4/28/2014

God Is Where You Are


In the Bible, Jacob was on a long journey to find the girl he would marry. On his way there, who would he meet?

God.

He appeared to Jacob in a dream and made a promise to always be with him and bless him. 

In Genesis 28:16 we read, “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!’”

How glorious it would be for us today to also meet God the same way!

Well, God is here. But where?

In the doctor’s clinic where a friend learns she has breast cancer. In the funeral parlor where a mother grieves the passing of her son. In a war zone where a soldier fears for his life. In prison, where an inmate suffers pangs of conscience. In an office where someone just lost his job.

Where?

In all the places where we long for a loved one far away, where we wait for an unfaithful  spouse’s transformation, where we seek the forgiveness of someone we have wronged, where we fellowship with our faith family.  

Where?

In all the places where we need protection, comfort, wisdom, discernment, peace, courage, self-control.

God is in our home, in our circles, and in our place of work, too. We simply need to call on Him and believe in His presence. 

God is . . .
Dear God, make me feel Your peace in all the places where I need You. Amen.

"I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!" (Psalm 139:7 NLT)

***

(Note: This is one of the entries in my new book, "Grace@Work," a devotional for the workplace, to be launched in September this year.)  

4/24/2014

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

4/20/2014

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

4/18/2014

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.

4/15/2014

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.

4/11/2014

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

4/07/2014

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)

4/03/2014

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.