Monday, June 29, 2015


"You're such fanatics."

"What a bunch of fools."

"Self-righteous bible-quoting die-hards."

If you're a Jesus believer and follower, you get comments like these a lot.

But I say, bring it on!

I used to get hurt when those around me mocked my faith. They may not say it in your presence but you know they talk about you having gone looney as they make this circular motion on their temple.

But I'd rather be ridiculed for doing it His way than being found to have laundered money, or for being corrupt or taking advantage of others.

You see, if you've discovered the greatest treasureand Jesus is the greatest treasure of all nothing in all the world, not even the jeering of those you love, can discourage you.

Jesus' promise and faithfulness to fulfill it is enough: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).

I had my own Jesus momentwhen I realized how sinful I was and needed Him to save memany years ago. My life hasn't been the same since.

Until you know Jesus, life is a confused-sad-merry-aimless-fearful-go-round. Oh yeah, I thought I was doing fine, but deep down, I was grasping at strawsdoubting my ability to make anything of my life. You could qualify me an agnostic, believing in a god who was uninvolved, distant and unknowable.

That born again experienceand subsequent encounters with Him through the bible and through others who lived like Jesusopened my eyes to His awesomeness, power and majesty. Unless you start seeing God this BIG, you continue to be your own god.

The only cure for narcissism is Jesus. He wants a personal relationship with you and me, so we can see things His way.

I knew too, the moment I prayed to accept Him as my Savior and Lord, He took residence in my heart. Something good happened within me, a journey from one glory to another:

I used to think money and position were my source of security, but Jesus patiently proved He would be my provider and my source of promotion too, as long as I honored Him with my life and finances.

How could I, even if I considered lying to avoid embarrassment, all of a sudden think, "That's not right;" then resist that urge altogether? 

Jesus is the Great Teacher. John 14:38"…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

Whywhen gossiping used to be second nature to mecould I now bite my tongue to avoid slandering someone?

My biggest whywhy could I sleep soundly at night when prior to my knowing Jesus, I couldn't get a decent zzzz because I worried too much?

Philippians 4:7(ISV)―Then God’s peace, which goes far beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus.

Where was all this coming from? It could only be Jesus!

He says of those who have a relationship with Him: (John 14:23) "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."

The best news ever? Everyone who acknowledges Jesus can change. No sin or rebellion is too big for Him. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Who better to ask for a total makeover than Himyour Maker?

Simply, a Jesus die-hard is one who:
·         Has repented of his sins, acknowledged Jesus as his Savior and Lord
·         Develops a hunger to know Him more, His Word and His willthe bible being the source of all these
·         After discovering and proving that God works in awesome ways, obeys Him more and more, allowing Him to be Lord, even if opposed by othersin spite of supreme court justices or politicians justifying sin as right

Our Maker could not be mocked. Either He is Lord or not at all. Either His truth prevails or not at all. 

So many recent events have made believers fearful of persecutions. But why fear? Jesus still sits on the throne. He is in control. But He's patient, allowing everyone to come to repentance.

But He cautions believers not to confront God-and-truth bashers with hate. If you've indeed been set free, then speak the truth in love and demonstrate it, just as Jesus did.

Most of us live in places where we can freely worship and practice our faith. Believers in terrorist-controlled states would rather die than renounce their faith in Jesus. If push comes to shove, will you too?

That's what it means to be a Jesus die-hardbecause you know in your heart of hearts, Jesus will prevail, no matter what. He's coming soon so let's not be found slacking or keeping mum.

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He's all these and everything else you've ever wanted. Rest in that and hold your light up in the darkness.

If all these sound strange to you but you want to experience more of God in your life, sincerely pray:

Jesus, I need you. I repent of my sins. I accept you now as my Lord and Savior. Holy Spirit, help me to obey. Father, have your way in me. In Jesus name.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


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Aren't you glad you exist in the here and now?

I refer, in an itsy-bitsy way, to my contemporaries. Some of us may be in life's pre-departure area, ready to blast-off to our eternal home; but hey, we're fortunate to have been the front-end audience of this once spooky animal called information technology.

Remember that two-pound mobile phone back in the early nineties? I realized soon enough that I needn't put up with inefficient PLDT anymore. Recall too how you, with clenched teeth, eyeballed that strange contraption called the computer as you navigated Wordstar with its strange-sounding language? 

"Menu" all of a sudden didn't refer to food choices anymore. 

"Surfing" turned from just conquering ocean waves but straddling through a "web" that wasn't the spider's domain any longer.

"Wow, knowledge at our fingertips!" We must all have exclaimed.

Today's young people seem to have been born IT-savvy, as if their brains have been hard-wired with algorithms. While my generation drowns in the sea of new computer and smart phone functionalities, our toddler counterparts seem to instinctively know which icons to push in an Ipad.
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Given written assignments or grouped for workshops, my students just type some key words; then out tumble videos, images or words to put together a report or devour a case study.

It is true that knowledge is power. Easy-access information because of the world-wide-web and telecommunication technology excuses no one from not knowing what they need to know when they need it.

Case in point: To prepare my favorite pasta yesterday, I googled; then cooked a pretty mean puttanesca. Jack wanted to improve his painting so he surfed the web for color contrast and harmony lessons. Want to improve your English? You know where to look.

So we think we're smartbecause we know so much.

The bible speaks of a time (which I believe is now) when knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:4).

Which begs the question: If today's generation is so smart, why are more and more of them making wrong choices?  

We didn't read as much texts in my time, yet why are today's students reluctant to ask "why?" and "how?" or even make an effort to analyze? Has the prevalence of information sucked them into a comfort zone so comfortable that they're afraid to wager their own well-thought out evaluation?

Information overload has also made it harder for many to distinguish between fact and fiction. Where really is the dividing line?

The bible also says that falsehood and lawlessness will prevail in our time. Matthew 24:11-12―"Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…"

This explains why, in spite of too much knowledge, many in this generation prefer live-in and same-sex relationships. Many are mired in drug, alcohol and porn addiction.

What we need then is not more information but more of the truth to make the right decisions in spite of  info-overload.

The first must-truth: Proverbs 9:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Wisdom-knowledge-understanding is a triple braided cord. It can be yours in Jesusthe Word who supersedes every information offered by the world-wide-web or your peers.  

O Lord, enable me to make sense of every knowledge which confronts me every day. Help me weed out the lies and the unnecessary from the truth and what's useful. Holy Spirit, help me to decide to go the righteous path. May I have your mind, Jesus.

Friday, June 19, 2015


It has probably crossed your mind: What if my surname is "Gates" or "Zobel?" And what if because of that affiliation, I get a financial windfall, enough to satisfy my fantasies? Just because of that revered name! 

Well, we can dream, can't we?

Come to think of it, why wasn't I born to a clan which would allow me to wallow in a whirlpool of endless luxuries?

Pastor Robert Hern (Victory San Diego) recently placed this thought in perspective: "God assigns us to a family."  Indeed!

I never asked to be my parents' daughter; and they probably said seven is enough, until I came.  

It seemed Nanay and Tatay endlessly toiled, to make sure we grew up into respectable human beings.
They bequeathed to us one of life's most precious acquisitions---a college education.

"We need to have a place to call home," Pastor Hern added.

Our family was a rowdy and noisy bunch for sure. Can you imagine ten heads (some kinky-haired) around the dining table, each kid wanting more of this and that, especially our favorite dessert saging na saba?

I remember my then-seven or eight year old brother Dan being chased through the entire town by our older sister Mita---her bakya (wooden slippers) ready for the hurl because he endlessly teased her for being rotund. "Nanay taba!"

Can you imagine our parents seesawing between applying the leather belt, the hug, the instruction or the reward; and making sure they treated us all fairly? "No cursing!" "Do your duty!"

So I learned to dish-wash to perfection, applying Nanay's science into it: start with the cleanest (drinking glasses); remove all the filth first; end with the dirtiest. Hygiene was paramount.

Our resources were meager, but our memories rich.

Happy, sad, funny, embarrassing, annoying, challenging. Whatever form they took neatly piled up into the shape of a home. Home afterall is a state of security and learning and love and rebuke and forgiving. And a refuge from the storm.

Home is not a place but a character builder with its battery of training modules meant to toughen and tenderize you, train you with rules and duties but also make you flexible and understand others' limitations, and equip you with knowledge yet let you discover that information without wisdom is empty and capricious. 

Home is where you get to be you, but be a team player as well---where you learn to give, to wait your turn, to be handed down things, to share, to take instruction, and to treat family as importantly as self.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." 

"America is a nation of strangers," said Pastor Hern, "with four in ten people experiencing loneliness. Could it be because many have never experienced home, especially since divorce or separation is an easy alternative?

Family is about growth too. But growth is elusive without Jesus. He's the great equalizer, because He's the only real blesser. He'll take you wherever you are and promote you from one glory to another. 

Just make sure that He has made your home His address too.  

O Lord, all of us have somehow lost our way. Bring us home. You are our real Home. May Jesus be the Lord of every household and every relationship. 

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Friday, June 12, 2015


They aboundin the internet, in schools, your workplace, yes even in places where caring and kindness should be the norm.

Nurse Hannah got an acrid mouthful from a patient who just could not wait for her turn to be treatedin spite of the fact that the emergency ward was crawling with patients needing more urgent and critical care. "Management will know about this!" she threateningly snorted.

News of bullying in schools has spiked. But the storyline is familiar: The bullied snaps, eventually responding to the bully through the barrel of the gunbut in the process injuring other students and teachers.   

A lot of teenagers today are drawn to a very popular social site named,  founded by two Latvians Their mission: encourage freedom of expression. Time magazine has called it however the anti-social network, because of the cyber-bullying it encourages, with a teenager's recent suicide attributed to it.

I tried to warn my first year college students about the siteonly to learn that almost all of them visited the site regularly. And yes, they do get bullied!

This site has attracted 120 million millennials worldwide. Hosting one billion posts a year, has made its owners very rich. This should raise red flags for any parent of a validation-seeking teenager.

I put up with bullies too. Not in school, but in my place of work, under three bosses. (Most of them though were kind, considerate and inspiring.) Work became doubly stressful; and all I ever wanted was to resign. But I didn't have much choice because working class types like us don't have much choice.

The bible mentions a bully who once waged a coup d'etat in heaven but failed.  Jesus says in Luke 10:18―"I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning."

No wonder Paul said, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) 

Satan still heads the Bully Business,  but instead of doing it himself, he uses people like you and me, with our own dysfunctions or cluelessness  to  intimidate othersthrough anger, hatred, bigotry, selfishness, envy, slander and other unkind and inconsiderate acts.

How can anyone protect himself from bullies?

Hannah determined to not be affected, keeping her silence and preferring to focus on what mattered―treating her patients to the best of her ability and not facing ire with fire.

Ephesians 6:13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Jesus told his disciples before sending them out: Luke 10:19"Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you."

Bullies' barbed words may sting for a while but they can never bring you down if you make the Word, Jesus, your shield.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015


A new school year begins. A great time for teachers to take stock of their role even before the roll call.

I'm currently off-term from university teaching for what we seniors call apo-stolic mission elsewhere. So I miss teaching. I miss my students.

After almost three decades of surviving shark-infested corporate oceans, I later found myself teaching. I love being in the company of young peoplea brazen and center-of-the universe bunch who are nonetheless clueless about what awaits them outside of home and school. 

A teacher always asks himself these questions:

·         Did I cover all relevant topics?
·         Are my teaching techniques effective so that my students get engaged and don't turn comatose while in class?
·         Are they really getting it?
·         And most important of all, will they value those lessons?

A teacher's greatest desire? That whatever lessons you've taught get firmly rooted in a student's psyche long after he'd shed his toga.

Pastor Robert Hern of Victory Church San Diego in last Sunday's preaching opened my eyes to the scarier aspect of teaching.

He spoke of a time when teachers were sought after by their students—just like Po (Kung Fu Panda movie) submitting to the mentorship of kung fu master Shi Fu.

In those days, a teacher refused those whom he felt were unworthy of his timeyes, just like Shi Fu refusing to train Po because he was hopelessly clumsy and didn't in any way look like a fighter. A mentee's greatest desire was to be like the master himself.

So teaching was not just about theories.  It was about discipling someone willing enough to become his mentor's clone or me-too.  

This picture of a teacher should make each of us in the academe treat our calling with trepidation.

Am I really qualified? Will my lifeknowledge plus charactermake a difference in my student's life?

The best teacher comes to mind. Unlike the teachers of yore, Jesus sought out his disciples. Moreover, he called the unqualified: fishermen like Simon and Andrew for example. "Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people," Matthew 4:19.

Jesus practically lived with his interns, had one-on-one and team huddles and prayers with them. And He never refused any one who came to Him for help or wisdom. The new testament referred to Jesus as "teacher" 45 times.

What He taught, he demonstrated. He healed the sick, raised the dead, multiplied provisions, and challenged traditional wisdom. And He was not afraid to speak the truth. He demonstrated the real meaning of love by dying even for the unlovable.

He taught them too that like Him, they could do what He did, and even greater.

John 14:12"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."

This gives me confidenceJesus being my teacher and my Lordthat I could make a difference in the life of my students.

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