STORMS

STORMS

Devastating. That is probably the word that would best describe what storms are. With their violent winds, deafening thunders, and hard-pouring rains, we can easily foretell the destruction they bring—overwhelming floods, damaged crops, and, worst, ruined lives. They linger for days and their impact, for weeks, even months. And when one finally ends, another one comes. Storm after every storm.

Don’t we have this same season in life? The season when we feel like we are standing in the middle of a storm—tossed by worries, swept by struggles, and drowned by failures. We strive, boldly. But still it lingers… for days, weeks, even months. And just as the storm is finally over, a new one comes. Storm after every storm. Because of this, we are left exhausted… desperate… hopeless.

It is during these moments that we search for a sanctuary… a shelter that may provide us rest, comfort, and peace.

For some of us, that shelter could mean music to appease our aching hearts, alcohol to forget our piled up bills, or pills to shut off the worries plaguing our minds. But we know that all these are temporary. The music will end, sobriety will come, and medicines will lose their effect.

But there is Someone offering us a shelter that actually lasts. In fact, all along, He has been inviting us, beckoning us: “Come to me…” (Matthew 11:28).

Our Sanctuary. JESUS CHRIST. He has been waiting for us with open arms, ready to warm our cold, sleepless nights… ready to soothe the surging pains of our hearts… ready to protect us as we go through the battles of life. What is more, He promises us peace beyond human comprehension (Philippians 4:7) and a lifetime of companionship (Matthew 28:20)!

What kind of storm are you in right now? Overwhelming debts? An immedicable disease? A broken relationship? Death of a loved one?

Then run to your Sanctuary, find shelter in JESUS, and allow His strong arms to be your refuge, His sweet presence to give you comfort, and His loving embrace to fill you with peace. Storm after every storm.

ROADS

ROADS

Paved or swampy, wide or cramped, flat or steep, smooth or rough. Which kind of road do you usually take?

Daily life includes inevitable encounters with roads: when we take our kids to school, eat out with friends, conduct business, or even as simple as when we buy from the sari-sari store. Our day-to-day activities involve stepping out of our homes and, hence, taking the roads. To prove just that, an automotive trade journal says an estimated number of 1.2 billion cars in the planet are hitting the roads every single day—1.2 billion people journeying to a specific destination.

That is right, a destination. Just like how every bus ride leads to a stop, or every car trip has to pull over, every journey has an end—this, a point worth pondering on as we reflect on our personal lives. After all, the life we live IS a journey.

You are on a journey.

But let me ask you… As you journey in this life, what is your destination? At the end of it all, where do you expect to arrive?

The apostle Paul needed not to think twice on this matter. He writes, “…I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me… I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus…” (Philippians 3:12-14, MSG).

To JESUS.

For Paul, the destination is not a place but a person. The person of Jesus.

Because, much like our literal journeys, the roads of this life will not always be paved or smooth. There will be bumps of worries, cracks of problems, storms of disappointments, and roadblocks of failures along the way.

After all those, after the rough, cramped, steep, and bumpy journey, are not His arms the best place to be in? And is not His face the best thing to see? What better joy is there?

So let me ask you again: At the end of it all, where do you expect to arrive? May you utter the same words as Paul’s:

“To JESUS.”

SUMMER

SUMMER

We are at that season of the year when we feel that we are elbow to elbow with the equator. With the sun’s scorching heat against our skin, large and heavy beads of sweat trickle down our foreheads—even when we are steady and still, in front of a giant electric fan!

The irony, however, is that while our skin is drenched in sweat, our body, however, can be dry. Or, more aptly, dehydrated. This happens when the amount of fluid that gets out of the body is not duly replenished. This is the very reason why, although taking a shower or swimming in the pool could indeed refresh us, we are advised to drink lots and lots water (not pool water, though!).

Because the need is from within.

Much like the need of each of us. That persistent, nagging need to be filled. Because there is, deep down within us, a feeling of being incomplete, of being empty.

Some of us may have tried to fill the void with medals and trophies, money and fame, alcohol and drugs, relationships and sex. But still, the void remains. In fact, it feels wider… deeper.

Because that nagging need can only be filled by the One whose imprint is in the every fiber and every vein and every organ of our body. The One who created humankind with His very hands—and the same One who saved humankind with His nail-pierced hands.

Jesus Christ. He promises us water that will never make us thirst again. Ever. Because He, well, He IS the living water, the well of life.

So let us come and drink. And be quenched. And filled. And satisfied.

FEET

FEET

If you would look at his feet, you would probably feel your insides lurch and belch. Because his feet, well, his feet are dirty and grimy, callused and bruised. You see, he was but a simple man. A carpenter. And simple men just walked—on dusty streets, on muds and puddles, with no shoes on.

But if you would look at the direction of his footsteps, you would surely feel your insides warm and soar. You see, his feet always moved—to the poor, to the hungry, to the sick, to the weeping, to the sinning. To everyone who needed him.

On and on his feet moved, responding to every cry and every call—yes, every call. Because when they called for his feet to be nailed to a cross, he did not walk away. Instead, he walked toward them… toward his death.

Because, you see, that was the very reason why he walked. He stepped down from heaven, walked among men, and trudged to Calvary, that all men would find their way to the path of life everlasting.

So do not look at his grubby, miry feet. Look instead at the direction of his footsteps.

But then, if you are poor, hungry, sick, weeping, or sinning, you won’t have to look for his feet. He will come to you. To bless you, fill you, heal you, comfort you, and forgive you. Just as he had come two millennia ago.

Because that was the very reason why he walked.

Love Letters

Love Letters

I recognized his handwriting instantly, so much so that I laughed remembering how awkwardly a pen fits in his hands. I recognized his words, so much so that I felt my heart skip as I imagined his voice whispering those to my ears. I recognized it all, so much so that I imagined his face, his smile, his love. The world around me faded, as I got drowned in his written words of love.

Love letters. They are more than just papers. They are passion-filled papers that overwhelm, even stop, our hearts. More than bringing romantic flashbacks, they produce a certain music that makes our spirits move and groove. And more than giving us shudders of excitement and delight, they create in us a certainty that someone is truly and deeply in love with us that all we can say in response is, “What an expression of love!”

Yet, I wonder, of all the love letters, these ‘love on paper,’ you have read, which do you consider as the best one? You might mention Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, Ninoy Aquino’s “I Have Fallen in Love with the Same Woman Three Times,” or, even, your grandma’s golden anniversary letter to your grandpa. Sure these all are sweet, but do any of these pass as the sweetest? They certainly ARE good, but are they the best? The grandest?

Let me introduce to you a lover I know. Then you decide.

This lover, like everyone else consumed with love, also wrote a letter. However, unlike many, His wasn’t on paper but on a cross… scribbled not by pen but by nails… painted not by ink but by His own blood.

Sounds unbelievable? Well, you wouldn’t believe this next one. That letter’s recipient…

…is you. Yes, you.

And for you He didn’t mind leaving His kingdom, didn’t mind being rejected, didn’t mind facing the cross, didn’t mind giving His all… even His life. He loves you so much, He didn’t mind. At all.

So yes, the best love letter ever written was for you… to reach out to you… and to save you.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16a)