Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Enduring a Christmas Cold

Only a day after being exposed to someone who has a cold, I now have a running nose and a headache. No one likes catching a cold, though it is to be expected during this freezing December month. But for me, the timing is unfortunate because I have to meet a deadline today. With this cold, can my eyes endure staring at the glaring computer screen while my brain try to squeeze out every creative juice from its cells? 

To get inspiration before I tackle the demands of the day, I turned to my devotional book which was given to me as a Christmas present a few days ago. On top of the page where a bookmark is inserted, I found these words:  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7). I read the entire chapter four which is the context of the said verse. Though it refers to the Apostle Paul's physical hardships and sacrifices in bringing to people the message of Christ and the cross, I began to see how the verse could be speaking to me about enduring a common cold. As I continue to read, I remembered my two friends whose dear family members are in the hospital right now for life-threatening diseases. Another friend's aging mother has also been in and out of the hospital and their family spent Christmas at the hospital room. 

In all his dangerous encounters and near-death experiences, the Apostle Paul didn't lose hope because he was convinced that God's power was sustaining him so he could fulfill his calling. He even penned these paradoxes for those with colds today and for those who are spending the holidays on their hospital beds or are giving care for their loved ones who are sick: We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. At all times we carry in our mortal bodies the death of Jesus, so that His life may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

Keep yourselves warm and protect yourselves so as not to catch a cold. May I also ask you to say a prayer  for those who are sick and for their caregivers? Most of all, let's thank God for sustaining us these past days, weeks, months, and this whole year which will soon be gone. Praise God for His enabling grace!

Monday, December 24, 2012

God with Us

On the eve of Christmas, I received news from a friend that made me think about the future. I tried to brush off the worrying thought and it was easy to do that because of the preparations for Christmas Day. But this morning, I received  a text message: "The real message of Christmas is this: We are not alone. Jesus is our Immanuel (which means God with us) Matthew 1:23."

I remembered the news again and then the words "God with us" kept ringing in my head. God with us. God with us. The whole Bible verse is actually this: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel--which means "God with us". The verse refers to the birth of Jesus Christ--the Son of God who became man, like one of us, to later on die on the cross to save us from sin. Jesus is with us. He walked on the earth then, He is walking with us now. 

I have planned some things for next year, but I don't know how things will really turn out. I don't know all the details that will take place in the next few months, but God does. And today, on Christmas Day, He is reminding me that He came to this earth to be with me wherever I am at all times. God is with me and  He is  also with someone who thinks He is alone today. He is with a father working overseas, away from  his family and desperately missing home. He is with the typhoon victims waiting for relief goods and relocation. He is with someone who is afraid, uncertain of the future. In whatever situation--good or bad--God can be trusted to be with us and carry us through. 

Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, November 9, 2012

God Speaks through Shirts

I am a writer. I realized that God easily gets my attention when I see words. I "hear" God more often through the "written" word. Each time I read the Bible--God's written Word--I hear Him speak. I learn about His desires and commands, His precepts and promises. Sometimes, when I pray silently, God speaks through words, phrases, and sentences I see around me. 

One time, I was invited by an aunt to visit her and my uncle in Germany. I saw it right away as an opportunity to encourage them. It was a short visit prior to attending a publishing conference in another country, so I was not sure if my stay with them had benefited them as much as it had blessed me. As my plane  prepares to take off for my next destination, I silently asked God, "Lord, did I accomplish your purpose for me here in Germany?" I was seated by the window at that time and then, I saw those blue letters painted boldly in one hangar as if screaming at me: "Mission Complete". I knew it was God's answer.

This afternoon, I was aboard, not on a plane, but a jeepney, and I was profusely thanking God for the result of my glucose test. Last June, my blood sugar was high and my doctor recommended a more definitive oral glucose tolerance test to make sure that I don't have diabetes. I finally took the test this week which entails three injections to extract blood samples. After much prayer, a change in diet, and exercise (sometimes!), my blood sugar has become normal. I repeatedly praised God, "Thank you, Lord, I don't have diabetes."

Right after I said those words, a man on a bike breezed through beside our jeep. He was wearing blue shirt and I saw these words on his back: "May diabetes ako" (I have diabetes). What? It's certainly not a common statement shirt, but I felt like God was pointing out something to me. I am not happy with the misfortune of others, and I wouldn't want anyone to have diabetes. But at that moment, I am just grateful that I don't have diabetes. 

It still amazes me how God can easily blink a "hey, listen to me" sign. God uses words--He leads people to write words, to display words, to publish words--and He turns my attention to them at the right time to bring home a message. And each time He does, it's a "God is real" moment  for me. Maybe that's why I enjoy writing and why I consider it as a ministry: so others can also recognize that God is real. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Favor in a Box of Cereal

After trying out a healthy breakfast cereal, I went to the grocery yesterday to buy another box. Well, I found this single remaining 330g tall box of whole wheat cereal with a smaller 180g box taped to it. I was looking for the 180g box, but God reserved two boxes for me--for the price of one! 

Sometimes we wish for something, and we are willing to settle for something simple or small, but God sometimes surprises us with a bigger gift.  Our Heavenly Father must be so pleased lavishing us with His favor. 

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Generous Giver

As I get into my morning meditation, my daughter, fresh from the shower and getting ready for school, asked shyly, "Inay, do you have extra money?" She has already been given her week's allowance last Monday. The week was not yet over, yet I sensed that she was asking for an additional allowance for the week. I asked how much she needed and after she explained what she needed the extra money for, I didn't hesitate to give. 

She then happily prepared for school while I return to my Bible reading which happens to be in Matthew 7:9-11:  Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

Such a wonderful spiritual truth with an immediate practical illustration! I didn't reprimand my daughter for asking extra money that morning. In fact, I was thankful I could give her what she needed. That morning's incident with my daughter was God's object lesson for me to show how much He enjoys giving me good gifts. If I am pleased providing for my daughter, how much more God Himself, who is far richer, far more generous than I am! God will certainly give what is good for us. 

Teach us, O God, to ask for the right things, and to wait quietly, confidently, assured that You will give them at the right time. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Signing at the 33rd Manila International Book Fair

Had fun signing Add Mo 'Ko as Friend at the OMF Literature and PCBS Booths during the 
33rd Manila International Book Fair!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Milestones for July

Two milestones for Add Mo 'Ko as Friend this July: First, Add Mo 'Ko as Friend moved up to No. 3 in the National Book Store's Bestsellers List from last month's fifth spot! 

Photo courtesy of National Bookstore

Second, Add Mo 'Ko as Friend is now available as an ebook at Amazon. This is great news for family and friends who live elsewhere around the world and for those who don't have time to visit bookstores in the Philippines which distribute my book. To buy the Kindle edition, click here.

Photo courtesy of

If you still don't have a copy, I hope you get one for yourself very soon--and for your friends too!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Life is Precious

Today, through Facebook, I learned about the death of a Filipino Christian leader, Dr. Eli Javier. I came to realize and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior as a teenager and during those years, I had several chances to hear Dr. Javier share inspirational messages about Christianity with  his usual sense of humor. The last time I heard him speak was a few years ago during a convention. He was already old but it was still refreshing to hear him. 

Only minutes in between, I saw also through Facebook, the sonograms of the fetuses of my friends Dawn and Mae. Obviously, I'm happy for both of them. They don't know each other and they live continents apart from each other, but both chose to share to the world on the same day the happy news about the tiny, fragile life growing in their womb. 

What a day, what mixed feelings. I felt sad and nostalgic about the earthly departure of a leader who also contributed to my spiritual growth. But on the other hand, I was reminded too that he is now in a better state--in the glorious presence of His Creator. I am thankful that God raised him to be a messenger of His Word and a mentor to countless many. In God's judgment, his time on earth is up. 

But time for the two babies in my two friends' wombs is just beginning. In a few months, after their mothers had carefully nurtured and lovingly cared for them, and at God's appointed time, they will be brought out into this world to begin life on earth. I pray that they too will know their Creator in a personal way and seek to live for Him each day, and even serve Him one day as their mothers are doing so. 

I've heard that fact before--each day someone  is dying while someone is being born. But it hit me today.  It's true. Life is precious. Life is such a wonderful gift from God. May we value each moment of our lives and the lives of the people under our care. In the end, I hope we can all say, we had a life well lived. In God, I believe we can. 

"The length of our days is seventy years —or eighty, if we have the strength...Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." A prayer of Moses, based on Psalm 90:10, 12

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Add Mo 'Ko as Friend: Now a National Book Store Bestseller

After two months of not posting any entry, it's good to break the silence with good news! I learned yesterday that Add Mo 'Ko as Friend: Your Link to Real Relationships is on the Bestsellers List of National Book Store, occupying the fifth spot. The biggest book store chain in the Philippines regularly releases a list of its bestsellers in different categories. Add Mo 'Ko as Friend is currently on the top five under the Philippine Publication category. 

This news really made my day. If you still haven't bought a copy, you can get it from National Book Store, OMF Lit Book Shops, PCBS, and anywhere inspirational books are sold. Get news and updates about the book from its Facebook page

Friday, April 20, 2012

Social Networking

How is social networking affecting your relationships? How has Facebook and Twitter affected your world? I've reconnected with old friends and met new ones ever since I opened an account in Facebook three years ago. As an author, social networking has also helped me promote my book Add Mo 'Ko as Friend: Your Link to Real Relationships. Recently, MAI (Media Associates International) and I talked about social networking and my book in an interview. Learn more about it here.

How about you? How are you connecting with people around the world? How are you using social networking to improve your life?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Smile...It's Holy Week!

Last Sunday’s message in church was “Why Holy Week Makes Me Smile”*. It was an intriguing title considering the traditional mood of many people during the Lenten season.

When my siblings and I were growing up, our elders admonished us not to be playful during this time—it’s not the season to be jolly. We were told God is dead every year during Holy Week. Jesus was crucified for the sins of men two thousand years ago, and every year we remember that sacrifice.

Before the advent of cable TV and Internet, we were left with no other forms of entertainment from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday. Television shows were limited to movies like Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston or Jesus of Nazareth with the somber-looking Robert Powell. There’s also an airing of the traditional washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday and the local Passion Play called Senakulo on Good Friday. But we all celebrate come Easter because then we would have a barrage of TV shows to watch.

I also think that many of us are secretly unhappy during Holy Week because we have to give up a lot of things. We give up certain kinds of food and drinks. For a few weeks or a few days, we even give up watching TV or doing something that we enjoy or can not do without. I won’t be surprised if some of us would give up Facebooking at least for a day during this time.

Should we be unhappy during Holy Week? The preacher last Sunday gave four convincing reasons why Holy Week should make us happy. And the first of this is because Christ’s death and resurrection was a response of Jesus Christ to God the Father. It was God the Father’s plan to send Jesus to earth. Ephesians 5:12 says, “Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” God gave Jesus Christ to man. Jesus Christ gave Himself first to God and then to us.

Christ’s death and resurrection was also a redemption from the fallen state of man. Admit it, we have all missed God’s standard and have fallen away from Him. But  through Jesus’ death on the cross and triumphant resurrection, He has paid the price for our sins and has paved the way for us to be reconciled to God the Father.

His death and resurrection is also a rescue from filthiness. Galatians 1:4 says that Jesus “gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age”. There is hope for us if we long to escape the tragic cycle of  doing something wrong and awful, feeling sorry, promising not to do it again, only to find ourselves committing the same sin over and over. God truly forgives the repentant, and He gives power to change to those who yield to Him and desire to follow Him.

Aside from these three things, Christ’s death and resurrection also made possible a relationship with friends. We may never thought of Jesus as a friend, but He Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). He gave up His life for us! That’s His proof that He loves you and me and that He is extending His hand of fellowship to us.

In return, Jesus wants us to consider Him as our friend too. In the same breath, He told His disciples, “You are My friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). And what is God’s command? Jesus summed it up this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:38-39).

In essence, God loves us and He wants us to love Him too. God is calling us to a love relationship, not merely to a religious ritual or a seasonal remembrance of His sacrificial love. Shouldn’t that make you smile?

*Message shared by Pastor Anthony John O. Munar

Monday, March 26, 2012

Writing...and Happy!

"Writing is a lonely job. Even if a writer socializes regularly, when he gets down to the real business of life, it is he and his typewriter or word processor. No one else is or can be involved in the matter." This quotable quote is attributed to author Isaac Asimov. Asimov also edited voluminous works, but he was more popularly known as a science fiction writer and professor of biochemistry. 

If you write not just as a hobby but as a vocation or a means of living like I do, you know this is true. Oftentimes, writers have to be alone to be able to think and write. Many times, the only sound I hear is the tap on my keyboard or the music from YouTube. Although I enjoy being by myself most of the time, there are moments when I still feel lonely when I write. Writers have to endure loneliness to serve readers some dose of happiness. 

Just this afternoon, I was beginning to feel it again while reading and getting ready to edit some files. To perk myself up, I tried to hum a familiar tune and reminded myself that I'm doing a good work (a pat in the back!) And then a thought came, "Maybe I feel lonely because I don't often get encouragement." Just then, an email arrived from one of those editors I'm mentoring for a curriculum project. She's done with her assigned work and she cared enough to send this note: Thanks for your gift of prayer and encouragement...for the gift of sharing your knowledge and skills...I learned a lot from you...

I stopped what I was doing and looked out of my window. I savored her message and uttered thanks to God. I realized God wanted to encourage me so she led that person to send that email at a time when I needed it most. Thank You, Lord. 

Now I can happily go back to writing and editing. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crazy Love

Love has been described as blind. One old song and a movie popularized the notion that “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing”. Many say that love makes the world go round. But how many people will agree that love is crazy, specifically, that God’s love for us is crazy and that our love for Him should be zealous as well?

Author and pastor Francis Chan makes such bold declaration in his book titled Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. CSM Publishing releases an unabridged audiobook version of Chan’s book in MP3 format. The audiobook is read by the author himself.

If you feel complacent, Chan will wake you up to the thought that we have an inaccurate view of God. He discusses man in relation to the greatness of God as reflected in the universe which He created. Because I find great pleasure in watching the sky at sunrise, sunset, and on starry nights, I was easily drawn to what Chan said. God is the wonderful Creator and He deserves to be the center of the universe. Chan calls us to admire and love God. He also leads us to discover what is wrong with our churches and with ourselves. He challenges us to look at the way we live in relation to God; then it’s up to us to change or stay the same. 

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God Audio CD by Francis Chan is released by CSM Publishing and is available at their bookstore. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friends and Memories

Aileen was my best friend in grade school. If my memory serves me right, we were classmates in Grade One or Grade Three. Like most little children, we spent time in school and in between we exchanged stories, giggled, played, and ate snacks during recess. One time, we even hid in the classroom closet to share stories. And when I was sick, I wrote a prayer to God asking, "God, I want to see Aileen."

After I finished Grade Three, I moved to another school and I haven't seen nor heard from her since then. But decades later, whenever I'm asked who my best friend was when I was in Grade One, I would easily recall her name. 

I'm sure you would agree that friends are God's gifts. God gave me an Aileen when I was very young and carefree. As I grew older, God sent Teresa, Gay, Betchy, Sorcky and many others. Then I met Marlon, Eric, Dong and several more. Louie, Cristy, Ranie and Anthony came along later on. If I mention all my gifts I might bore you because I know you're also eager to share your own list of precious gifts--your friends. 

True friends are gifts because they keep us company in our journey through life. They're there when we're happy and when we're sad. They're there to share with us the joy of winning and the pain of losing. By spending time with us in the seasons of our life, our friends create with us wonderful memories. Thank God for social networking sites, we can reconnect with out friends from the past, relive our times together and stay current with each other's status. But even if our best friend from Grade One or Grade Three doesn't have a
Facebook account, we can draw from our memory bank and recall our happy times. 

David Brenner once said, "Friends are the most important part of your life. Treasure the tears, treasure the laughter, but most importantly, treasure the memories." Thank God for our friends. Thank God for the memories. 

My latest book Add Mo 'Ko as Friend: Your Link to Real Relationships explores online and offline friendships. Get your copy from OMF Lit Book Shops and online store, PCBS, National Book Stores and anywhere inspirational books are sold in the Philippines. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

God's Wish List

Usually, at the beginning of the year or before our birthday, we draw up a wish list. This list could include things we want for ourselves or things we want to happen. The list may include an iPad2, a dream house, a trip to Batanes, putting up a restaurant, meeting a favorite celebrity, or maybe doing something crazy like bungee jumping. The more difficult it is to fulfill the list, the more intense we pray to God to make them come true. After all, with God nothing is impossible, right? If you want your wish list fulfilled, don't come to a fictional genie, but come to a real God who can make a nation in a day or who can make water come out of a rock in a desert. 

But do you know that God also has a wish list and only you can satisfy Him? A verse in the middle of the Bible says it this way, "How I wish my people would listen to Me; how I wish they would obey Me!"* Sure, God is delighted to hear our prayers but He will be pleased as well if He sees us seeking not only His blessings but seeking Him with all our hearts! This verse seems to tell me that God wants to be heard, that He wants to tell me things--maybe things like His good plans for me, His promises (that will not be broken), advice for a project I'm working on, and yes, I will not rule out even a  rebuke or a command. I suspect that most of the time we're scared to hear from God because we think of Him as a stern figure. But the truth is, God is a  loving Heavenly Father who wants the best for each one of us. He wants us to obey Him because what He's telling us to do is the best for us even when we think it's not. 

It's difficult to find time to read God's love letter--the Bible--or to be sensitive to an impression from Him. What's more difficult is to obey Him. But  I believe if we are at least willing, He will give us the grace to do so. 

Will you fulfill God's wish list? Will you do what you feel He wants you to do this year?
*Psalm 81:3 Good News Translation