Pentecost

When was the last time you truly surrender your life to God?

Tough question.

Difficult to answer.

Profound reflection for today’s gospel.

The “big message” for Pentecost Sunday that reverberated in the ampula of my pancreas was to be more selfless. Give up our own way and trust that God’s way is better.

When you put yourself last, God puts you first.

God’s will is always better than your will. You cannot see tomorrow, but He can. He wants you to be happy more than you want to be happy.

God’s will comes from living in a relationship with Jesus, and this relationship begins when you surrender your life completely to Him.

Pentecost

Jesus wants us to be more humble in how we recognize the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Lord is very clear that He will reveal Himself to us in recognizable ways, and so we have to look primarily at what’s going on inside of us. When we find ourselves capable of saying “I forgive” in the name of Christ; when we love those who oppose us and even make sacrifices for them; when we give of ourselves with delight and not grudgingly; all of these are sure signs that God’s Spirit is alive and active within us.

The word, Pentecost, comes from the Greek word for five, penta, meaning the fiftieth day. It was also called the Day of First Fruits, Festival of Weeks, and Shabuoth. In the Christian tradition, we use the color red, remembering the red flames of the Holy Spirit. It is a celebration of hope and renewal of purpose and mission.

If you have found that your Christian Faith is weak and not growing, you need to call upon the Holy Spirit. Whether it is a life-changing moment, or simply an ordinary moment when you need assistance, the Holy Spirit is there for you.

At that first Christian Pentecost, The Holy Spirit transformed uncertain, frightened, weak apostles and reconstituted the Twelve Tribes of the New Israel in the New Covenant. The flames that were unleashed that day continue to burn throughout the world in our day. The Holy Spirit can transform you too but you need to be more selfless.

It took Pentecost–and the power of the Spirit–to embolden the apostles to begin their ministry of preaching and baptizing. Conversions began to happen and the early church began to grow. And all of this took place without Jesus’ earthly presence among them.

We have to make way for the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We believe that through the Holy Spirit, God dwells within us and empowers us. We believe that even though we never walked with Jesus and the apostles, we are nonetheless accompanied by the same Spirit who is always available to us!

I will close with a wonderful and relevant prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola called the Suscipe:
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understandingand my entire will,

All I have and call my own. You have given all to me.

To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace.

That is enough for me.”

Let’s remember to pray for each other that we will achieve what Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Through the Holy Spirit, may we learn to yield more in God’s presence.

Fellowship

God wanted us to come together so that we always know we’re not alone.

It was one of the best family days I attended in the community.

Finally, after almost two (2) years of planning, our Light Group had a chance to step back a bit, to unwind and to enjoy summer at its best.

Light Group

1 Corinthians 14:26 “Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.”

It was a fun-filled weekend!

Just good vibes, more food, sunny weather and memorable memories of being one as a small family in the Light of Jesus (LOJ) community.

Our Light Group

Matthew 18:19-20 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The venue was too big for us but our giggles and laughters echoed like a thunderstorm in the secluded resort tucked in the heart of Amadeo and Tagaytay.

My Light Group (couples) were the most generous and kind-hearted bunch of servants. They always went out of their way to serve each other.

Led by Bro. Allan and Sis. Bebet Gayondato everyone was inspired to give more and to share more.

Bro. Fred and Sis. Jane Pagala sourced out the venue and like any mission-ready servants, they brought an arsenal of home-goodies to make the fellowship a memorable event like no other from complete set of chafing dish and the best-seller Becky’s Kitchen sweets and knick-knacks.

Bro. Anton and Sis. Flor Erni generously contributed for the venue fees and brought freshly picked and sweet red makopa fruit or wax apple from their farm and also a hefty serving of fresh crabs.

Bro. Don and Sis. Emily Consuegra prepared a piping hot Sinigang during dinner and some “agua de pataranta” for the brothers to enjoy.

Sis. Faye cooked a delish original Bicol Express recipe- seafood and meat combined.

Bro. Mark and Sis. Lorrie Calangian prepared a sumptuous feast of all-time favorite Filipino breakfast. With barely no sleep, they woke up early and became the couple chef in tandem.

Fellowship

Some of the yummy spread shared during our Light Group fellowship.

Our LG was heaven-sent for me, a mixed of future business moguls but humble in serving God. A pure heart to love and to be of service to others for the greater glory of God.

Fellowship like what we did our LG, help us to keep our eyes on God.

He also works through them to provide us what we need in darker times. Coming together with others can aid in our healing process and give us the encouragement to move forward.

Coming together is a great way for each of us to grow in our faith.

God gives us a gift of learning and growing when we come together in fellowship we show each other how to live as God wants us to live, and how to walk in His footsteps.

When we come together in fellowship, it’s like us as a whole demonstrating God. Think of it like a cake. You need the flour, sugar, eggs, oil, and more to make a cake. The eggs will never be the flour. None of them make up the cake alone. Yet together, all those ingredients make a delicious cake. All of us together show the glory of God.

No matter where we are in our faith, fellowship provides us with strength. Being around other believers gives us the chance to learn and grow in our faith.

La Salle

I had a chance to visit my Ninang/Dra. Laarni ‘Let’ Fajardo- Roque in De La Salle University- Manila.

Inside the chapel and etched in the main altar wall, I was struck by this beautiful quote from St. La Salle:  “Iniibig ko nang higit sa lahat ang kalooban ng Diyos para sa akin.” 

Gods will

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan. Together with Ninang/Dra. Let of PLM- Student Catholic Action and with Bro. Edward of our Light Group.

But what if God’s will for my life is not what I want? What if it involves discomfort, suffering and pain?

What if I don’t like it?

But, His will prevailed.

We are all living in a fast-paced, hard driven, “make it happen” world. Most of the time, I got distracted.

I find it difficult to see what He sees, hear the sound of His voice, and love and serve by the power of His Spirit within me.

I am still a work in progress.

Talking with Ninang Let today during my visit and also our sharing session with Bro. Edward during our Light Group, I’ve realized that:

We must migrate toward relationship with Him first and always! This is our only hope of real and lasting transformational change. Intimacy and presence is His power in you and through you.

We must examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate and reflect back to us the things that we may not be aware of. Once revealed, our love for Him should motivate us to take the steps He shows us to get healed.

We must look at our daily activities and check and see if the actions please the Father or grieve the Father. We should decide today to be “Father pleasers.” How we treat our spouses, how we love our children, how we give without having to receive, how we become absorbed with Him and others, rather than self all matter much to God.

Talk to Him often, but mostly listen. Jesus only did and said what the Father gave Him to do and say. Jesus is always our model. Sometimes Jesus would turn away the crowd, the noise, the ministry stuff, to get away with the Father. So must we. He loves to hear from you and He is big enough to listen to the gripes and complaints. He is also big enough to show you that the gripes and complaints are insignificant in light of His eternal plans for you. Take time to listen often, He will give you what you need more often than what you want.

Just love. God is love. Everything about Him oozes love. Love does not mean we ignore truth and justice. His perfect love always includes truth and justice. But how our hearts move towards truth and justice often reveals where we are in His love. Love seems to gravitate towards healing and restoration, rather than judgment. Love within you will cause you to not focus on self and you will pursue loving those who have hated and rejected you. You will pray for your enemies and you will begin relationships with those who are different than you. If anything you do is not founded on Love, then it is not founded on God.

Walk humbly before your God and with others. When I write, I am writing these things to myself as well. I thank God for my evolving development, but wow, I have a long way to go, just ask my wife Jude. The more I know, the more I don’t know and the more it keeps me pressed into Him.

No matter where you are in your life journey, God is constantly working in and through you. He is working daily in all of us.

And one day the time will come when that light bulb inside of us will click. That moment when it all makes sense. When we see and understand God’s plan for us and why certain relationships never worked out, and why others did. We will understand why our ultimate plan was not God’s.

And that moment may not be right now, and that is okay. To be honest it probably isn’t right now for a lot of us.

That is because we have to trust God and have faith that He will show us direction in our lives. That he will close doors that are not meant for us and will present us with new opportunities and open other doors that are indeed part of His plan.

Pen

Who writes your life story?

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday the message of Bro. Audee Villaraza, The Feast Bay Area AM Session Builder was on Joseph in the bible.

He said, “Don’t be so focused on what God has taken from you that you can’t see or believe that God will do something through you and He will turn it into good.”

Those words hit me hard.

When confronted with suffering that won’t go away or with even a minor problem; when every day feels like an insurmountable struggle, and the details of the present are all-consuming, it’s impossible to imagine anything else is happening.

Pen

God sees how it’s all going to work out in the end. He has a plan and we are all a part of it. And when God writes The End, the story will be a masterpiece that will leave us in awe and bring Him glory.

Few years ago, I was in an excruciating part of my story. It felt like an unending nightmare. In fact, it was probably the hardest year of my life.

How could anything good ever come out of unimaginable pain?

I prayed, trusted and waited for the Lord to change my situation, yet nothing had changed.

It wasn’t the plan I wanted for my life. Or for my wife and for my family. I felt helpless and hopeless. I couldn’t see God working in any of it.

Somewhere, in the middle of all the pain, God became real to me again.

Those desperate years when the Lord was silent, he was not absent. He had been there all along.

He gave me strength and courage to face life one day at a time.

I am still a work in progress. I don’t know how things are going to turn out.

But we can trust that God is in the story. And he is orchestrating the tiniest detail. We may not understand why, but we can be certain that God has a glorious purpose to the pain we are enduring.

I’m still in the middle of my story. While none of us know the joys and trials we have yet to encounter, we do know that Jesus will be with us through them.

Who is writing your life story today?

In my life right now, I am embarking on a new chapter of my life. I am venturing this year to a new challenge soon. It’s scary. It frightens me and I often worry what the future holds.

What joys will I experience and what sorrows will I endure?

But when I do this, when I worry and fret what the next chapter holds, I get in the way of the One who is supposed to be writing my story for me.

So often we try to control the pen. We try to direct our own lives.

We need to give God control of our lives – to let Him write out our life stories.

He knows what lies ahead of us.

Through the whole story, the Author (our God) is with us. He isn’t just watching our story unfold; he is guiding it, moving it along. He is intimately a part of it.

Prepare

Are you raising your kids to become an entrepreneur or a corporate slave?

The ‘Big Message’ in last week’s The Feast was ‘Preparation is Everything’.

Inspired by the story of Joseph in the bible – preparation is the price we pay to become great leaders.

Joseph was only 16 years old when his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelite traders.

The Pharaoh appointed him as the Governor of Egypt when he was thirty.

God spent 14 years just preparing his chosen leader.

Preparation takes time and let us be patient and not lose heart during the most difficult stages of our preparation.

For the Awesome Kids Ministry we shared to the children the value of preparing for the future by knowing the basic concept of money and honoring their parent’s effort of providing for the family and how to save money.

They made a simulated mini saving’s piggy bank adorned with colorful stickers.

Preparation Awesome Kids

Children learn everything from their parents. Raising children the right way is an invaluable way of helping them raise their parents’ grandchildren the right way. A culture full of spoiled children extinguishes the fire of earning what we have. A culture full of spoiled children encourages laziness. A culture full of spoiled children breeds spoiled and irresponsible adults. The ability of parents to discuss with their children financial responsibility is paramount. 

On a bigger picture, here are some
things you can do to raise your kids to become entrepreneurs according to PowerPinoys.com:

1. Encourage them to ask questions. Sadly, many Filipino people now are having this kind of mentality that “if you ask questions, you are dumb.” This is why many people now who instead of asking questions, they keep the questions to themselves which make them more ignorant. You better filter this kind of mentality from your kids.

Don’t Let this happen to your child. There’s are Filipino sayings that “Matalino ang batang mapagtanong” (Intelligent is a child who asks questions) and “Ang taong mapagtanong, daig ang marunong” (The inquisitive person surpassed the wise).

These words are just true. Asking is a form of active learning and this kind of learning results to a better retention. If your child ask you a question, answer his question then again ask you child something like “aren’t you going to ask why? or how?” or some other sort of followup questions. This way, you are programming your child to not just simply ask questions but you are programming your child to verify the answers as well.

Give your child scenarios that are new to them. This will make them think of the whats, whys and hows of A,B,C, and etc. You might want to give them valuable rewards if they got it right to encourage them to think more. Remember, keep your child always hungry for knowledge and encourage them to try new things.

2. Teach your child how to ask for help. Again, this is closely related to #1 but this is a bit different. Teach your child that if he cannot do a particular thing, the initial response should be to ask somebody who knows how to do that thing. Kids are in their learning stage where they need guidance. As a parent, you should help your child as much as possible BUT here are some points to remember:

  • Don’t spoon-feed them. Show them how to do it. Once they’ve seen it, let them try it on their own with your guidance.
  • Praise them if necessary to boost their confidence.
  • Ask them questions like “Can you think of better way to do this or that?”
  • Remember this proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. It is always worthwhile to teach your kids to do something than do it for them.

3. Teach them the importance and value of Teamwork. Let your kids know that not all the time, they can do every thing alone. Teach them that if they want to achieve big dreams, teamwork is necessary. Tell them they may be able to build their own house but they cannot create a high building alone or it may take them a lifetime.

4. Teach them how to be creative and analyze things. Always encourage your kids to try new things. Let them experiment on ideas and show them that learning can really be fun. You can send your kids to go music class and play instruments. Learning how to play piano, for example, can really boost your kids’ analytical and creativity skills while having fun.

Another thing you can help your kids improve skills while having fun is by providing them physical and digital games that touches creativity and analysis. One of the most famous toys that promotes creativity is Lego and other similar toys.

Have your walls bunch of interesting arts and other crafts. Tell your kids your favorite musician, artist, and scientists. Always ask them challenging “what if” questions that will push them to analyze situations.

5. Teach them how to save money. Being rich is not about how much money you are earning but it is about how much money you keep. You should teach your kids to not spend more than what they are earning, or else they will be in debt their whole lives.

You should teach them not to invest on things that loses value as time goes by. You should teach them to invest on things such as education, new skills and other self development stuffs they can use to earn money. You can start teaching them how to save money through their allowances.

6. Teach them how to learn from their mistakes & learn to accept rejections. You should tell your kids that not everyone and everything will work their way. Teach them to anticipate the worst case scenario and set solutions for those cases.

Practice your kids to commit mistakes and fail. Yes, fail. Kids who are not afraid of making mistakes and not afraid of what other people say are the ones who can handle risks and are emotionally stable. Teach them to learn on their mistake and laugh about it later.

7. Teach them how to be good at public speaking. Your kids don’t need to do what adults entrepreneur do. Simply exposing them in an environment where they can express their thoughts is a good place to start to learn public speaking. Let your child join other kids while playing on the playground and do some story telling activities. Simply having your child exposed in story telling or reporting type of activities will get away shyness and build confidence instead.

8. Teach them how to lead others. Your kids should learn how to motivate others to achieve a common goal. This skill can be acquired from you, the parent. Set a good example! If you are a father, you should be the leader in your family. You set goals for the the family, create budget (for moms), plans for leisure activities, etc. It will be automatic for your kids to be a good leader to.

Here are some skills and attitude you might want to impart your children to be good leaders.
Initiative, Consistency, Teamwork, Strategy, Planning, Perseverance, Decision making, and Good Communication.

11. Teach them how to sell. One of the biggest part of every business is selling. Any good company with good products or services, if not able to sell is good as nothing. The main point of making business is to create profit and if you cannot make any profit then what do you call your business? Charity?

This skill is where most people laugh at but are not good at. It has been injected to people’s mind that if you’re selling something, you are in a lowly situation which is a big no. Not all people have this skill but once you have this, it can be applied not just in business but in other aspects of life as well.

12. Teach them problem solving. Entrepreneurship is about solving other people’s problems. You may want to give your kids quizzes and puzzles to solve. Think of Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, rubicks cube, and etc. Playing computer games can also help them increase their problem solving skills. But be picky on what computer games they will play as there are computer games that only wastes your kids precious time.

Learning math is really a fun way of learning how to solve a problem. Let your child learn the value of math by showing them what they can do if they know math. You can also let your child learn problem solving through physics problems and a lot more.

Problem solving added with creativity is the ore of innovations. If you hone your kids’ skills on these, they will have a big advantage over others.

20%

Are you prepared for famine?

Sand, sea and sun collided today at the Ministry Fair 2018. Donned in eye-catching summer floral OOTD (outfit of the day), the servants encouraged attendees to sign-up for a Light Group (LG) and also to join a ministry.

The Ministry Fair was so successful because of good preparation and planning.

It was refined each year as the team learns from experience. They did some adjustments and fine tuning every year.

Preparation

The Awesome Kids Ministry servants in action. My Light Group (LG) sharing insights about Bro. Bo’s message. Joseph wisely saved 20% of the harvested grain, and was able to save not only Egypt during the famine, but the surrounding nations as well. That should be our goal—to be faithful stewards now while times are good, in preparation for any future hard times. Attendees (bottom right) signing up during the Ministry Fair 2018.

Preparation and planning for special events is very crucial, be it large or small.

This holds true also in life.

Bro. Bo Sanchez shared this ‘big’ message today preparation is everything.

He highlighted the bible story of Joseph who was thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

In prison Joseph interprets the dreams of the cupbearer and baker of Pharaoh and his interpretations are exactly correct.

Unfortunately, the ungrateful cupbearer, who promised to remember Joseph, forgot all about his promise as soon as he was free, and Joseph had to cope with yet another setback, with another blow to his hopes.

Joseph had to languish two more years in the dungeon, but he did not grow bitter.

He is prepared for the challenges that come to him in life and thinks not only of himself, but always of others.

Preparation is the price we pay to become great.

Joseph was only 16 years old when his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelite traders.

The Pharaoh appointed him as the Governor of Egypt when he was thirty.

God spent 14 years just preparing his chosen leader.

Preparation takes time and let us be patient and not lose heart during the most difficult stages of our preparation in life.

Joseph knew Egypt was in the midst of an economic boom (part of the economic cycle).

Joseph told Pharaoh that for the next seven years they should save one fifth (20%) of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.

This way, when the famine came they would have enough food to survive. The plan worked to perfection.

We can’t help but think about our own economy and how it parallels this story.

I came out of a time of great abundance when I was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and now I was in a tougher time.

OFWs that stored up provisionally during the boom time aren’t really affected by what’s going on right now.

They are barely affected by any economic slowdown.

Those that didn’t have the foresight to store up for the coming famine are faring much worse.

We can control how we handle our own finances.

There is always hope.

Bro. Bo encouraged everyone to live within their means and save the 20% of your earnings for investment.

Just as Joseph put Egypt on a pay-as-you-go economy and saved for the lean years, so should you and I put back some cash.

Pay raises are not forthcoming, and if our jobs are downsized, we are going to need cash to see us through.

Reduce expenses and save something out of each paycheck while you can.

Each of us must learn from the character of Joseph and examine the policies he put in place to administer the economy of Egypt and guide it through a massive downturn.

God will bless your efforts to manage your money and your life when you obey His laws and principles of financial management.

They were the basis for sound economic policies for Joseph, and they are sound household policies for you and me today.

Alleluia

Are you living as an Easter people of God or still in Golgotha?

As married couples, there are a lot of practical lessons that we can learn about relationship from the death and resurrection of Christ as shared by Fr. Mark Demanuele, MSSP during the Easter Recollection organized by the The Feast Bay Area Couple’s Ministry.

As a missionary, Fr. Mark shared his journey of challenges as an Easter person.

Easter people of God

The beauty of the cross is in the promise of Easter, where God shows His natures as a redeemer and restorer. If your marriage is in a time of stress and pain, put your hope in the one who sees past the immediate circumstances of your life and into a hopeful and wonderful future. It is very possible that God could use the current difficulty in your marriage to create something even more beautiful and enduring than you could ever imagine. As you celebrate Easter with your family this year, take some time to reflect on the meaning for your marriage. Allow the wonderful and powerful spiritual truths of Easter breathe new life into your relationship, and your bond will be stronger for it.

He pointed everyone to the powerful exhortation of St. John Paul II back in 1986:

“We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!”. We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the “fundamental duty of love of neighbour, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of Joy”. We realize that joy is demanding; it demands unselfishness; it demands a readiness to say with Mary: “Be it done unto me according to thy word”.

In particular if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up.

If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume and in due course bearing fruit.

Jesus resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.

Characteristics of Easter people as shared by Fr. Mark:

  • Easter people rejoice in Jesus’ death AND resurrection. (Romans 5:10)
  • Easter people preach the resurrection more than one day a year. (Acts 4:2)
  • Easter people long for their resurrection brought by Jesus as much as or if not more so than a temporary bodiless existence in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:7-11; Revelation 21)
  • Easter people long to see Jesus restore creation from the curse of decay. (Romans 8 )
  • Easter people speak up at great cost against the ‘principalities and powers’ of this world because Jesus is our risen King and he is king over them all. (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 2:7-9)
  • Easter people are willing to deny themselves and lose all things for the sake of Christ now because Christ, by the power of his resurrection, has promised to restore all things and reward his disciples in the ‘life after the next life’. (Matthew 19:27-28; Mark 10:28-31; Revelation 21:5)

As an “Easter People,” our response to the gift of forgiveness and eternal life compels us to try to live lives that reflect our new status. We are a people forgiven, healed and renewed by Jesus’ Body and Blood, and we are called to share that Good News with the whole world.

Our response can and should be rooted in love. As Jesus himself has told us, love for God and love for our neighbor is the foundation of Christian living. Because God first loved us, loved us so much that we were given God’s only son for our salvation, our response to this love is not only to love God as deeply and fully as we are able, but also to love everyone else as deeply and fully as we love ourselves.

As couples, our relationship with God matters most.

We need to nurture the loving relationship of husbands and wives like how Christ offered His life in the cross.

In this time of violence, strife, argument and disagreement, God continues to call us to love not to hate. God continues to call us to look beyond the immediate to the eternal.

What in a moment of anger or outrage might satisfy our pride is most probably not consistent with the loving future God wants for us.

It is not God who has created the turmoil that surrounds us; it is turmoil of our own making born from our love of self above our love of others.

This Easter, amidst the joy and celebration of our new lives in Christ, let us also celebrate the joy of new life with others.

Let us begin to set aside our pride and petty difference that not only separate us from each other, but also separate us from God.

Let us strive to become an “Easter People” who know and reflect God’s love through our love for one another as equals—equally beloved children of God.