Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mind of the World


Whether we like to admit it or not, we are hinged to the mind of the world.

We are deep into world trends; we are in-step with where the world is going.  

We say what is politically correct; we are wired to what is new and hip; we are afraid to offend the LGBT group; we wear the latest fashion; we read best-selling books; we watch current blockbuster movies and TV hit shows; we have the latest gizmo; we use newly coined words; and we tweak our Biblical doctrines to make us and others feel good.

We certainly are in the groove. 

If we are not careful, we could be trapped in the abyss, and we would have a hard time escaping.

How should a Christian live in our world today? 

Colossians 3:2 (NASB) says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

Simple but difficult. Here’s a suggestion on how it could be done.

Ask yourself a second question—the more important one—each time you are in doubt about your action.

1. Will people think I am too old-fashioned?
2. Will God? 

1. Will people be happy with my decision? 
2. Will God? 

1. Will people hate me for saying this? 
2. Will God?

1. Will people ostracize me for what I am about to do?
2. Will God? 

1. Will people think I am successful and have arrived?
2. Will God? 

Clearly, Colossians 3:2 is all about the mind of God, not the mind of the world. It is about things in heaven, not things on earth.

It is where we need to ask for guidance and grace that could only come, not from the world, but from above.   

(One of our Pastor’s Sunday messages in my own 300-word reflection.)

Photo credit

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Glorious Sunday


“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." (Matthew 28:6 KJV)
Because Jesus conquered death, those who accept Him in their heart and have faith in Him will also conquer death.

Not one of those who believe in the risen Lord will remain in the grave. We, too, will rise.

Grace, not grave.  Hallelujah!

It's a day we ought to celebrate. My old header comes down.

My new one, from our painting session in church after the Easter service on the theme “A Glorious Sunday,” goes up.

Happy Easter everyone!

Photo credit: Empty tomb

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Gift of Mom


"This time, this date, and on Good Friday, too, the Lord took Mama home. Join me in prayer of thanks for the gift of Mama Chit."

This was the first test message I received this morning, sent to me by my sister Aie. She and my siblings will all be together today in our hometown to commemorate our mom’s death anniversary.

Mom suddenly left for her heavenly home on a Good Friday 11 years ago. From that day (April 18 does not fall on a Good Friday every year), we have been having special thanksgiving services on Easter Sunday.

This is the first time that the lunar calendar coincides with the solar calendar—April 18 is Good Friday. But this year, I cannot be there.  After my three-day hospital ordeal a few weeks ago, I have dreaded being too far away from my doctor.  It’s probably because I have not yet caught up with my 100% self. 

“It’s just your imagination,” JR tells me.  Or maybe it’s just a post-confinement trauma. 

Whatever it is that keeps me home today, I am with my siblings in praising and thanking God for the gift of our Mom—she who loved the color purple, and who, in life, was a vessel of God’s grace to many.

May her legacy of generosity (with her personal possessions, time, love, and everything good) live on in the hearts of her children, in-laws, grandchildren, relatives, and legions of friends.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

LOG University


Have you heard of LOG University?

Neither had I, until I re-connected with an old friend—a young and courageous missionary/pastor in a religious-intolerant country.

He's on a brief home leave and makes time to visit our church, where he used to worship. As he and I chat over pancit, served after our Mission Month celebration, our topic moves from serious writing to blogging. 

“I visit your blog regularly,” he says. “Wow, you sure are prolific!”

“Every three to four days,” I laugh. “I try to keep to that rhythm and so far, I have remained faithful for almost seven years. Stay on schedule, or you'll lose your steam.”   

“It was you who started me on blogging,” he adds.

“Me?!”

“Yes, you and JR,” he replied. (JR is my youngest son, with whom this young missionary has worked in the Lord’s service while in the Philippines.) “Both of your writings have inspired me to keep writing, too—and now on blogosphere.”

“Really? How nice!”

“I call your blog my LOG University.”

“LOG university?” I repeat like a parrot.

“Leaves of Grace University,” he explains.

“Oh.” At this point, my vocabulary runs dry. 

“It teaches me to . . .”

At this point, too, my mouth turns into a Sahara desert. A conversation such as this always humbles me, and makes me wonder how it is possible for my writing to inspire others to do the same—and how such an encounter encourages me as well. 

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

And I go back to grace—my blog’s title and only reason for existence. A LOG University begins with grace.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Looking for Directions?


Guess what is the most accurate system in providing locations. The GPS? Google Maps?

No to both. We got lost a few times using one or the other.  

There's a guaranteed, error-free way, and it's perfectly Pinoy: the tricycle driver.

Ask him how to get to where you are going, and he’ll tell you the exact and quickest route. No tricycle driver ever disappointed us yet. And I don’t think one ever will—not any time in the future. A tricycle driver, whom I call grace on the road, sure knows his path.  

This brings me to an odd but accurate comparison in locating directions: The tricycle driver and the Bible.

“Turn right on the second road, go straight till the traffic light, then turn left. It’s the second building to your right,” said the tricycle driver. We got there without delay.

The Bible gives us the most accurate and the only direction to where we should go in life. Without it, we will be lost—detouring and going around in circles—ending up on every road but the right one to our destination.

Thomas asked Jesus, “. . . We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:5-6 NLT)

Photo credit

Monday, April 7, 2014

Random


Life is not linear. It is circular, annular, orbicular, and spheroidal all at once. In short, random.

Take the passengers of flight MH 370. At the airport departure lounge, they must have been laughing or drinking or idly chatting. Then, boom, the plane is lost and to this day it is missing.

One day I was merrily blogging, the next day, bang, I was down with an ailment that rendered me useless.

My friend Yoly was planning her next trip out of town, then, with no danger signals, wham, she was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

My friend Lucy, who was experiencing tremors in California, posted on FB, "Earthquake is fine as long as it stays just that—a quake and a shake. I'm good with that. But the worst moment is waiting for what will happen next. Will the building crumble on you? Will the earth open and swallow you?"

Another friend, Gilbert, replied, “No one knows, Lucy. Tonight I was just paying for my groceries when a series of stampedes broke out because there was a gunman firing shots in MOA. Life’s random like that.”

Mr. Perchado was a struggling chauffeur all his life then, pow, his employer bequeathed to him his fleet of vehicles, including his private plane. 

Because life’s random, our last breath could come tonight. Do we know where we're headed from there?  

Amidst all our random acts of kindness and unkindness on earth, the grace of salvation is not random. It permanently resides where humans reside through God's kindness. Today is the day to take it on. 

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13 KJV)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pity Party


Say “no” when you get invited to a pity party. Stay as far away as possible!   

I got invited to one, and to my forever regret, I accepted.

My husband rushed me to the emergency room one night last week because I was looking and feeling like a disaster victim in the throes of death. Immediately, tubes were strapped on to me and all sorts of needle pricks came at me to find out what had gone haywire in my system.

They found out soon enough—potassium and sodium had dropped to precarious levels—and I had to be confined: the perfect setting for a pity party, with a hospital gown to boot.

In that three-day party, you ask yourself questions: Why me?  What did I do to deserve this? Can I take all this suffering?  Is this the end? You become so self-absorbed you fail to see and grab the grace that hover about for the taking.

I was jolted out of my self-indulgence when I read the messages in my mobile phone: 

The first one came from a friend, asking for prayers. She was due for her first chemo session but didn’t have the money. So she asked her friends to pray that her application for a loan be approved.

The second message came from another friend whose husband had a kidney transplant years ago. He’s ailing again due to organ rejection, and needed immediate cash for hospitalization.  

The third was from our pastor, reminding me of God’s love and power.

While I was wallowing in self-pity, people all around me were likewise fighting their own worse battles. I was not alone, but I chose to be, nursing my fears as though the world conspired to rip me apart.

Pity parties make you forget, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

By the power of His Spirit, I will not attend a pity party again. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What Is a Friend?


I am guilty of using the word “friend” like a tic, trivializing it. Maybe many of us are.

We refer to someone we have met a few times, or get in touch with also a few times, as “my friend,” but is she really?  Does she even consider you her friend?

Will she take a bullet for you, if necessary?
Will she drop everything to come to your rescue?   
Will she give you her most treasured possession?
Does she pray for you as often as she prays for herself?
Will/do you do all of the above for her? 

If the answer is “yes” to all, then, indeed, she is a friend. And so are you.   

Tall order. But that is how friendship is, as demonstrated to us in the Bible—between Jonathan (the son of then current king, Saul) and the would-be king, David.

When Saul wanted to kill David, Jonathan tried to avert it by speaking to his father. Then he did something more—he alerted David about his father’s plan so David could flee. "And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (Samuel 18:1)

Jonathan also gave David five things:

His robe, which symbolized his stature as prince and heir apparent. He gave it up for David.

His garments, which symbolized all the honors, battles, and credits he had won. He passed them on to David.

His sword, which was one of only two swords among the Israelites. One was owned by king Saul himself. Jonathan gave David even his self-defense.

His bow, which was Jonathan's most prized possession. He bequeathed them to David.

His girdle, which held his sword, his bow, and his garments. He gave David everything he ever owned.

The Bible says that Jesus is the offspring of David. If Jonathan could give all to David, how much more should we give Him, our King, the greatest Friend we could ever have, He who is called the son of David? 

Can we give Jesus our all? Our robe, our garments, our sword, our bow, and our girdle?

Tall order? He gave His all to us on the cross. Grace happened there. It continues to happen every day of and for our lives. It is happening now.

Photo credit

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lazy


“The first word you can find in this word-search puzzle describes you." This  message was posted by someone on his FB wall.      
 
The first word I found was “lazy.” 

I should have simply shrugged it off because it describes exactly what I try not to be. According to my friends, I am "forever spinning," "antsy," "restless,"  "always on a green light," "impatient," etc.

Maybe they are right. As soon as I wake up in the morning I need to do something or I feel like a dead duck, dishonoring the loving God Who created me. I don't even take naps, unless I am strapped to the bed sick or recuperating from an illness, which is is where I am at the moment.

I believe that "lazy" has no place in the dictionary. It shouldn't even be there. How can anyone be content sitting around (or sleeping) and doing nothing?  I think it is unconscionable to waste the abundance of grace that is given to us for our free use to lead productive lives. 

The Bible is strewn with verses on what happens to sluggards and sloth. My favorites are those that speak of the four small wonders on earth, Proverbs 30: 24-28 (MSG):  

“There are four small creatures, wisest of the wise they are—

“ants—frail as they are, get plenty of food in for the winter; marmots—vulnerable as they are, manage to arrange for rock-solid homes; locusts—leaderless insects, yet they strip the field like an army regiment; lizards—easy enough to catch, but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.”


All four tiny creatures—ants, marmots, locusts, and lizards—are anything but lazy.

Unfortunately, some bigger beings can’t be the same. Laziness, stay away!  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dear Heavenly Father


Your grace has been more than enough for my daily needs, with some overflow for those that I want. Now, you have even shown me what this means, “I have need of nothing.”

As our Jehovah Jireh, you provide your children everything. Including coming home after three days in the hospital with a debilitating ailment that came like a dark night and went with your healing.  In Psalm 34:10 (NKJV), you said, “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.”

Thank you making me see another sunrise and more in the days to come. It wasn't my appointed time to see you face-to-face.

Thank you for loved ones, friends and faith family in church whom you have called to uphold me in prayers.  

Thank you for our Pastor who has ministered to me about your power through a text message.

Thank you for the efficient caregiver you gave me in the person of my husband, who saw to all my physical needs.

Thank you for my sons who have shown their concern while I was imprisoned in tubes on a hospital bed.

Thank you for Ate Vi who took care of our home for me while we were away.

Thank you for the time to study your word and for speaking to me through a book sent by a nephew in Singapore. It was my reading staple.
 
Thank you for my two doctors and all the medical practitioners in the hospital (both in the emergency room and in room 411) who were at my beck and call.

Thank you for the hospital accommodations (that try to rival a hotel’s) and for the staff who all gave me a nod of warm welcome.

Thank you for making me glimpse yet once again, with clearer lenses, what Paul said in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

As I recover my strength, thank you for enabling me, these few minutes, to write this prayer-blog.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

All the Same?


People/acquaintances of a different faith would often say to me, “We all believe in God, so we are all the same.” 

I'd get stymied, unable to explain what I believed in, because time was short and I didn’t know how to distill the many differences. 

Up until I stumbled upon the five solae/solas. And now I can explain my faith with five fingers in five minutes.
I believe in:

1. Christ alone (solus Christus)

Only Jesus can be a mediator between God and man.  By giving His life as a ransom for my sins, I have a chance to live forever in heaven. All I need is receive Him in my heart as my only Savior. John 14:6 (NLT),  ". . . I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

2. Grace alone (sola gratia)

Only by the grace of Jesus could I be saved. By myself, my abilities, my skills, and my good works, I could never merit salvation even if I kept trying. Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”  

3. Faith alone (sola fide

Salvation is a free gift to all who accept it by faith. Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

4. Scripture alone (sola scriptura)

The Bible alone is my source of divine revelation, my source of authority and truth. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

5. Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)

Because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, we must live our entire lives for His glory alone. Self-esteem and self-importance are not alternatives to the gospel of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

“So is your faith the same as mine?” I ask after my five minutes.

The answer I usually get is silence. I fill in those silences in my books. Because I think I can write better than I can talk.

Friday, March 14, 2014

International Women's Day


A friend of mine, M, a Zonta club president, wrote me a note ending with a big "please?" and I caved in. It was an invitation to speak at a district (18 Zonta clubs) gathering to celebrate International Women's Day.

Wearing red lipstick and armed with my laptop, a flash drive, and a hard copy of my talk, "The Power of Lipstick," I entered the hallowed halls of the clubhouse that was the venue, and I was dazzled by a bevy of influential women, all leaders in their fields, sporting power clothes in the Zonta color, yellow.  

And my knees turned into jello.

What could I tell them that they haven't heard before? This is the perfumed set that travels the world, debates hot issues, breaks new ground, and advances women's status worldwide.

I did the only thing I know how to do: not talk, but tell stories. Stories of strong women of faith who so inspired me (and continue to influence my life) that I wrote about them in my books.  While preparing my speech, I realized that I have been writing about empowered women for some time and in so doing, I am also an advocate for the majority of women who are underprivileged, with only my computer in my little workroom. 

Despite my ammo that day, or because I am not a techie, my slide presentation freaked out on me. But I had one tool left—grace. When everything fails, it enables me to come through. And these photos tell the story of that successful yellow rose day.  

To say the event was beautiful would be diminishing its significance.  It was how it was meant to be: a perfect International Women's Day.  

To every woman—wearing lipstick or not—reading this post, celebrate! Like any Zonta woman, you can make a difference right where you are, with what you're doing, if you do it with excellence and gratitude.   


Monday, March 10, 2014

Signs of the Times


When our pastor posted this on his FB wall I was appalled:

Then I read this article on BBC News, and I was even more appalled.   

A survey done for the Bible Society in the UK, based on a poll of 800 children aged eight to 15 and about 1,100 parents, found almost three in 10 young people were unaware that the story of Jesus’ birth came from the Bible.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ridiculous Pink


Since when did pink become ridiculous?

Since last week, when I bought this pair of walking shoes.

No offense to pink, it is a beautiful color, it is the color of many lovely flowers, butterflies, and other wonders of creation, but when someone my age wears it, well . . .  you may finish that sentence.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Three Phone Calls from Heaven


If I were in Coldwater, Michigan, I’d have received three calls from heaven—from my dad, mom, and son Adrian, in that order. They would have said what people living in Jesus’ home would say, “We are happy.”

In Mitch Albom’s latest novel, “The First Phone Call from Heaven,” which happens in a fictitious place called Coldwater, telephones ring—and each of those calls come from heaven with this joyous message, “Everything is good here.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Peace like a River


(My DSL internet connection has been dead for four days and I am steaming. Bad. I am trying to remember wonderful times of peace to keep my mind off the heat.) 

My mother used to sing “It Is Well with My Soul” while doing house chores.  I asked her once why she loved the hymn so much. She told me this story:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Listen to the Wind


If you want to hear God’s voice, listen to the wind . . . 

I hear it especially when I am hurting, when I need His grace of comfort. As I take my early morning walks and talk to Him, the breeze surrounds me. It is so refreshing it’s like being embraced by God.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Showing Your Love


My question in our adult Sunday School class was: "Knowing how much God loves you, how do you show your love for Him?"

The  silence stretched too long so I said, “You don’t have to answer the question now. As you ponder it at your own time, try to answer this follow-up question. On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate the way you show your love?”

Friday, February 14, 2014

Big Heart


Posts on FB by friends at noon today reminded me it is Valentine’s Day. Not one in my family remembered, not even my one and only, not even Ate Vi (who usually remembers days such as Piolo’s birthday)—not even, or specially, me. 

Today is my self-imposed deadline for my new book, a devotional for the workplace, which took all of my waking (and sleeping) hours in the last few months. And so, on d-day, I had been working furiously from 4 AM on my last two entries that, ironically, took much, much longer to write than any of the 363 others.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Car Stickers


Stuck in traffic, we were behind a van with this sticker:  
A blaring ambulance had to get through so all the vehicles retreated to the sides to give it space. The van with the sticker immediately tailed the speeding ambulance and freed itself conveniently from the traffic snarl. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Piranha Theory


A story is told that a man wanted to cross a river where a piranha lived. (A piranha is a ferocious killer fish with sharp teeth and thirsts for blood.)
The man threw raw meat to the river for the piranha to feast on. After the fish had its fill, the man crossed the river safe and unharmed. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lovers of Self


Netizens are familiar with the word selfie, a photograph that one has taken of oneself with his own smartphone or webcam and uploaded to social media. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Happy New Year Again!


I greeted you on January 1. But being married to someone of Chinese descent, let me greet you again: Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin)!

Chinese New Year begins on January 31, 2014 this year.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oceans Apart


I cried oceans reading this book by Karen Kingsbury.

My heart breaks when a child suffers from and gets caught in circumstances not of his doing but of adults’. Kingsbury makes each character so real they seem to be within patting distance. You can almost feel their heartbeat or lack of it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Immortal


Why do we cling to our loved ones—playing blind to their suffering? Do we really want a long life spent in bed, with every faculty and sense gone, except pain?

Does this story sound familiar?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Spaaah!


After an exceptionally busy and productive week, we usually want to reward ourselves for a job well done. 

When I was still in the workplace, after a difficult project had been completed, my colleagues and I would head to the beauty salon or go shopping or spend a leisurely time in the spa where we would enjoy a relaxing soak in the jacuzzi and a good massage. 
I deserve it!  I would declare.   

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Deadly Deadline


I had it all mapped out.

By end of December, I should have finished two chapters. The deadline for my new book isn't till end of February so I declared, "I have enough time."

Then, bang! My trusty computer, Blackie, zonked out on Christmas Day.  I lost two days.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Big C


“Peripatetic” is the most apt word I could find to describe the big C. It goes everywhere, it is always there.

It was there in my dad’s last four years; it was in my late friends’ death beds—Mila, Sonia, Brenda, Amar, etc.; it was with Tony 20 years ago; it was with my friend Lucy and others before they went into remission; it is there, right now, in many others’ lives.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Double Delight Year Four


This school year, private schools were granted permission to raise tuition fees. The prices of goods and services are going up, too. And there is nothing we can do about it. Parents  just have to bite the bullet.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Growing in Grace


Growing big and growing old seem to go hand-in-hand.

I can say this with authority as I continue to traverse the road toward numerical maturity. I can't speak for the rest of the baby boomers of my generation, but I have certainly grown bigger in many dimensions with every calendar page thrown away.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Borrowed Time


Of all days, my computer died on me on Christmas day. It's the worst thing that can happen to a writer whose lifework is in it—and who has a deadline to meet. 

It started ailing on Christmas eve, but my son JC worked his magic and it was healthy again. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Giving


Scenes of the Christmas season that make me uneasy are uniformed guards in private subdivisions brandishing or jiggling a Christmas gift box with a huge slit.

Their thought balloon, It's Christmas, this is where you put your cash gift. 

Beside their security post is a huge gift-wrapped box with an open top. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Astonishing Birthday


No celebration can be as astonishing as the birth itself. It was rightly foretold, and when it happened, the world was never the same again. We have been gifted with Hope for an astonishing future that never ends. 

Our own celebration in our small household was pretty much the same as in previous years, but the joy took on a different form. Which is what makes every year something to look forward to—the new surprises wrapped in grace.