Monday, August 10, 2009


God is an “over-blesser”! Whatever the Lord does is lavish, generous, “exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or even think.” (Eph. 3:20) Unimaginable blessings are stored up, prepared by God for me from before the foundation of the world. They are not meager or skimpy. We don’t have to beg God for a blessing. They are pressed down, shaken together, and running over just waiting for me to receive them, to simply ask for them. (1 Cor. 2:9; James 4:2) God outdoes Himself in giving me far more than I need. He has an unparalleled record of faithfulness in providing for the needs of His own people. Case histories abound throughout the Scriptures.

In Mark chapter eight, Jesus took seven loaves of bread and fed 4,000 people. Seven large baskets full of leftovers were collected. He had previously taken five loaves and fed 5,000, and the disciples gathered twelve baskets full of leftovers. What do you suppose they did with them?

We know one thing they didn’t do. They didn’t take any with them. Immediately after the seven leftover loaves miracle the disciples were crossing the sea in a boat. Let the record show, “They had forgotten to take bread; and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them.” What were they thinking? Wouldn’t you have expected them to take at least a few leftovers with them? Or how about none at all? Didn’t they believe that Jesus could miraculously feed their small group in view of what He had just done?

Jesus was aware of their anxiety, and He reproved them, “Why do you discuss your lack of bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?” He went over the details of the two above miracles of multiplication in case they had missed the point. One loaf would have been more than enough.

If necessary, Jesus could have added peanut butter and jelly to the bread that He was able to multiply. He could cause fish to jump into the boat at His command and prepare them on a charcoal grill as He later would do after His resurrection. He could have “prepared a table before them” providing salad, vegetables, and a desert if He wanted to.

Let’s not fault the disciples too much. With the history of God’s faithfulness in my own life, can’t I trust Him to be incredibly generous to abundantly satisfy my physical, material, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual needs beyond all I can ask or think according to His riches in Glory? (Phil. 4:19) All I need to do is ask for them, thank Him that the supply is on the way, confidently expect it, and receive it with joy and gratitude when it arrives in His perfect time.

I should ask largely, and God will give me largely. With those bountiful, overflowing leftovers, more than enough for my own needs, I will not waste them, but share them generously with others in need.


Saturday, August 8, 2009


Don’t you answer the phone when it rings?

Don’t you go to the door and open it when someone knocks?

You wouldn’t simply ignore a friend or a stranger when he asks you a question.

I have come to believe that when anyone comes into my orbit on a given day, God has sent him or her. What do I mean by my “orbit”? A secondary meaning, beside the primary one concerning circulating planets, is “the usual course of a person’s life or range of activities.” It relates to “circum-” whatever becomes a part of my circumstances or circulates around me; a happening that has something to do with me. It may be a person, an impression, or a reminder of someone that enters my circle of thought.

If it is person who enters my orbit today in some manner, I take it that God intends for me to pray for him immediately, even simply lifting my heart to God, and asking whether or not He has something for me to say to encourage or help him. (I must be sensitive; sometimes God impresses me that prayer is enough.)

On the other hand, perhaps a person may have come into my life to bring a word from God to me to encourage me, correct me, challenge me, or inspire or guide me. I try to be open and welcome that word through the one He has sent.

So I ask our Heavenly Father every single morning to intimately schedule my day for me, to bring into my life that day everything and only, whatever and whomever He wills. I should not consider anything, therefore, as an interruption to fret about or resist changes to my well-laid plans. Such disruptions are not accidental or are any events that happen incidental. They are my opportunities and God's appointments ordained for my good and for His glory.

I pray for God to filter out time-wasters and those who will sap my energy through trivial talk or petty matters. For this I need discernment. We must be careful to “be about our Father’s business” as Jesus stated it.

Lord, keep my eyes and heart open, and my ears tuned so I can fulfill Jesus’ words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Today and every day is a fresh day to love God and walk with Him and serve Him in our specific orbit. His surprises and serendipities may be waiting right around the corner with your next e-mail, phone call, or knock on the door.



I love to say the word “delight.” It even sounds delicious; you can almost taste it. The dictionary meaning is: “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment, or satisfaction; to be greatly pleased, charmed, enraptured.”

The Psalmist declares in 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” How can we do that?

To delight yourself in the Lord is to desire and enjoy the nearness of His presence and the truth and righteousness of His Word. (Job.22:26; 27:10; Is. 58:14). Those who delight themselves in the Lord receive what they yearn for, wish for, and long for in their very heart of hearts.

There must be some conditions, of course. We must desire in accordance with God’s will (John 15:7). The secret of receiving what we desire is remaining in and abiding in Christ. The closer we live to Christ through meditation on and study of who He is and what He has said in Scripture, the more our prayers will be in line with the nature and words of Christ, and thus the more effectual our prayers will be.

It is a serious thing to pray in Jesus’ Name; we are invoking, as it were, His power of attorney by the use of His name. It is a legal transaction that involves at least several things: Praying in harmony with His person, character and will; praying with faith in Him, His ability, willingness, and authority, and with the desire to glorify both the Father and the Son. Praying in the Name of Jesus, therefore, means that Jesus will answer any prayer that He would have prayed Himself. There is no limit to the power of prayer when addressed to Jesus or the Father in faith according to His desire.

Why could God risk making such a lavish and all-encompassing promise? Because when we delight ourselves in God and His will, God Himself places the very desires within our hearts that He wants to fulfill. (Phil. 2:13) And it all comes about not through hard work and laborious pleading with God, but simply by enjoying Him!

How generous is our loving heavenly Father!


Thursday, August 6, 2009



“Grandma, I wish I could receive the bread and wine at Mass like you do.”

“You will after you go to the classes and become Confirmed someday. It’s a very wonderful and serious thing to do.”

“But I can still line up and go up front to the priest with you and cross my arms in front of me. It’s so cool when the priest touches my head and blesses me. It reminds me of my baptism day.”

“Even though you can’t receive the Eucharist now, you are already a Catholic because of your baptism.”

“That’s a strange word. What’s the Eucharist?

“That means the bread and the wine. It comes from a Greek word meaning ‘thanksgiving.’ We are thankful to God for sending His Son Jesus to the people of the world so that whoever believes in Him and what He did for us when He died on the cross, can live forever with Him in heaven.”

“What I’d like to know is does the wine taste like blood and the little round white piece of something taste like a piece of body?”

“Before I explain that, let’s back up a bit, Jeffrey. Would you like to know a whole bunch of new words?”

“I’m always up for new words so I can use them in our Scrabble game!”

“We’ll start with some short ones and then throw a really long one at you, ok? Mass is what Catholics call our worship gathering and all that goes on there. It’s not the same as what your friend Jon calls their ‘service’ at the Baptist church where his family goes.”

“Yeah, I know it’s different because Jon says they sing a lot of songs with the words on a big screen, and then their pastor talks a long time about some verses in the Bible. Everyone brings his Bible to church and looks up in it what the pastor is preaching about. He said they have the bread and grape juice only once a month, and the juice is in tiny glasses, and they serve little squares of soft bread. Jon’s parents let him to take it too since he already asked Jesus to come into his heart.”

“OK, Jeffrey, here come more new words. The host is what the bread is called, and it comes in the form of a white, unleavened, pure wheat wafer. Real wine, not grape juice, is offered in a large silver or gold cup called a chalice.”

“Whoa. What’s ‘unleavened’ mean?”

“That means no salt or yeast or baking powder in it to make it rise like regular bread or biscuits. It is only wheat flour and water. The priest is doing all these things at the altar, which is the big table with the fancy tablecloth at the front of the church. After the host is consecrated and blessed by the priest, it becomes the body and blood of Jesus, and….”

“Stop again, Grandma. What do you mean consecrated and how does the priest do that?”

“He prays a special prayer and makes the sign of the cross over the elements, which is what we call the host and the wine. He asks God to change them into the body and blood of Jesus. Here comes the longest word: When that happens, it is called transubstantiation, the big word which means ‘change in its substance.’ After the bread is consecrated, it is holy and is called ‘The Blessed Sacrament.’

“Then it’s like magic? The bread and wine don’t look or taste like they did before?”

“No, not magic. That’s not what happens. Those elements do become the real body and blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics believe in The Real Presence, that Jesus is really there. The elements are not just symbols, like Jon’s church believes. Catholics believe exactly what Jesus said in the Bible in the gospel of John chapter 6. Jesus even gave his disciples the very words to say and what to do in Luke chapter 22 just before he died.”

“Let me get this straight, Grandma. The wine and the host are changed but they aren’t changed—but they are changed?”

“I’ll try to explain it a little more. Do you know what ‘matter’ is?”

“I think so. It’s stuff—like what everything is made of. I think we learned in science that it is something that occupies space. Something not invisible.”

“That’s good, Jeffrey. Now you have to think really, really deep on this—are you ready? All matter has two aspects: its substance and its appearance. The substance is what the thing is "deep down inside," so to speak. Its appearance is what we can observe with our five senses. The priest is given authority by the Catholic Church to consecrate the bread and wine. After he does, their appearance remains exactly the same, but their substance changes. The "breadness" and "wineness" disappear and in their places are Christ's body and blood.”

“Grandma, does that mean that the elements are really changed, but we don’t see any change? Could a high-powered microscope tell any difference?”

“A change does take place but not even a microscope can see it. And the answer is No to the question you first asked me, whether they taste like flesh and blood. The taste doesn’t change. Although the consecrated bread is no longer bread, when you swallow it, it acts in your body as though it were still ordinary bread. For instance, if someone is allergic to wheat-based food, he may have a reaction to it. If you were to drink lots of consecrated wine, you would get drunk. If someone with a cold or flu virus leaves germs on the chalice, someone might become ill. Bacteria and viruses are not transubstantiated.”

“What happens to the leftovers? Are they un-consecrated and go back to being plain bread and wine?”

“They remain consecrated and are very holy and precious. That’s why we must be so careful not to drop any crumbs or spill any wine. The priest puts the rest of the host that is not distributed during the Eucharist in an enclosed, locked, beautiful box-like receptacle called the Tabernacle which is usually located behind or to the side of the altar.”

“What does the priest do with it?”

“The Eucharist is taken to people who can’t come to Mass, like Catholics who are shut-in or those in the hospital or nursing homes. One of the consecrated wafers is displayed reverently in our Adoration Chapel for people to come there and pray and be with Jesus. We’ll talk about that sometime too, Jeffrey.”

Whew! What a lot to learn! I’m not sure I understand it all yet, but I know it’s not magic. It’s another one of those mysteries, but a really big one this time!”


Monday, August 3, 2009



“Grandma, why doesn’t my Bible, the one with gold-edged pages, look like your Bible? Yours is big and thick with really thin pages. Mine is easy reading. Yours has complicated words.”

“The Bible Storybook I gave you on your baptism day is not really a word-for-word Bible. It has many stories retold from the Bible with pictures that an artist imagined in his mind would go with the stories. Mine is a copy of the real Bible with the words translated into English from the earliest manuscripts in which it was written.”

“Is that a real picture of God in the first story about Adam and Eve in my Storybook? The man with gray hair and a long beard in a white gown sort of floating out of the sky?”

“No. God isn’t a man so he doesn’t look like a person. God is a spirit and no one has ever seen him so no one can take his picture. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t real. God is the most real thing in the whole universe.”

“Who created him?”

“No one. God always was and always will be. That’s what we mean when we say God is eternal. He existed before anything else and created everything that is anywhere.”

“You said that the Bible is God’s word. How did he write it? What language did he use?”

“The Bible is the Word of God in human words. Some of it was written in Hebrew, some in Aramaic, and Greek. It was written by dozens of people over more than a thousand years. It is like a whole library of books, but it is also one book, with one Author—God—telling one story about how God revealed himself to mankind.”

“Did God dictate the words in the Bible to the human authors?”

“No, Jeffrey, God made use of their individual skills and styles and literary techniques and inspired them to put God’s thoughts into human words. God acted in the people and through them to reveal all that he wanted people to know.”

“I guess not all the stories in your big Bible are in my Storybook.”

“You’re right. The writer who selected the stories picked some important events and characters to show the whole plan God had from the beginning of the world to save people on the earth so they could be with him in heaven forever. Part of the Bible is about what happened in that certain part of the world in the thousands of years before Jesus was born. The last part is about Jesus and how God worked miracles and healings through him and how he was put to death by the people who wouldn’t accept him as God’s son.”

“In what part of the world did all those things in the Bible take place?”

“Some of the ancient countries way back then had different names like Persia or Babylon which are modern day Iran and Iraq, but some still have the same like Israel and Egypt and Lebanon. The Bible events took place in the countries of the Near East and North Africa and Northward to Italy, Greece, and parts of what is now Europe. Of course this was long before America was discovered.”

“You said God explained his plan to save the world to ‘God’s people’. Who were ‘God’s people’?”

“God picked out one ethnic culture, the Jewish people, to show his plan of salvation in the beginning and keep them separate from some of the wicked countries around them. But with the coming of Jesus, his plan included all the peoples of the world, which was God’s original intention from the time he created mankind. Jesus gave his life so that all the world’s people could be offered salvation and the forgiveness of sins.”

“In the front of my Bible Storybook it says the stories are divided up into Old Testament and New Testament. What does “testament” mean?”

“That’s an old English word that means “covenant” or a solemn agreement between families, groups of people, or nations. The way the word is used here means an agreement between God and his people at certain stages of their learning.”

“What’s the Old Testament mostly about?”

“There are four main divisions: THE LAW tells about the beginnings of everything and the Ten Commandments and rules for life and worship in those ancient times; HISTORY tells about the Jewish people and their wars and conquests and kingdoms; the WISDOM books are moral instructions and personal virtues; PROPHECY is a record of God’s judgment on those who do wrong and his promised blessings on those who follow God’s ways.”

“Whew! That is a lot to remember! Can we wait and learn what’s in the New Testament next time? I’d like to know how anybody figured out what, out of all the many other things people wrote, should be put in the Bible….”

“Yes, let’s wait. You can’t learn everything all in one day, Jeffrey. The New Testament is really exciting about the life of Jesus and the story of the beginning of the Church.”