Monday, December 30, 2013


*(see photo credit list)
What and how many gifts did you receive this Christmas? 

I'm sure that whatever they were -- cheap or expensive, useful or not -- you gladly received them, especially if they came from loved ones.

But did you savor the best gift of all -- Jesus? Unequalled. Irreplaceable. Our friend for all the seasons of our lives.

Jesus has no expiry date like some of the gifts which we briefly appreciated -- because we either immediately consumed them, stashed them (no use for the immediate future), or recycled them for others because budget or time prevented us from shopping for everyone. 

Through Jesus, God gives us brand new grace every day, just like freshly squeezed orange juice. New sweetness. New tanginess. New refreshing. New nutrition.

*(see photo credit list)
"The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

As we welcome the new year, the one who sits on heaven's throne reminds us: 

"Look, I am making everything new! Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true." (Revelations 21:5)

I don't know about you, but I'm just plain sick and tired of sitting through replays -- recollections of my self-produced soap operas: bitter or ill feelings about others, regrets, unforgiveness, resentments, fears, worries, sad experiences, and the litany of apologies for things I failed to accomplish. 

Frankly, even if I sent out invitations, no one would attend my pity parties. 

But only Jesus would. That is, if I allowed Him to be the Star of the party; with self pity and self-centeredness relegated to the bleachers. My old self may scream and rant, but if I get into the habit of having Jesus as my anchorman, center-of-the-universe-me should soon revolve around the Son who really is the Master of this universe. 

Because if He permanently resides in our hearts, we too must let Him be: Lord of even our emotions and thought processes. 

In His presence is joy forevermore, strength, peace, and an assurance that even if the earth rocks-and-rolls to the beat of a 7.5 earthquake or a tsunami of a problem comes battering, you can believe that He will keep you safe in the palm of His mighty hand. 

Jesus is still the great news ever, even as we welcome the new year.

Many believe 2014 will bode well for many, it being the year of the horse, "whose spirit stands for an energetic, warm-hearted, intelligent and able attitude," says a website.

But would't you agree that placing one's hope in or even identifying ourselves with a zodiac sign or any created being is a bit of a stretch? The horse is just that -- a horse, wielding nothing more than horsepower, or what your airconditioning motor fires out to cool your room. 

*(see photo credit list)
Anchor your life on Jesus who completed the work -- all we would ever need for life and godliness -- for us! He says in Revelations 21:6: "It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega -- the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty, I will give freely from the springs of the water of life."

He has our past, present and future covered. How refreshingly and thirst-quenchingly cool is that!

May Jesus, our Great News ever, be the center of 2014!

*Photo credits:;;

Monday, December 23, 2013

(Originally published in the Campus Crusade for Christ  newsletter)

It's all too painful. This nation dubbed as the happiest in the world must be reeling from some kind of multiple sclerosis, its head not knowing left from right, right from wrong. 

"What were they thinking?" might be a question all of us wanted to pound our lawmakers with, after the 10 billion peso Napoles-cum-lawmaker PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Funds) scam blew in their faces. 

So all this time, we were being taken for a ride? Our taxes not spent for their intended purpose? No wonder our politicians cheat and bribe and even kill to get elected. And no wonder barrio folks don't even have access to clean drinking water and electricity. 

What is so current about electricity if it sputters and dies on a daily basis and people just could not go about their normal way of living—or making a living? And we're surprised that they brave mega-populated Metro Manila to get a job—any job! 

You have, of course, read all the back and forth on why typhoon Yolanda was more tragic than it should have been. With communities summarily destroyed and thousands of families grieving—for their dead, their presumed dead and their stolen past—experts say the physchological cost of rebuilding will be astounding. 

One would assume that if the Philippines hosts more than 20 typhoons a year, we'd be a more organized event planner so that when Yolanda's cousins come bursting, we'd be ready with our battalions of to-go defenders, responders and aid. 

Oh, we could list a litany of laments. And I'm sure you're sick and tired of that. Enough! 

Haven't we gotten the message yet? Isn't it too obvious, as obvious as the clear morning light, that this merry or sorry-go-round of tragedies and social ills could not be solved or remedied by politics or pow-wow? 

Businesses could only do so much. Every child must have access to education, but even that is not enough. As a matter of fact, we're one of the best exporters of labor—highly skilled, professional and English speaking workers. 

Because neither employers with their strict code of ethics, nor education with its teachings on life values and principles, can tame the wild pasaway beast inside. 

Just look at how drivers cross the red light or take the lane supposedly for oncoming vehicles. Consider the under-the-table shenanigans not only in government offices but also in businesses. Note the statistics of separated couples or teenage pregnancies. 

And yet, even more developed economies are not immune from all these nor the natural calamities which batter us year in and year out. All these are signs of things to come. 

Matthew 26:7,8,12 remind us that there will be famines and earthquakes in various places; that there will be an increase in wickedness and that the love of many will grow cold; and yet, these are just the beginning of birth pains. The earth as we know it will no longer be the same.

Yet, we still have hope for our nation: 

Psalm 33:12—Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance. 

Isaiah 9:6—For to us a child is born,  to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. 

It has been a constant refrain, and we all need to ring it louder as the day of His coming draws near: Preach Jesus. Live Jesus. Model Jesus. 

And let's continue to pray for our leaders, because unless Jesus takes the lead over their lives, the lord greed and I-Me-Myself—with no regard for the welfare of our people—will continue to consume them. 

For many of us at the Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) and the people we've reached, Jesus has indeed become our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. Wouldn't it be nice if Jesus would be all these—not just a name in their consciousness—in the lives of our loved ones, neighbors, communities and most especially our leaders?

I became a believer when someone from CCC shared Jesus with me. I didn't know I was lost until I found—rather I've been found by—Him. Like everyone of our kababayans walking around and believing themselves to be gods and masters of their destinies, I realized soon enough that I was INDEED a sinner, but could be saved and transformed by His grace. Then I realized: My heart has been changed, and could indeed OBEY Him!

That's the gift everyone needs to receive this Christmas and all the days of their lives. 

Jesus is Immanuel, the God who is with us!

Change? Yes! Only Jesus can make it happen. Because He resides in our hearts. He is our Shelter. Let the rains and the winds batter. If the greatest One lives in me, of whom—or  what—shall I be afraid? 

We as a nation need never be afraid.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Let me be a party pooper as you prepare for your next Christmas affair. 

You've by now prettified your house, bedecked your Christmas tree with tinsels, balls, flowers and ribbons. Maybe even invaded Divisoria or Rustan's -- depending on your budget -- to make sure you didn't miss anyone in your Christmas gift list. 

And not to forget the parties! What food to prepare. The presents. What fineries to wear. For half a dozen parties, reunions and nights out. 

Just listing all the above made me woozy. Does Christmas have to be this stressful? I ask that every Christmas time. And someone always reminds me: 

"It stimulates the economy -- all this buying and selling."

"Life would be a complete bore if we didn't have this long holiday of feel-good carols, partying, niceties and gift-giving."  

How about answering this question: Is it good for your soul? A definite, "Yes!"

Delete the stress, Christmas is a must! Christmas celebration as we've all been accustomed to may be demanding, frenzied and tiring, but it is all up to us to ferret out the diamond from the rough. 

Go ahead, shop, party and relish all the puto-bumbong, bibingka, castanas and jamon served before you. I enjoy every bit of these even if my doctor scolds me later for laryngeal over-use and heightened cholesterol, sugar and triglyceride levels. 

And because you may have received your bonus and have some extra cash, bless your loved ones and others in need. 

But remember that all these are just the garnishings of Christmas.

If by chance any of these peripherals could not be served, Christmas remains to be the most important event for anyone and for humankind.

Think of our kababayans who lost their loved ones and material possessions to the recent typhoon and last year's typhoon Yolanda. Consider the poorest nations of Africa who don't even have access to clean water, good nutrition and decent medical care because their leaders have abandoned them. 

We don't even need to go far. Metro Manila teems with poor people living in shanties and boxes for their shelter under bridges. 

Jesus came that the those living in darkness may see the light (Matthew 4:6). 

One way or the other, we are all in darkness -- beset not only by material lack but emptiness of the soul. Hopelessness, addiction of some form, lust, greed, selfishness -- the list is endless. Statistics have proven that the most number of suicides occur during this season, especially in rich countries! So the tinsels and trimmings don't make for gladness.

Jesus knew precisely what we needed: Immanuel, meaning God with us! Sin has separated us from Him. So He gave us Jesus. Confess Him as our Savior and Lord and He starts to take residence in our minute-by-minute existence. 

He's not after being celebrated as a pageant king only at Christmas time or holy week or just on Sundays. He wants to be our Resident Physician, Teacher, Provider, Strength, Peace, Grace, Mercy and whatever else you need to fill your empty life with, 24/7.

Isaiah 9:6 -- "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Luke 2:13-14 -- Angels appeared with a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." 

Christmas is all about God's peace to those who please Him. Wouldn't He be pleased if we received Jesus as our most cherished gift? With or without the peripherals, CHRISTmas won't just be merry, but joyful. 

Have a merry Christmas! Remember, Christ is the reason for the season. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why? Why? Why?

When calamities strike, we look around for someone or something to point a finger to.

Is global warming to blame? So why aren't the responsible parties doing something to stem its tide?

Was the government negligent, not preparing enough with quick rescue-search-aid-response—when we know that more than 20 typhoons regularly visit our country every year?

Scientists responded: "Blame the higher sea level in these parts. Mix that with hot tropical temperatures and you have a recipe for disaster like what we're always experiencing, year in and year out."

These past few days had all just been a cacophony of questions.

One such question has been hard to answer: "Why would God allow this?"

God needn't justify Himself. But it's only when we seek Him would our questions be answered. God wants us to remember... 

Deutoronomy 8:7-9a: "He's bringing us to a good land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills, a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey, a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing..." 

Hopelessness, hunger and lack is never our kababayans' end state. Tribulation is just part of the process. One day, we will reunite with those who have gone before us—even those who perished in this recent tragedy—and all of our whys will be answered. He will turn everyone's mourning into rejoicing. 

But Jesus himself gave us a heads up. He didn't want us to be ignorant. We have been warned. Tribulations will come, their intensity magnifying as the end draws near. 

In Matthew 24, He spoke of the end of days and how people's hearts will turn from him—but promising to keep in perfect peace those who trust Him. Old testament prophets and His Revelation describe terrible days ahead. The earth as we know it will perish, but in its place will be established a glorious city with Jesus as King and we will eternally rejoice with Him. 

So do not be clueless about what lies ahead. Jesus has constantly been knocking at hearts. "I am the Answer." "The Way, the Truth and the Life." (John 14:6) He promised to save those who would call upon His name. 

I don't doubt at all that when tragedies strike, those who call on His name—as if hanging by a thread or kapit sa patalim—will be saved. Remember the thief crucified with Jesus? He promised to bring him to paradise ASAP!

It's all too hard to comprehend—the devastation, dead bodies strewn all over, the overwhelming desperation. All these are heart-wrenching; so we ask, "Where is God? How could He allow such horrors?" 

Oh how we mourn, and search for answers everywhere. There just seems to be no answers. I just could not comprehend it. But going back to His Word reminded me of these...

God wants us to remember:

He is our Maker. Remember, we are but dust! He breathed life into clayey form, naming it Adam. Unless we're willing to concede that you and I are but created beings—and that Jesus, the Word, is our blueprint for success—then we will be in constant pride mode, shaking our fists at heaven whenever a tragedy occurs. 

That's what He's been doing all along—reaching out to us. "Look to Me. Heed My instructions. Repent. Humble yourselves." And He will restore back to you what the locust has stolen, or what the waters and the wind have broken—either in this life or our ultimate destination, our eternal home. 

From the beginning of time, He had a plan. Even when man sinned, He wanted him back. God loves us, that's why He sent Jesus to save us from ourselves. But God's business is not just about rescuing us from the natural elements—though that is not impossible with Him—but for us to be restored back to Him so that we can be rescued into eternity. 

He is more interested in saving us from our pride so that when or before our end comes, we can be sure of our eternity with him. 

So will things get worse? Yes! Should we be fearful? Yes, in the natural. But there is no fear Christ. He promised to hold our lives at the palm of His hand.

He's been patiently knocking and nudging and whispering and calling. Do not trust in your money or your dwellings or your education (Deutoronomy 8:12,13,17). Entrust your life to Jesus. Savior. King. Lord of all and Lord of whatever deep pit you may have sunk into. 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs 1:7. He will instruct us to live our days productively, successfully.
And we can demonstrate His love and compassion to those who hurt and cry and are hungry and naked. 

During times like these, let's allow ourselves—those who are now praising God that we've been spared from this calamity—to become the Jesus they have been searching for. Then they will have hope, and know in their hearts that Jesus loves, heals, cares, provides, embraces and saves.

Jesus, heal our hearts. Heal our land. May no other name be glorified.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Which has the capacity to sting and immobilize people into
helplessness, even through future generations?

Which tickles your ears soooo good that when you come out of church every Sunday, you only remember the heart-warming blessings and grace parts—but never learn about His justice?

And which line has the devil used time and again to drive lawmakers' backs against the wall so that they have no other choice but craft voter-appeasing laws even if they are contrary to the absolute truths taught in the bible?

"You've got to be politically correct!" 

What a marketable slogan! It can win you a seat in Congress, even a Pulitzer or a Nobel prize.

So much so that even Christian teachers and writers are cautioned: "Say the truth but sugar-coat it." "Or don't say the truth at all." "You can't afford to offend anyone."

Since when has the truth been un-offensive? "Do not steal." "Do not lie." "Do not envy." "Do not lust." 

All of these make us squirm in our pants, right? But we have to teach our kids these anyway, for their own sake.

Write about homosexuality being sin, you get branded as a bigot. You're being politically incorrect. How could you say it otherwise? That it's cute, harmless?

I recently watched a video of kids, seven years old and above, the oldest maybe 15, "expertly" talking about being married to the same sex as the most natural thing in the world! 

One very disturbing line from one of them: "God wants everyone to be happy so being gay and marrying someone of the same sex is OK. Because that's what a kind God does!"

Where did these kids get their ideas? Who taught them these lies?

Flash back to the 1960s when the American Atheists Association (AAA) won a landmark legislation banning prayer in public schools. Having taken God out of children's lives, most of America is now in shambles, not knowing right from wrong. The AAA has also championed the rights of gays and lesbians. 

Of course everyone has a right! But not teaching people right from wrong is a manifold wrong. 

Because here are the facts. One: God loves everyone; that's why He sent Jesus to die on our behalf (John 3:16). Two: We have all sinned, none exempt (Romans 3:23). 

Sin is sin, be it murder, lust, coveting, stealing, dishonesty. Having unnatural relationships is sin. Corruption is sin. But even my once in a while white lie is sin. And God will take us ALL to account for our sins. His law applies to everyone! And whoever said anyone is being singled out?
But AAA, and those they've conned to believing their advocacy, would let people believe that if the law of the land is on their side, then it is OK to break God's law. America is exhibit numero uno of what happens to a nation that shakes its fist at God—passing off something wrong as right—and paying the consequence for doing so.

What is sad is, Filipinos being lovers of all things American, have gone the very same path. Oh how we relish Halloween and Hollywood, and their marketing foil to pass evil and perversion as cute and romantic.

John 8:44 says that the devil is a liar and the father of it. Whatever he wants people to believe is a lie—contrary to the absolute truths we've been taught in catechism class, and that to go against them has consequences. Give the devil a foothold and he takes all of you down with him to the bottomless pit. 

On top of being a liar, the devil is scheming and subtle. He massages our sensitivities and sensibilities—slowly, smoothly. 

Like a puppeteer, he puts to work his invisible strings to first control the unsuspecting, then strangles him a little at a time, until many characters in this puppet show called life gets pulled in one stranglehold. A tragic ending to those who go through life clueless—or without anyone caring to let them know the truth.  

Most of the time, the devil manifests himself as an angel of light—an angel of enlightenment. But the story shouldn't end in his triumph and your loss. 

Jesus gives you and me a way OUT.   

Jesus is our wonderful Counselor. He has given us the Holy spirit so that in our search for the best that life has to offer—even if we get exposed to so many conflicting views and concepts—we will indeed know the truth. 

For Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, John 14:6.

Jesus doesn't mince His words. He speaks the truth as it is. He calls a spade a spade, sin sin! No wonder the pharisees hated Him so. 

But He also spoke the truth in love. His motive had always been—and even today—love. He is not willing for anyone to perish as a consequence of their rejecting Him and His truth.

To believe in Jesus is to be set free. Would you want to be free to do what is right and have the power to follow Him? Pray to receive Him as your Savior and Lord!

"Jesus, forgive me. I am a sinner. My sins are many, yet you promised to forgive and make me a brand new creation. I ask you to come into my heart. Be my Savior and my Lord. Give me the strength to follow you. And teach me your truth. Holy Spirit, help me. In Your name I pray."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


You’re A Mammoth
Woolly mammoth restoration at the Royal British Columbia
Museum, Victoria, British Columbia. Photo by WolfmanSF
“Yesterday, I woke up a possum. This day, I am a mammoth,” declares Ellie, in the movie “Ice Age: The 
Meltdown,” when her real identity dawns on her.

Ellie was a humongous but gentle mammoth (which in reality was one of the largest animals which ever walked the face of the earth) but acted as if she were tiny.

Don’t we sometimes see ourselves like the possum Ellie? 

Someone may have told you, “You are stupid, you won’t amount to anything!” And you believed, owned and lived the “stupid” act as dictated on you.

I struggled with Math in grade three and it did not help that my grouch of a teacher always growled or threw the eraser at us if we missed the mark. I was tortured no end and really thought I was stupid. Then I was a clueless clumsy teenager—my face defaced by pimples, full length bangs and wide-rimmed black eyeglasses intended to cover what I thought was my ugly face—when someone said, “Oh, she’s the least among the brood.” That nailed the stupid-I-won’t-amount-to-anything-nail on my head. 

I carried that self-minimizing title as I grew up. I was so insecure I tried to hide behind a veneer of arrogance and pride. Deep inside I knew I was insignificant. 

Then one day, I discovered I was a mammoth. That was when Jesus caught my heart and I prayed to accept Him as my Lord and Savior. He opened my eyes to the fact that He loved me and wanted me to be a winner in everything I did if only I would let Him take control of my life.  What could be a better testimony than Him changing my heart and leading me in paths I never imagined I could tread?

Didn’t the bible say, I can do all things through Him who gives me strength? (Philippians 4:13); that it is no longer I that live but Christ who lives in me;  and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)? 

I am a mammoth not because of my own strength but because of the Holy Spirit steeling my resolve to walk in His wisdom, not mine. I am a mammoth because my house is not built on sinking sand but on solid ground. Jesus Christ is the Rock of my salvation, without whom I could not experience life to the full. The Rock of Ages is my stable ground, my rampart, my refuge and my high tower. 

As a man thinks to himself, so is he, Proverbs 23:7. You can’t say you’re a Christian yet still believe that you are weak or unable or powerless; so quit thinking, “I can’t!”  For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self discipline, 2 Timothy 1:7.

That’s the same dunamis or dynamite power which made Jesus rise from the dead. That’s the same love which enabled Jesus to give His life in exchange for our eternal life. And that’s the same self-discipline Jesus so diligently exercised to fulfill His mission while He proclaimed His kingdom to an unbelieving generation. 

Like Ellie the possum who was really a mammoth, we can now start to flex our muscles and say, “I have the mind of Christ, I can do it!” 

Shouldn’t this be one of the first lessons we teach our kids even before they start struggling with their Math?

Sunday, September 22, 2013


11133570_s“Nabuntis ang anak ko, kaya ako umuwi”  (My daughter got pregnant so I came home), says Z, a just-returned OFW as we struck a conversation while she waited for her sundo at the NAIA airport. 

Z must have been building up her rage for a confrontation with her daughter. She needed to vent.  “Marami  nga kaming pera, nagkaganyan naman ang anak ko. Nagpapaka-alipin ka sa ibang bansa, wasak naman ang pamilya mo." (We have lots of money, but look at what happened to my daughter. Here I am slaving myself in another country but my family life is shattered.) Z worked as a domestic helper for a family in Saudi Arabia.

While many Filipinos have found gainful employment and improved their standards of living because of a father or mother working abroad, we’ve also heard of its tragic outcomes: 

  • Husbands or wives getting involved with third parties, motivated mainly by loneliness and the need to belong in a place they could not call home. 
  • Children getting exposed to negative influences like drugs and sexual promiscuity, mainly because of the lack of parental guidance . 
  • And not to forget, the sad stories of OFWs being maltreated, molested, denied their basic human rights, and even sent to prison or punished with death—all out of desperation or to defend themselves from ruthless masters. 

Still, the exodus goes on! 

Social scientists would be in a better situation to assess the long term impact of the OFW phenomen on our society. Suffice it to say that dysfunctional upbringing breeds dysfunctional lives. What price will families and our society pay for all these misalignments? 

God has given us His Word to direct our decisions.

Note what He says of couples: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). A married person’s place is with his/her partner!  To be separated for a long time is a recipe for disaster. 

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them” (Colossians 3:19). How could love be demonstrated and  a relationship built when two people are apart? 

Mas mabuti pang wala siya dito” (It's better if my husband is not here), kids a wife whose husband works in the Middle East. “Walang diskusyon! Magpadala na lang sya ng pera! (No discussions! Just as long as he sends money!) Everybody happy.” 

A relationship founded on money alone will inevitably crash and burn.

Too, parents are expected to stick around to train their children; and children are instructed to obey their parents.  Moreover, fathers should not exasperate their children, or they will lose heart (Colossians 3:20-21). This seems an impossibility in long distance parenting. 

How many kids have become disappointed because their parents or any of them have not been around for their birthday or their graduation, or during times they needed counsel or encouragement or a hug or support for a school project?  

Z lamented, “Wala ako nang magkaroon ng period ang anak ko. Ngayon, uuwi ako na buntis sya. Napakasakit isipin na noong kailangan ng anak ko ang payo ko, hindi ko ito nagawa." (I was not there when my daughter had her period. Now, I come home and she's pregnant. It's painful to realize that when my daughter needed advice, I wasn't able to do it.) 

It is sad that Z could no longer turn back the time.

Yes, her daughter enjoyed the perks of having an OFW for a mother. She’s studying in a private school. Their house is stuffed with appliances and modern gadgets.  She even has an IPhone. But at what price?

Let me quote from my book, Grandparenting: Happiness and Hard Work:

“’The brain drain has caused the disintegration of the Filipino family,’ contend those who want to stem the exodus of OFWs. But say others, "who can blame them, given the choice between unemployment and gutter-level incomes?” 

I urge you to pray and ask God for wisdom if you find yourself in this situation today. But more than anything, I pray that God will give you a revelation of who He is and how He could turn your situation around.

He created you and knows His purpose for you. He didn’t intend you to be the tail but the head. He meant you to be on top, not the bottom. He is your provider. He is the God who is more than enough. You are more than a conqueror in Christ. If you align your desire with Jesus and His will for you, He will bless you and your loved ones, wherever you are planted.   

Originally published at:

Sunday, September 15, 2013


"Kae Davantes is missing :( . Let's pray she is well!" Carla, my former student, texts me Saturday evening.

I wake up Sunday to Facebook posts saying Kae is dead. "Her body has been found."

"Justice for Kae Davantes" black ribbons start flooding Facebook. That was when reality hit. 

You must have read the news: "Young woman's body—strangled, with multiple stab wounds—found in Silang, Cavite." 

I found myself grieving for Kae. She was one of my most intelligent and creative students. Kind, humble and sweet, she was nonetheless competitive. She belonged to a batch which valued reading and came to exams armed with memorized but carefully analyzed texts.  

But I grieve even more because of the senselessness of her death—budding greatness so easily snuffed out. I grieve because around us are evil people with nothing but evil intent. 

They force us to cower in fear. They force us to avoid going out so that we'd prefer being in the dark. They force us into panic mode every time we see one suspiciously attired. 

And yes, they force us parents to fear for the safety of our children. That's why we endlessly remind them: 

Be careful. Do not talk to strangers. Always call or text to let us know where you are. Don't stay out late. Pray. Ask God's angels to protect you.

Yet, evil still has its way! 

God, what happened to Kae—or for that matter many young lives being shamelessly and brutally taken for whatever reason—is so hard to understand! Why so much evil in the world?

Who else could we turn to except the one who created us. He reminds us through the psalmist (Psalm 73:16-18): 

"When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight. Until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.…" 

I'm no longer afraid for Kae because I believe in my heart she is in the presence of Jesus whom she acknowledged as her Lord and Savior; and He will take the perpetrators to account.

What the enemy meant for evil, what the enemy tried to steal—all these are nothing compared to the glory Kae is now experiencing in the presence of Jesus.

But God doesn't want us unaware. We are in the last of the last days and of this, he warned (2 Timothy 3:1-5): 

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

"They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."

He reminds us too (1Thessalonians 5): "REJOICE always, PRAY continually, GIVE THANKS in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Whatever the enemy wanted to steal from Kae could never ever be stolen. She is now in a plaçe of complete safety, free from fear or pain or threats—in the arms of the who died to give her eternal life. 

Originally published as "Grieving" at:

Sunday, September 8, 2013


The Anatomy of Greed“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

Are you a member of the Gimme Gimme Club? 

It's been reported that Club attendance has tapered since the recent pork barrel scandals. Members have now become careful show-offs, even controlling the urge to upload their party and bling images on Façebook. 

Having experienced a burst of conscience—something they've not used for some time, they've now moderated their public display of opulence. Baka madamay, kahiya-hiya naman! They too might be shamed if they're too obvious. 

Seriously, how does the gimme gimme lifestyle take root? 

My Marketing class students dissect how a simple need—like food, security and safety—turns to wants, then demands. The higher a person rises because of either power or gold amassed, the more insatiable his desire to possess grander blings, jets and mansions included.

That's human nature. Feed need unnecesarily; greed grows exponentially. Greed is need with a great ego.

So it's best to nip greed in the bud. "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Jesus says in Mark 10:23, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"

Why these stern words? Because possessions boost your self-importance which in itself is idolaltry! ?t doesn't take long to totally shun your Provider when your unlimited lust for blings and influence has set shop in your heart.

Pretty soon, you believe Satan's slogan that the more you have, the happier and more esteemed you'll be—even by the rich, famous and influential. 

It helps of course that mass media and advertisers have conspired to condition us to aspire for the jet-setters' lifestyle. Our local papers glorify this so-called partyphile crowd in their pages. 

And being gorged up with riches is intoxicating, even addicting. The more you have, the more power you possess—the better for you to dispense and demand favor, and practically buy people, even manipulate them to suit your agenda.

The rich young ruler (Matthew 19) struggled to follow Jesus even if he wanted to. When His disciples asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus assured, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Had this young man remained with our Lord, he could have discovered that Jesus was all he needed. Jesus is enough to fill even our greatest desires. Trusting Him is just the beginning.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25)

Proverbs 15:16: "Better is a little fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it."

Jesus offers the better deal—real riches. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

Money? That's just a fraction of the Jesus Believers' benefits. Now ask Him what more and how. 

Originally published at:

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Indignation NationThen you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7 NLT)

Overheard recently...

Michael:            The enemy's strategy seems to be working!

Gabriel:             Yes, complaining has reached record levels.

Michael:            And the more fever pitch the complaining, the 
more they're cursing too.

Gabriel:             And the lesser they pray.

Michael:            No wonder heaven's prayer, praise and worship logbook looks anemic.

Well, that's my imagination gone wild about what the angels may be saying about us.

The pork barrel scandals have surely angered most of us. Napoles, some lawmakers, et al messed with our hard earned tax money. The corrupt and the corruptors must answer for their transgressions!

And public outcry has surely pressured our government leaders to urgently address the matter. The Philippines is OUR country and we need to ensure that our resources—even our tax money—are used wisely for the common good.  

Jesus Himself expressed raged when He confronted those who were making money out of objects supposedly for temple sacrifice. 

But faced with crises, the Lord always left the multitude, sought a solitary place, and prayed. 

In the garden, prior to His crucifixion, he prayed, then told Peter, "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation..." (Matthew 26: 41).

Jesus prayed alone on the mountain when the disciples faced the stormy sea,  (Matthew 14:22-33)—this after He made the disciples get into the boat to get to the other side, and after He dismissed the crowd. 

Enraged becuse of all these abuses? Who would not? But let the anger subside. Be objective. Know the facts. Discuss the matter intelligently. Write your petitions and be involved if you must.

But do not allow the anger to grow to complaining, more complaining, and even  endless bickering and cursing—so much so that we join the bandwagon and the only prayer left within us is, "Oh my God!" 

Irreverently or carelessly said, that too is cursing and not pleasing in God's ears.

Reminder: The Israelites suffered 40 years in the desert because of their endless complaining.

But let the peace of God guard our hearts. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7 NLT)

Peace within is possible because we know that God is in control and great and mighty to prevail. That's why we have confidence storming heaven' gates for justice and righteousness to prevail in our land. And even see miracles happen.

Christ is the answer! Our government officials must bow down to Him. Like all of us, they need a heart transplant—their hearts of stone replaced with hearts of flesh, able to know and listen to God, and do what is right as He commands.  

We definitely can't be bystanders. Light could not be hidden under a table. Our testimony must be demonstrated, even in the little things.

Don't bribe. Pay your employees their rightful salaries. Cross at the pedestrian lane. Stop at the red light. Line up. Walang palusot.  Huwag mang-isa sa kapwa. Avoid slander. Be courteous. Pray for our leaders. 

We can do all these because of His Spirit in us. The prayer of the faithful AVAILS MUCH.

Originally published at:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


ID-10022038To see is to believe. To believe is to see. On which side are you?

Did you shake hands with Wind today, or rub elbows with Thrust as it propelled a 560 ton plane forward? In your dream, perhaps.

"An airplane in flight is the center of a continuous tug of war between four forces: lift, gravity force or weight, thrust, and drag," says the Aeronautics Learning Laboratory for Science, Technology and Research Network, Florida International University.

Unseen winds and other atmospheric elements power typhoons and tornadoes. These and other natural disasters occuring in greater numbers have a lot to do with the thinning of the earth's ozone layer— invisible, yet there to protect us from the sun's powerful rays.

Forces—they're mostly unseen. Yet they're real, and oftentimes destructive.  They're in between, above, below or around those we see or touch.

Even light is unseen. But we know it's there when, in the morning, darkness retreats to make us see things clearly.

Many insist, "To see is to believe." But it is obvious even from our everyday experience that the obvious is but a fraction, perhaps just a tinge, of reality.

That's why Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” John 20:29.

Believing in Jesus makes it possible to behold and even appreciate the significance of the unseen.

Jesus, the Son of God, created the heavens and the earth—all things visible and invisible, including thrones and dominions and rulers and authorities. He is before all things and all things hold together because of Him! (Colossians 1:16-17)

Well, with scientists discovering more about the earth and our entire universe, the reality of intelligent design by our powerful, though unseen God, has become more compelling.

But you and I believe, not because we've seen first. God declared in the Bible everything He has done and will do; that's why we believe.
Our Creator knows His business! Exhibit numero uno? Our changed lives.

Having been transferred from the dominion of darkness to light, we are changed, not necessarily in the way we look, but inwardly—manifesting in our character.

That's the essence of faith—an inner assurance that in spite of physical circumstance, His promise will come to pass; and that we can count on Him to:

Heal our broken hearts and relationships, and all kinds of disease.

Provide, not just for our survival—but so that we can bless others.

Embrace us with His peace, grace and favor—even as the devil daily tempts us with fears, worries, doubts and the occasional slanders against us.

That's a lot of the unseen working behind the scenes in our favor.

Add to these His angels guarding us day and night so we can sleep or go about our day without fear of disaster.

So the next time you look up to heaven or hear the ocean roar or admire the mountains around you, watch out for unwatchables.

They're unseen, yet powerful; and they happen to be there because our Creator—who breathed His invisible Spirit into mortal man's body—wants to demonstrate His power in your behalf.

That's what the psalmist saw:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."  (Psalm 19:1-4)

Originally published at:

Monday, August 19, 2013


Webster defines courage as the quality of being brave.

It's not about being boastful or cocky, or maangas, in colorful Pinoy. Angas is hollow and intended for show.

Genuine courage compels one to risk his life and convenience, and to stand strong in spite of opposition.

It may be best to demonstrate the concept through characters familiar to us.

Ninoy Aquino manifested courage. He came back to his beloved Philippines—and from a life of comfort in his country of exile—though assassination and imprisonment loomed; as an autocratic regime shamelessly held on to power even if its mandate from the people had clearly expired.

Moses braved imprisonment and rejection by his own people. Notwithstanding his initial hesitation and inability to speak well, he squared off with Pharaoh as he demanded freedom for the Israelites.

In both of these cases, courage gave birth to both nations freeing themselves from abusive regimes.

But we realize too from these stories that the courage of one could not by itself carry a nation to total freedom.

You know the text:

The Philippines todate continues to grapple with corruption—in grander proportions, with the money trail being traced back to the highest corridors of power, Congress.

Moses’ Israel plunged even deeper, with idolatrous practices prevailing and the Jews yearning for the comforts of Egypt even if the land of milk and honey awaited them—guaranteed by the powerful God who protected and provided for them in spite of their insolence.

Euphoria led to discouragement to disillusionment. Back to square one.

Because courage is not for heroes alone. It’s part of God’s armor we individually clothe ourselves with daily.

If the devil could not scare us with diseases, loneliness or lack, he will attack us and will mostly be successful with keeping us discouraged, Pastor Robert Solijon taught us recently.

It is easy to be discouraged and fearful when the media daily dumps on us corruption, crime and calamity stories.

It is easy to come unhinged when you realize that because of your inadequate earnings, your daughter could not be enrolled next term; or when, in spite of your having taught him well, your son chooses to live with another guy.

But we know of no other option: To turn to the One who has won the victory for us more than  two thousand years ago.

Paul encourages us in Hebrews 12:2 to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus intercedes for us day and night, 24/7.

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart,” Hebrews 12:3.

“Pray and obey for there’s no other way,” should continue to resonate in our hearts. Pray and obey and see the impossible turn possible.

For our nation, it all comes down to this:

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

Originally published at:

Sunday, August 11, 2013


ID-10035368"Let's meet at 2 pm," you suggest to your friend. 

Oh yes, he gets all enthusiastic and agrees, "OK, see you at 2 pm!"

An hour passes; and still, no shadow of your friend.

Sounds familiar? One sets a meeting at a certain time. It's quite normal that at the appointed time, no one, not even the one who called for it, is present. 

It's prevalent---no, it's a norm in the Philippines. That's why it's called Filipino time. 

I'm pretty sure you're familiar with this: Your receive a formal invitation to a wedding. Clearly printed are the  date, time and place for the ceremony and reception. Whew, you make it exactly on time in spite of the traffic. Inside the church, you see just a handful of souls, so you ask yourself, "Did I get the date or time wrong?"

No, you didn't! You're in the Philippines! Where three o'clock may mean 3:15 or 4:00 pm. 

Volumes of articles must have been written about Filipino time and its negative effects; yet everyone seems to have cuddled it like some valuable heirloom. Pamana by our Spanish colonizers---but haven't we beaten the passed-on-by-our-colonial-masters excuse to death?   

Today's more convenient excuse? Ay, sobrang traffic! But how come others make it on time anyway? Many have plainly treated lateness as a cute Filipino thing. You can't lose your temper because of it, so why not just embrace it?

But doesn't lateness mirror character? Isn't punctuality synonymous with commitment and discipline? 

"I respect and esteem you, that's why I take the extra effort to make it on time." That's what we're really saying to someone if we come for an appointment on time. 

It goes back to character building 101: 

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master's happiness!" Matthew 25:21

Time is precious commodity. We've got only twelve hours in a day. No more, no less.

If you're an office worker: four hours more or less to commute to and from work (with traffic factored in); then eight hours to work plus a one-hour lunch break.

At home and elsewhere: seven hours for sleep;  two hours to bond with loved ones over breakfast and dinner; and maybe two hours for either household chores, exercise, shopping, or once in a while socializing with friends and other relatives.

That's why we can't squander time. Like seed or talent or any other object, time is a resource, and must be managed wisely. No wonder Jesus taught us to make use of our resources wisely. 

Whatever time spent must yield something. In modern or industrial parlance, that's productivity. 

Companies value their workers' ability to come to work on time and meet deadlines, along with their commitment to deliver excellent results. Promotions and salary increases are bundled with productivity, or producing more at the time allotted.

But more than solely aiming for promotion or hefty financial rewards, shouldn't we, being Christians, aim for His approval first and foremost? Don't forget your testimony! You are salt and light, even when it comes to time management.

Promotion comes from the Lord---He uses your boss to show you favor. 

Be on time, pretty please?

Originally published at:

Sunday, August 4, 2013


"Huwag!" "Bawal!" "Don’t to that!” 

Are your kids used to hearing these from you? How do they respond?

Two ways, probably: they'll obey; or do the exact opposite to test how far they could push their boundaries.

One school of thought cautions against too much "don'ts". Its proponents believe that imposing too much don'ts reinforces a fearful and over-cautious attitude, rendering a child averse to risk-taking and thinking outside the box. 

But good don'ts are necessary. We certainly don’t want our kids driving off the cliff just because we didn't warn them about the dangers of overspeeding or drunk driving. 

"Don't engage in promiscuity," should be said even if we encourage them to enjoy their youth. Because they should be aware of the boundaries.

Curiously, even God’s first ever written training manual highlighted eight don’ts. The only two affirmatives dealt with keeping the Sabbath holy and honoring one’s father and mother. 

A “don’t!" packs a wallop, doesn't it? "Don't play in the mud," certainly sounds more imposing than, "Keep off the mud and stay clean." 

When God says, "Don't," the red light flashes. He doesn’t mince words to make sure we don't veer to the left or to the right.

Consider His first and second commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

But He right away explains why...

“For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…” 

And finishes off with a revelation of His heart and His grace:

“… and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Those who heed His warnings get to experience His mercy and love! 

He has set the example. By all means warn, forbid. But don't end with that. Explain the consequence. Use the warning as an opportunity to reaffirm your love for your child, as well as the rewards that follow as a result of obedience. Fear will have no place in a home dwelt in by God's love and grace.  

A beautiful kind of fear will instead guide them:

"Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. The FEAR of the LORD is the beginning of WISDOM, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:9-10

Originally published at: