Him, we can also count on Him to discipline us, to prune us, to teach us His ways. Let us delight in a God who doesn't abandon us, never gives up on us, and always gives us second and third chances. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

One Thing

"One thing only is required." 

Luke 10:42

I am more of a Martha than a Mary in a way. Although I am seldom busy in matters of the household, I am never idle unless I am sick. These days I am pinning cloth for a livelihood project, preparing items for an auction for a friend, and wrapping Christmas gifts. When Martha complained to Jesus about her sister Mary, He kindly reminded her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; only one thing is required. Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it." 

If we ask people, they would say they pray usually at the end of the day, after they've done all their work, usually when they are tired and sleepy. And Scripture, maybe once or twice a week? Once a month? But Jesus in his reminder to Martha tells us in no uncertain terms, that listening to Him is SO important. Sitting at His feet and getting to know Him and His words will produce more results than any labor we do. 

We can get so disheartened about life sometimes, maybe our work, or relationships gone bad, sickness, finances, what's happening in our country... But what can get us through any seemingly hopeless situation is not racking our brains for a solution, but prayer and reading the Word of God. I heard about this experiment with rats put in water. Some rats were in a dark room and they drowned right away. Others were in a lighted room and they kept swimming for about 72 hours more than the rats in a dark room. The difference? Hope.

Hope is not tangible. We cannot buy it anywhere. Same with peace. Same with joy. But we cannot live a blessed life without these gifts from God. Indeed to be surrounded by His favor, we need only one thing. 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Resting in Thee

"Have no anxiety at all, 

but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding 

will guard your hearts 

and minds in Christ Jesus." 

Philippians 4:6-7

This is one of my favorite Bible verses, 

and the following passage from St. Augustine's Confessions, seems to be its partner: "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee."

I remember when I had no peace at all, 

little things made me cry, and it seemed as if everything I had done in my life was worthless. I would argue with everyone and fought with my poor mother who could not understand 

what was happening. It was in such a contrast to my usual state of mind 

 where I was content, thankful for everything, and rarely in contention with anyone. My mother called it my MIDNIGHT CRISIS, and so it was! 

I found out eventually there was something wrong with my thyroids that caused all the havoc with my emotions and physical well being. 

Through it all, and it lasted for more than a year, I held on to Philippians 4:6-7. I would confess it, pray it, claim it, repeat it, and I knew that one day, 'this too shall pass'. And thank God, it did!

Peace is not the absence of 

problems, conflict, storms, anger...

It is the surety we belong to Someone 

who loves us and wants the best for us. It is the confidence that everything 

will turn out right, even in spite of ourselves. 

Thank You Lord that even in a world full of tension, strife, and confusion, You are the gatekeeper, and we can enter into Your peace!

Saturday, October 07, 2017


"Rejoice that your names are inscribed in heaven." Luke 10:20

Imagine that we were one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus sent out in the 10th chapter of Luke. Jesus chose us from among His followers and sent us off ahead in pairs to all the towns and villages He planned to visit. We were the advance party. He prepared us by saying, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. Go now, and remember I am sending you as lambs among wolves....Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting Me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting Me. And anyone who rejects Me is rejecting the God who sent Me." 

Anyone who has gone out on a mission of random evangelization would know exactly what these disciples felt! But this is exactly what Jesus sends us out to do even today. We should have the mindset that wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we should plant seeds for the Kingdom, and expect the God of the harvest to take care of the seeds we plant randomly on our pilgrim journey. 

When the seventy-two returned, they were so excited! "Lord, even the demons obey us when we use Your name!" I am sure they had so many stories of their adventures, they were competing to tell Jesus of the miracles! 

I can imagine Jesus smiling just as He smiles when we do His will. But I think He was also saying, "Calm down, calm down! Don't rejoice just because evil spirits obey you, or miracles happen, lives are changed. Rejoice because your names are registered as citizens of heaven!"

Wow! Isn't that the most important thing? When we obey God and do what He wants us to do, we not only become brothers and sisters of Jesus, our names are inscribed in heaven as well! Awesome!

Friday, October 06, 2017

Save Us!

"O Lord, how long? Will You be angry forever?" Psalm 79:5

When I wake up in the morning, I usually ask Lucy, our helper, for the news. She listens to the radio while working and usually knows before all of us what's happening in our country, and in the world around us. I said, "I hope there's no massacre," and she answered me that there were people killed again last night in this horrific war the President is waging against drugs. 

I can't help thinking God is angry with our sins the same way He was furious with the disobedience of the Jews. We can read in Romans 13:1 that there is no authority except that which God establishes. I cannot help but compare our situation to the time Israel insisted on a king. 

Here is what happened at that time in 1 Samuel 8:6-9:

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” Then Samuel enumerated how harshly the king they wanted would treat them (1 Samuel 8:10-18), and yet the people still insisted on having a king. 

When our nation voted President Duterte into office, it was tantamount to rejecting God, the same way the Jews rejected Him. President Duterte clearly enumerated what he would do, that Manila Bay would turn red from the people he would have killed. Whenever he spoke, he spoke of death and curses and one could see his heart, and yet, 16 million chose him to lead us. 

Lord have mercy on us. We confess our many sins and weaknesses. We have done evil in Your sight, O Lord. Please do not be angry with us forever but save us. 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

On the left are some unfinished purses. On the right are the finished ones. These are all scrap cloth and lace from old clothes and pillows and tablecloths. I usually bring something to sew when I know I'll have a long wait or I may get sleepy at an evening meeting! 

"Ezra read out of the book from daybreak till midday." Nehemiah 8:3

After the walls and gates of Jerusalem were rebuilt, Jewish exiles returned to the city and the people had settled in their towns. On October 8, 445 B.C., all the people assembled together at the square inside the Water Gate. Then Ezra the priest brought out the scroll of the law and read aloud to the men, women and children gathered there. The people paid close attention, and then after Ezra read from early morning till noon, they lifted their hands and worshipped the Lord. After that, it was the turn of the Levites, the other priests, to explain what was read so the people would understand. 

The people started weeping for they realized their sin before God, but Nehemiah and the Levites instructed them, "Don't weep on such a day as this! This is a sacred day. Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! Go and celebrate!" 

The Word of God, as it says in Hebrews 4:12, is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife. It can cut deep into our innermost thoughts, and exposes us for what we really are. If we spend time reading it and deliberately trying to understand it as the people in the square did, we will realize how poor and wretched we are before our God. But God does not want us to remain in our wretched state. He wants to pick us up from the mud, and give us new life in Him. That is truly something to rejoice about! 

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

WOYWW: If My People

This is another envelope of goodies I prepared 
for a mail swap I joined for this month.
I put in a postcard I painted, and lots of scraps and stash 
from my box I play around with for my planner and collages.

"Why do you look sad?" Nehemiah 2:2

There are many evil kings in the Bible, but King Artaxerxes I of Persia was quite benevolent. He noticed that Nehemiah, his governor, looked sad and the King asked him what was the matter. Nehemiah then told him that Jerusalem was in ruins and the gates have been burned down.

Nehemiah found this out when his brother Hanani visited him. When he heard that his people in the city were in great trouble and disgrace, Nehemiah wept and prayed. "O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant of unfailing love with those who love Him and obey His commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for Your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against You. We have sinned terribly by not obeying Your laws."

Nehemiah then asked the King if he could take time off to rebuild the city. The whole book of Nehemiah then recounts how Nehemiah travelled to Jerusalem and organized the people to help rebuild the walls and the gates in spite of opposition from enemies. 

After the work was done, Ezra the priest read from the Book of the Law, the people fasted, confessed their sins, and promised to obey God. The book of Nehemiah can be a manual of what to do when our nation is in ruins and in disgrace. We may think that rallying and making noise is the answer but as usual God's ways are different from ours. First we have to pray, fast and confess our sins as a nation. We have to read God's laws and obey. We have to find walls to rebuild and make strong. It may be volunteering to teach poor children good values in Right Start or He Cares, helping to build homes in Gawad Kalinga and Habitat for Humanity, or getting to know our neighbors more.

"If my people who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

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


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

"Burn them up!!!"

"Lord, should we order down fire from heaven to burn them up?" Luke 9:54

Wasn't this presumptuous of James and John that they could actually order a holocaust to destroy the Samaritan village which ignored Jesus? Jesus rebuked them for their audacity. 

I wonder how many times we wished we could call down fire from heaven to destroy people who have insulted us, made us angry, or on a bigger scale, are unfit to hold public office? But what did Jesus do? He reprimanded them and set off for another town. How many of us, if we had absolute power would be able to walk away from using it against our enemies and detractors? We read of dictators and despots who actually get mad from the "hubris syndrome" of power. 

In Deuteronomy 28, we find many curses against those who do not obey God and insist on doing things their own way: madness, defeat, failure, confusion. "You will become a thing of horror to all." (verse 27) 

Humility, kindness, gentleness. We lose these if we are not careful. The day PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi received news that she was appointed to the company's board, she arrived home bursting with the 'huge' news. Her mother asked her whether, she could go out and buy some milk before she told her "great news". Fuming, Nooyi got the milk, and when she returned, her mother reminded her, "Leave your crown out in the garage." 

We do need an imaginary crown to remind us of how loved we are, how unique and precious we are to God. We are His sons and daughters, and that is why we need to learn how to be like His only begotten Son, who puts others first, who was an obedient servant first and foremost.