Wednesday, January 24, 2018

WOYWW: Planting Seeds

Starting my sketchbook for the
Sketchbook Project, a crowd funded sketchbook museum.

“A farmer went out to plant some seed...other seed fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was 30, 60, and even a hundred times as much as planted.” Mark 4:3-8


Who is the farmer planting seeds in Jesus’ parable? Jesus explains to His disciples that the farmer is whoever brings His message to others. It is you and me. We who have been entrusted with the good news should be ready to “throw” the good seeds far and wide, generously and indiscriminately, using any means at our disposal. Some seeds may fall on deaf ears, and some may be received enthusiastically at first. Many people are too busy or too filled with anxiety to listen, but there are some we reach at just the right time.

I listen to the Youtube recordings of Ravi Zacharias a lot. It is fascinating how he makes God’s message riveting and I have no doubt many have been convinced to investigate Christianity because of him and his ministry. But when Ravi was 17 years old, he was the one in need of the Word. It was planted in his parched heart by John Tiebe, a Youth for Christ Director who came to visit him in the hospital after he had committed suicide. Tiebe left a Bible opened to John 14:9, “Because I live, you too will live.” Ravi accepted that word and it produced a hundred fold harvest.

When John Tiebe died, Ravi called his daughter. The daughter told Ravi that before her father passed away, he had been listening to Ravi’s talks for weeks. I can imagine how happy, how gratified he felt to see a concrete reward for his life’s work.

We may not see so dramatic a conversion from our planting of seeds, but we need to know there is a very compelling reason to continue to sow with conviction. The enemy is planting seeds too. He is not stingy with his poisonous, deadly seeds. We can see how he works faster and faster, how he deceives more and more gullible people into believing their own lies.

Lord, here I am, use me. Teach me to be a sower of Your good seed. 




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

Blessings!
Patsy  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dancing with Abandon

“Then David...came dancing before the Lord with abandon...” 
2 Samuel 6:14

I’ve never danced before the Lord with abandon, with all my might, and soul and breath. But the times I’ve given myself fully to worship Him have been exhilarating and freeing. When we worship, we unite ourselves with God, with the Maker of heaven and earth. We unite ourselves with beauty, with truth, with all that is and ever will be. We are one with all the angels singing praise to the One they know without any doubt as the One True King. We are in harmony with all the saints, the martyrs who gave their blood, sweat and tears because as Jim Elliot wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”


Although I cannot imagine myself dancing with King David, I can imagine myself jumping, shouting, singing out loud in jubilation. I cannot wait for the day we leave behind all the ambiguity of this world, the penchant of people nowadays to make their own reality and believe it to be true. Where is honor? Where is righteousness? One cannot worship where there is no truth! Jesus said in Matthew 15:8-9: “This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me. Their worship is a farce...”

Lord, forgive us for our many sins. Forgive me, Lord. I do not want to be a hypocrite. I want to worship You in spirit and truth. May I treasure You above all things.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Enemy at the Door

“If a household is divided...that household will not stand.” Mark 3:25



The scribes in Jesus’ day could not explain Jesus’ miracles and they decided, “He is possessed by Beelzebul. He casts out demons by the ruler of demons!” Jesus called them and explained, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If Satan opposes himself, his kingdom is divided, and it cannot stand.”

Yes, our ancient enemy continues to work today, and he is so successful, many people think he and his minions don’t exist. He is delighted when we scoff and say, “The devil? What a lot of nonsense!” But the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” 

We don’t see our enemy, but the battlefield is our mind. Just as the devil in the garden convinced Eve that disobeying God was in her best interest, so he tries to convince us to give him a foothold in our lives. What we think of as little sins, gives the enemy a foot in the door. 

The best way to deal with him is to cast him out when he tries to toy with our emotions and thinking. We should not allow him space in our mind. Negative thoughts that make us insecure, or make us think others are against us, be gone! We should learn to recognize temptations, deceptions, and accusations, so we can rebuke them before they find a space to park. 

St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled (deceived) Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” 

Jesus, You came to give us victory. Thank You for the armor and the weapons You gave us so we can be victors against the enemy who wants to destroy our peace, our joy, our love for You and our brothers and sisters. Continue to teach us Your ways! 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Follow Me

“Come follow me...” Mark 1:17



A lot of us claim to be followers of Jesus but do we really know what it entails? If we listen to some evangelists, all we need to do is say the sinner’s prayer and we are saved. But first and foremost, Jesus declared, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” 

Repentance is a turning away from sin and returning to God. Today many make their own definition of sin, and think truth is relative. The Gospel has been replaced by memes on social media and viral feel good lists. Some put great value in knowing what is happening to celebrities more than knowing what God considers good and what He has declared plain wrong. Facebook has replaced prayer and people doubt beliefs even before believing in anything. 

The world is changing but whatever happens, we can stand on rock if we stand on Jesus’ words. “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life,” said He who is the Word made flesh. If we want to know the truth, the truth can be found by anyone genuinely seeking. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Out of His Mind

“He is out of His mind.” Mark 3:21



In another of my Bibles it says, “He has lost his senses.” Why did Jesus’ own people, His own relatives, conclude that of Him? This time it was because there was a multitude clamoring for His attention, He could not even find time to eat. But if Jesus really wanted to eat, He could surely do it as He found time to pray every day. Eating was not on top of His priorities. Preaching the Word, healing, exorcising, these were what He needed to do in the 3 years He had on earth. 

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Sebastian. I am sure people thought he was crazy too. Instead of enjoying His privileged life as a son of a rich man, an officer of the Imperial Roman army, and Captain of the Praetorian Guard, what did he do? He infuriated Emperor Diocletian by visiting the prisoners incarcerated because of Diocletian's persecution of Christians. When the Emperor found out that Sebastian was a Christian, he ordered him tied to a stake to be used for target practice. Riddled with arrows, he was left for dead. Irene of Rome found him still breathing and nursed him back to life. Once he was well enough to walk, Sebastian went in search of the Emperor and tried to convert him, pleading with him to stop torturing and murdering Christians. Enraged, Diocletian ordered Sebastian clubbed to death! This time, Sebastian was well and truly dead. 



Crazy? Foolish? Insane? Lunatic? Sebastian certainly was a fool for Christ! He bet everything, even his very life, for the truth he believed in. How about us? Are we willing to invest our time, resources, our life, for a retirement plan that is out of this world? 

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Serious Thing

“It is a serious thing to attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord Himself has chosen him.” 
1 Samuel 24:6



King Saul was searching for David with 3000 men in order to kill him. Even though Saul hunted him down day after day, he and his men could not find David. One day, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. David was inside the dark cave with his men and it would have been so easy for David to take the King’s life but he did not. “It is a serious thing to attack the Lord’s anointed one,” David rebuked his men who were prodding him to take Saul’s life. 

What has happened today when men’s lives are so cheap? Crime is committed by young people, old people, against babies, against grandmothers. But it’s not just killing and big crimes we have to worry about. 

Before Luigi and I got married, our ninang (godmother) gave me advice. “Always see Luigi through God's eyes.” We are all beloved of God, sons and daughters of God. God loves each of us so much. Peter said to the Christians, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation...” (1 Peter 2:9). We are a people set apart. “You did not choose me, but I choose you” (John 15:16). 

When we attack our brothers and sisters with words it is a serious thing. Words are weapons too, and we can destroy lives with words, especially today with social media. Young people commit suicide because they were targeted with cruelty. 

Let us choose our words well. Be kind, compassionate and generous with encouragement. We may not know it but somebody’s life may depend upon it. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

My Tears in Your Vial

"My wanderings you have counted. You keep track of all my sorrows. Are not my tears stored in your vial, recorded in Your book?” Psalm 56:8



Many Jewish customs are fascinating. I do not know if it is still done today, but before, each Jewish child was given a small bottle which they are supposed to keep until death. They were supposed to collect one tear from every time they experience a sadness or tragedy in their life. They were also to collect tears from everyone who experienced this sadness with them. At the time of their death, the tear jar would be buried with them, and they would give the bottle to God to show how much hardship they had undergone. 

There is no doubt that the Jews have gone through more than their fair share of suffering. The death camp in Auschwitz is evidence enough. People have visited there and it changed their life completely. Some could not go through all the rooms were human hair was stocked, where there were pictures of the people experimented on by Josef Mengele. This man who should not be called a doctor, conducted research on twins, babies, dwarves, etc. and performed forced sterilization and castrations on  men and women. 

Of the estimated 1.3 million people deported by the SS and police in 1940-45, 1.1 million of them were murdered in gas chambers and so-called science experiments. Tears? I should think Jews are very familiar with tears. But how did their “extermination” start and why did Germany, this brilliant country, go along with it? 

I am sure the answer is complicated, but I can see stirrings here in the Philippines. One charismatic man with obnoxious ideas, with no moral compass, and a lot of sycophants around him with no spine to speak out against evil and wrongdoing, that is our problem. 

But that man does not know there is a God who knows exactly how many hairs are on his head, how many lies he’s told, and how many people he has had killed. There is a God who hears our prayers and sees our tears. We have to continue to pray, do what we can where we are with what we have. We have to remember the battle is against spiritual forces of evil, and pray hard. But let us not be afraid or discouraged for the battle is not ours but the Lord’s. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WOYWW: The Battle



Here is what I’ve been busy with. I take scraps from old clothes and pin them together for someone to embroider and make into purses. I quite enjoy it. I used to embroider them myself but then I couldn’t sell it! 



“The battle is the Lord’s...” 
1 Samuel 17:47

What would have happened if David did not know the Lord? There would be no story of him slaying Goliath. He would not have been king. David was a confident boy, but his confidence was clearly from His relationship with God. Even if his oldest brother Eliab put him down and angrily asked, “What are you doing here at the battlefield? You’re supposed to be taking care of your pitiful sheep!” 

But this did not deter David. He declared for all to hear, “Who is this Goliath, this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” 

What we can accomplish has a lot to do with our image of God, what we believe of Him, what we know of Him, what we have experienced with Him.  David shouted, “The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!” They had a lot of history together, David and the Lord. They had a relationship. He was not afraid of the giant Goliath that made the battle weary Israelite army quiver and run away in fright. 

“You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied...All this multitude shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. For the battle is the Lord’s and He shall deliver you into our hands,” David proclaimed.

Whatever battle we face, we have God at our side. But it will not matter one iota if we don’t know it, or we don’t know Him. We need to have a relationship with Him, we need a history with Him, so we can be confident of His help, wisdom, and His winning the battle for us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Into Our Heart

“Not as man sees does God see, ...the Lord looks into the heart.” 
1 Samuel 16:7



When God rejected Saul as King, He asked the prophet Samuel to anoint the next king. Samuel went off to Bethlehem and invited Jesse and his sons as the Lord instructed. One by one, Samuel tried to second guess the Lord. “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”, Jesse would think as he saw Eliab and Jesse’s other sons, but the Lord chose none of them. He had chosen Jesse’s youngest son David who was out in the fields watching sheep! 

What did God see in David when He looked into His heart? He was far from perfect but what we can see is when he sinned against God he was deeply repentant. He loved God’s law. He wrote about half of the Psalms and in it, David’s heart was humbly turned towards God. He delighted in God’s word and meditated on it. 

Saint Paul’s revelation about David is found in the Book of Acts: “After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22). 

Father, help me to be a delight to You. Forgive me of my many sins. May I do everything You want me to do! 

http://patsypat.blogspot.com

Monday, January 15, 2018

Obedience

“Obedience is better than sacrifice.” 
1 Samuel 15:22



King Saul had to learn the hard way that God was displeased with him because of his disobedience. In Deuteronomy 8, a chapter in the Old Testament Jesus liked to quote from, we see a picture of what we would be like if we disobeyed God. Verse 19 reads, “But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods...you will certainly be destroyed.” 

In the novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” written by Oscar Wilde in 1890, it tells of a handsome man who had his portrait painted. Gray, in his vanity, sells his soul to preserve his looks and ensure that the painting instead would age. Not only did the painting age, it showed evidence of every sin and crime Gray committed as he slipped more and more into an amoral and decadent lifestyle. 

It may be that we live a righteous life, we fast on days we are obligated to, we say 2000 Hail Marys with our church group, and we give alms to the poor. What is the portrait of our soul that God sees? Are we obedient to Him, humble not arrogant, loving towards our neighbors? Or are we like the Pharisees who like to make an outward show of their holiness and obedience to the smallest letter of the law? 

Father, show us the way to Your heart! 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

What are You looking for?

“What are you looking for?” 
John 1:38



When two of John the Baptist disciples started following Jesus as he walked, Jesus asked, “What are you looking for? What are you searching for? What do you want?”

I wager all of us are looking for something, searching for something, wanting something. The question is if what we are searching for will matter in the perspective of eternity. One hopes that amidst all we go after, some part of our time and effort goes to the quest for truth. 

My family serves in the QC Jail and we know of many inmates who claim to be innocent of the crime they’ve been accused of. One man was accused of rape of a special child and he said he was nowhere near where the mother of the child claimed he was. He told us the mother was asking him for money to withdraw her accusation. If he was guilty of the crime, he was a horribly vile person. If he was telling the truth, the mother was the vile person who did not care that this man’s life was changed forever, and he was little better than an animal in the jail. It turned out that Frank was telling the truth and a friend was able to track down a woman who testified that he was fixing electric fans in her office on the date in question. 



Truth matters terribly in court cases, where matters of life or death are sometimes decided. In one 1966 Time magazine cover, it trumpeted, “Is God dead?” Last March 2017, Time magazine repeated the bold red and black cover, asking, “Is truth dead?” 

Man can’t kill God, and can’t kill the truth no matter how hard we try. We can deceive ourselves as many of us do, about what is really important. But I think the most important pursuit we can have in our short time here on earth is to go after the truth. It’s a matter of life and death. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Follow Him

“Follow me.” Mark 2:14



In my other Bible, this verse reads, “Come, be my disciple.” I believe that this invitation is issued to every one of us. It does not matter if we’re a nuclear physicist, a grade school teacher, Uber driver or theologian. The call is the same. God chooses us because He loves us. 

Levi was a despised tax collector when Jesus found him sitting at his customs post. Peter was a fisherman. Well known apologist Ravi Zacharias was a failure in many ways. He tried to commit suicide by ingesting poison from the Chemistry lab in his university. While in the hospital, the Youth for Christ director left a Bible, with a verse marked for him to read: “Because I live, you will also live.” (John 14:19) The doctor asked him, “Do you really want to live? We can make you live again by getting the poison out. But we cannot make you want to live.”

In the hospital, Ravi prayed, “Jesus, if you are the One who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it. Please get me out of this hospital bed well, and I promise I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth." He kept that promise. Today he is a charismatic and visionary speaker, an apologist who leads a team of global speakers defending and articulating the Gospel and our Christian faith. We can say he is very successful. But there are many followers of Christ who are not so well known, sowing seeds as they drive taxis, serve meals, sew clothes in a little room. God does not choose us because we are successful, charismatic, intelligent. He chooses us, period. The question is, do we choose Him? 

Friday, January 12, 2018

In My Heart

“Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?” Mark 2:8



I am sure the scribes were aghast that Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking. We can be sure that God knows what’s in our hearts as well. Even if we fool ourselves into thinking we are searching for the truth, we want God to be first in our lives, we can’t deceive God.  



What are we reading? What are we watching? What do we spend our money on? What do we use our time for? Who do we admire? The answers to these questions will tell us exactly what is important to us. Can we say that God and God’s ways are important to us if we don’t even open His Word? God knows what we are thinking and what is valuable to us. We should too. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Make Me Clean

“If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Mark 1:40




A leper approached Jesus, knelt down and begged, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”


Jesus then touched him and said, “I am willing. Be clean!” Immediately the leper was healed. Does anyone know why one person gets healed and another doesn’t? When my mom was diagnosed with tongue cancer, we prayed, confessed healing scriptures, brought her to priests with the charismatic gift of healing, went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes and Padre Pio’s San Giovanni Rotondo. 5 years after the diagnosis, the Father chose to take her home. I am remembering my mom today because tomorrow would have been her 83rd birthday. She left us almost 3 years ago. 


God could have healed her, but by the time it was clear He wanted her home, he healed ME of my fear of death, specifically my mom’s death. I thought I would be devastated. My mom was my best friend and there was hardly a day we did not talk. We went to daily mass together in the mornings and we would dawdle before going home telling stories and talking about anything under the sun. Amazingly, the day God took her last breath, I had real joy in my heart. God gave me the gift of knowing mommy was going to a place He designed for us. She would not be in any pain or suffering anymore. No more crying only an indescribable peace, joy and love. Of course I wanted that for my mom! And I am sure we want that for ourselves as well! 




For now Lord, make us clean of sin, unforgiveness, resentment, anything that separates us from You. And when the time comes, accompany us to our real home where we are awaited by our loved ones who have gone on before us. 


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

WOYWW: Connecting to the Commander



Starting with my new planner, available at our shop, papemelroti.
Inside it’s got some questions to think about. 


“Everyone is asking for you.” Mark 1:37



Jesus was very tired after a busy day. He and His companions, Simon, Andrew, James and John had gone to the synagogue as it was a Sabbath. Jesus taught with such authority that many were caught with amazement. Then at the same synagogue an evil spirit confronted Him and He exorcised the spirit. After the service, He left and visited Simon and Andrew’s home, and healed the mother-in-law of Simon. At sunset, because word had reached many people about Him, a horde of sick and demon-possessed people were at the door. Many gathered to watch as he healed them all. 

Did Jesus rest after this? He woke long before daybreak the next day and went out alone to the wilderness and prayed. If Jesus had to pray, found it necessary to connect to the Father, shouldn’t we prioritize taking the time to do so? Sometimes we say we have so much to do, there just isn’t enough time, so much calls for our attention. 

Simon and the others went off to find Him. When they did, they said, “Everyone is looking for you!” Sound familiar? So many people are asking us to meet with them, so many asking us to do this or do that, attend this, attend that, plan this, plan that. My planner is so full of activities and a TO DO list, and the year has hardly started! 

What did Jesus do? Did He rush off with His disciples to heal those waiting at the door again? That’s a good thing to do, isn’t it? But He said, “We must go to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too, because that is why I came.” He was very clear about His “battle plan”. And it’s all because He went to His commander. 

Life is a constant battle. There are so many good things to do. How do we choose what would make the biggest difference, the biggest impact? Lord, may we go to You, for wisdom, for strength, for our instructions.



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

Blessings!
Patsy  

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Troubles and Heartaches

“I am very sad. I was only pouring out my troubles to the Lord.” 
1 Samuel 1:15



Hannah was very sad, in anguish even. She was one of the two wives of Elkanah. The other wife, Peninnah had children and she would cruelly taunt Hannah because Hannah had none. We all have troubles, don’t we? And sometimes they get magnified because of cruelty from others. There are so many depressing stories about how high school kids are driven to suicide because of other kids targeting them on social media. They are driven to taking their lives because they believe it’s the only way out of their terrible situation. 

Hannah had a husband who loved her. He said, “Why be so sad just because you have no children? You have me- isn’t that better than having 10 sons?” But Hannah did not think so and she went to the Tabernacle and prayed hard, so hard that the priest thought she was drunk! 

Eli the priest wanted to throw her out! “How long will you make a drunken show of yourself!” I can be like that sometimes, so unsympathetic and judgmental!  Poor Hannah had to tell Eli that she was only so desperate that she had to pour out her troubles to the Lord. If we are like Hannah, with so many challenges, we should focus on the Lord for He will surely hear and answer. We should also count our blessings, as her husband said, he loved her very much. When our hearts are filled with gratitude, there will be less space for our troubles. 



As I read this story of Hannah, I am reminded too that we should always always see others with compassion and empathy. We don’t always know what’s going on in our neighbors’, our classmates’, officemates’ lives. We should always, always practice kindness and try to do what we can to ease one another’s burdens. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

Seek the Lord

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways, says the Lord.” 
Isaiah 55:8



Where do we get the idea that we can understand God? Know God? Explain God? Our brains are just too puny and simple to contain the God who created the complexities of the universe. And yet little by little, brilliant minds like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and all those Nobel prize winning physicists and astronomers, have been able to discover and describe how God has put His system together revealing His amazing design. 

In the same way, there are some things He reveals to us in His Word about how He wants us to relate to Him and to our brothers and sisters, His children. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29

“Seek the LORD while He may be found.” (Isaiah 55:6a) Indeed if we can seek Him, we can find Him. And if He could be known in the Old Testament, it should be easier for us to get to know Him today, because Jesus came and walked the earth, and spoke our language. Jesus tells Philip in John 14:9, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” 

Lord, may we see You and hear You and experience You the way You want us to. May we not be the ones to put barriers up to prevent You from reaching us, even to the depths of our heart. May we not hide from you in our guilt and shame and unworthiness. 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Where is Jesus?

 "Where is the new born King of the Jews?" Matthew 2:2




If we seek Him, we will find Him. This is what God promised in Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” And so the Magi from the East set off to find Him. Mystery surrounds these men from the East. In an ancient Syriac manuscript found in the Vatican, “Revelations of the Magi”, they are described as monk-like mystics, descendants of Seth, “guardians of an age-old prophecy that a star of indescribable brightness would someday appear heralding the birth of God in human form”. They set off from far away determined to find God and they found Him. They probably did not expect to find Him in miserable circumstances, but they offered Him their treasures. Traditionally, we think there were three of them because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but in Eastern Christian churches, they believe there were actually 12 Wise Men. 


Are we like the Magi, these Wise Men, in that we are determined to seek God, even through deserts and the wilderness of our lives? Contrast their hearts with the heart of King Herod who asked the Wise men, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so I may also go and pay him homage.” God knew Herod was not seeking Jesus to pay Him homage but to destroy Him. 


We may think we can never be like Herod, but every time we put ourselves before God, our ways before God’s ways, we try to destroy God’s throne because we want to sit on it. Lord, may I seek You with everything in me, so when someone asks, “Where is King Jesus?”, I can say, “He is in my heart!”