Monday, March 29, 2010

The Testimony of Rino Sardon

I’ve personally known Rino for almost ten years now. He is a man of many talents and skills but like you and I, he is not perfect. As a professional, he is very successful, but amid his success he had a deep longing. Yet in spite of his struggles in life and the longing that he had, he remained faithful to God even at the bleakest moments. Read the whole length of his own testimony, and see how God blesses those who have faith in Him.

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My wife and I have been married for a little over eight years and never had children. Whenever the topic on children would pop up during social events, we would often receive comments like, 'you should have yourselves checked…', 'try this...', etc.

Back in 2005, I sincerely asked God: 'Will we have kids?'

God never answered and every year during the past four years, I dreaded the coming of Fathers' Day. Every time my heart aches, I would ask God again: 'Will we ever have kids?'

I have moved from asking, to bargaining('God, if you give me kids, I will…'), to sulking('God, if you don't want me to have kids, at least take away the heartache.') and even to manipulation('God, I don't really understand You, maybe if I become a father, I will understand You').

One day, I watched a movie entitled 'Facing the Giants'. The main characters were also childless and after so many attempts at having kids, the female lead character prayed, 'God, with or without children, I will love you…'. And I wept and surrendered my fatherhood to God.

It was never easy especially at children's parties, family days and Christmas. But I enjoy my time engaging my niece and nephews, always working on becoming the best uncle in the world.

And then finally, God spoke: 'Yes, you will have kids.'

My wife is pregnant, almost 7 weeks!

Friends, God continues to answer prayers as He did thousands of years ago! I wanted share with you my answered prayer so that you will have known someone personally who has just received from God.

I am not more prayerful nor holier than the next person. I do not have any special access to God than what is readily available for everyone. Nor do I have special 'connections' who bargain for me.

What I have is a personal relationship with God and Jesus, and this relationship gave me the boldness to ask for BIG things!

What have you been asking from God? Physical healing? Healing of relationships? A promotion or new business opportunity? A future spouse? THE big break?

Let me tell you this, God knows what's best for us even before we ask!

As I end my testimony, please allow me to pray for you,

Father, I thank you for these friends. You have placed specific desires in their hearts and yet after some disappointments they no longer ask for fear of getting disappointed. Heal these heartaches Father and give them fresh hearts, hearts that would receive You and Your will in their lives. Hearts that would continue to expectant and joyful.

Give them courage as they wait on You. Give them a double dose grace.

Father, I speak healing into their lives. I speak abundance both spiritually and materially. I speak courage and boldness as they press forward towards the goal that you have set before them.

Father, may our lives glorify You. We pray, in the name of Jesus.

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Isn't God truly wonderful! He can move mountains for those who are faithful to Him. He can do miracles in you too, if you allow Him to work in your life. As Rino stated, what you need is a personal relationship with Jesus, for if you know Him in a personal level, wouldn't it be easier to ask?

PS1: Thanks to Rino Sardon for sharing this wonderful and deeply personal testimony.

PS2: If you want to know how to have a personal relationship with Jesus but you don't know how, please e-mail me at, and I'll be glad to help you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Little Johnny's Little Secret

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
-- Proverbs 28:13

Little Johnny was a mischievous kid; he liked to do things his parents forbid him to do. If a glass broke, a marble tile cracked, a toy dismembered, a dog or cat shrieked in pain, Little Johnny’s parents were sure that he was at the heart of it; he was simply full of restless energy.

One sweltering March, Little Johnny’s family decided to spend the summer in Little Johnny’s Lola’s house up in mountains of Baguio to cool down and to bond with the gentle old lady. But for Little Johnny his excitement went beyond that, he couldn’t wait to get his fingers on those locally made sculptured statues, souvenirs, and antique pots and jars that his Lola sold in a little store just beside the family two-story ancestral home. So even before the family settled down after many hours of travel from Manila, Little Johnny dashed downstairs hardly hearing his mother’s stern warning, “Do not play in your Lola’s shop.” But instead of joining his older sister Corrine who was already in the front yard playing, he sneaked into the shop. Soon the little wooden anitos became naked cowboys, the pots transformed into hideouts of Indian bandits, and the jars, put on top of one another, turned into a replica of the leaning Tower of Pisa. Bang! Little Johnny almost jumped out of his skin with surprise when he heard the sound of a broken jar just behind him. To his horror, he must have accidentally backed off to his Lola’s favorite collection, an 18th century Chinese porcelain jar, for the broken pieces were now scattered all over the floor. Aha! Little Johnny’s blood turned cold when he heard the voice of her cunning sister Corrine who suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

After a one-sided negotiation, Corrine agreed to keep quiet as long as Little Johnny served her for the whole summer. They shook hands and the pact was sealed. Later when the rest of the family found out what happened to the jar, Little Johnny told his Lola that he saw a boy ran out from the antique shop though he couldn’t remember his face; Corrine supported his claim. Their Lola remained quiet. Relieved of a terrible punishment, Little Johnny sighed with relief but not for long, Corrine immediately made him her errand boy day in and day out; and she even made Little Johnny do her chores while she played with her dolls. Every time he complained, Corrine mocked going to their Lola, and Little Johnny would ran after her, begged her and promised her not to complain again.

Finally, after a month of cruel slavery, Little Johnny had enough. He went straight to his Lola who was inside the shop, and with a quivering voice and tears in his little eyes, he told her Lola everything that had happened in the shop. To his surprise, his Lola just smiled. “I knew Johnny what happened that day. I was by that window.” She pointed to a high window inside the shop, and through that window Little Johnny saw a window in the 2nd floor of his Lola ancestral home. “I saw everything that had happened inside the shop before the jar broke. I was just waiting for you to tell me the truth. I would have forgiven you right away because I love you more than the jar.” Johnny cried even harder.

It’s funny how at times we have to go through deep lengths just to cover a mistake, and multiplying our troubles in the process. When it comes to sin, we either justify it or deny it totally to ourselves, and hide it from others. But the problem is that everything we desire, think and do – good or bad – is not hidden from our God who sees thru the window of our life. We all sinned, aren't we? Instead of hiding, confess your sins to God for He is gentle and merciful...and He will surely heal your brokenness, and prosper you.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Letter From His Father

Jose was the son of a poor but proud farmer in a little barrio. In spite of their poverty, Jose’s father was firm in his decision never to sell the small parcel of land, which he inherited from Jose’s Lolo, where their little Nipa hut was standing even when most of their neighbors already sold theirs, and settled in the more progressive towns. His father was also adamant that his son should go to college even if he had to crawl on the ground to see this through.

After Jose graduated from high school his father sent him to the big city to study. Though he knew that his father had to break his back to support him, Jose did not decline; he dreamed of becoming a teacher. Jose threw himself into his studies with dedication, and went home only during summer breaks. Each year he came home, his father’s hair grew a little whiter as more wrinkles dashed across his once proud face; his once straight and sturdy body bent a little bit forward as bones emerged where prominent muscles used to be. What disturbed Jose more was that while his father smiled every time he was around, he lost a twinkle in his eyes. Deep in his heart Jose wanted to help his father, but he could not give up his dream, not now that he was getting closer to it. So with a heavy heart he left his father for his third year in college.

Everything went well, just like the previous years, until Jose met Jessica, a beautiful and sexy nursing student. Immediately, Jose fell head over heels for her. Unfortunately, Jessica was a drug addict, and it did not take long for Jose to be drawn into her tumultuous world – boozing, taking drugs, premarital sex, cutting classes, stealing, etc. Ultimately, Jose stopped schooling when he used the tuition fee money his father sent to him to buy cocaine for both of them. He didn’t tell his father for he knew that the news would break his father’s heart.

One day while in the department store, Jessica pick-pocketed and both of them got caught. Jessica was so mad at Jose, and blamed him – he got nervous – why they got caught. Right there and then, Jessica broke up with Jose, and disappeared for good. Realizing his terrible mistake, Jose went back to his barrio; he was ready to beg for his father’s forgiveness if he had to. But when he arrived in their little Nipa hut, his father was not there. Instead, his father’s best friend met him, and handed him a letter.

“Dear son. By the time you read this letter, I am already gone. Early this year I was diagnosed with cancer and was given only six months to leave. I was worried that you might not enroll for the next school year, so I chose not to tell you last summer. Don’t worry about your expenses for the next school year, I sold my father’s land and deposited the money in the bank. This should be enough to sustain you until you finish your studies. I am so sorry that I could not be there to attend your graduation. Though I haven’t said this to you before, I only have two treasured possessions after your mother died: my father’s land, and you my son. But you are my most cherished. Love, Papa.”

Jose sunk to his feet, and cried inconsolably as the sitting sun cast a shadow of his father’s Nipa hut.

God is our Heavenly Father, and He loves us so much. But God is also just and holy; He will not let evil deeds go unpunished. When misfortune falls upon you, do you look deep inside and you to see how you offended God and confess or do you hide your sin and blame others for it. Do you repent for your sin or do you regret being caught?

PS: When we sinned, we not only offended an Almighty God, but we also hurt a loving Father whose plan for us is all good and beautiful.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Battle That I Could Never Win

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
Luke 6:46

Mario wore a mask. He liked to pray the rosary, hear mass, and listen to Christian programs and music. In the outside, people perceived him as angelic, an obedient son, and a good student, but in the privacy of his own heart, he was broken. Behind closed doors, and away from the eyes of his admirers, Mario was an addict of pornography, and all the other vices surrounding it. He tried to break free not once or twice, but many, many times, and each time he tried, he got sucked deeper into a quicksand of sins.

The pattern was like this, he confessed to a priest, promised not to sin again, and with all the inner strength he could muster, resolved not to fall again. On the first week, the temptation was bearable, but on the succeeding weeks, Mario threw in the towel, and indulged himself like a hungry wild lion. As he gobbled the forbidden apple, tears flowed from his eyes, and his heart yelled in frustration, “Why it’s so damn hard to remain good!”

Are you Mario? Are you enchained by an addiction that is so insurmountable you felt like your rolling down on the slopes of Mt. Fuji, and you’re helpless to stop yourself from falling down? Does your heart desire to change, but you just can’t find the strength to break free?

I have a confession…I was Mario. I felt filthy, unworthy, ashamed, helpless, torn and broken inside. I smiled at the people around me, but there was bitterness in my tongue; I fought hard and long, but for every inch of victory, I retreated by a meter. I even sought help in the corner of self-help books, but all the same. Finally, in the midst of my desperation, I cried out to God for help.

It was December of 2006 in Japan. I was watching a recorded talk of Bo Sanchez, when God spoke to my heart: “You’re fighting alone.” … A flood of indescribable emotion came crashing down on me, and left me shaking and crying a bucket, as I realized what a fool I was all those years; I sinned against a loving God, but I was too proud to ask for His help; my mouth mumbled  – “I’m Sorry” – when my heart really said – “I don’t need you, I can do it on my own.” All those years I fought alone with all my might against the gates of hell, and I came down crawling on my knees.

Each one of us has his or her own battle to win, a chain that needs to be broken – pride; lust; uncontrollable anger; greed; envy; laziness; addiction to excessive eating, gambling, alcohol drinking, gaming, gossiping, and the list goes on. But you don’t have to fight alone. Jesus already won the battle for you, and for me in the cross; all we need to do is to make Him Lord of our life. Do you labor to study God’s words as written in the Holy Bible even if it means passing up playing Farmville or watching Rubi? Do you talk to God everyday even when you’re too busy or too tired from work? Do you follow God’s teachings and commandments even when you don’t feel like doing it?

When you find your heart crying out, “Why it’s to damn difficult to change or to remain good,” then maybe just maybe, you’re fighting alone. If confession or religiosity doesn’t change you into a better you, then maybe just maybe, Jesus is not yet the Lord of your life. Lean on Jesus, He is gentle at heart and He is willing to give you rest. Invite Him to your life; you can’t do it alone, but with Him on your side every battle is winnable.

PS: God freed me from my addiction to pornography. I’m still not perfect; I fall from time to time to other sins, but now I'm quick to stand up because I am clutching tightly to the hands of my God. Don’t fight alone, put God in the picture of your life, and connect to people who are passionate with God. In my case, I am forever indebted to Gerson Boston, and Bo Sanchez for helping me find my way back to God.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Mother was so Stubborn

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
-- Ephesians 2:8~9

As a little boy, I grew up caged by rules. The first rule I could remember was, “my older brother and I must sleep after lunch”. For the present me this is a very welcome rule, but for a six year old version of me, this was suffocating.

Our first house, where I grew up, was in a squatter area somewhere in Mabolo, Cebu City. Our little place back in the late 1970’s was not your typical slum today; there were many trees, and bananas, and we only had around four neighbors. Windy days were my favorite because I could clearly hear the leaves and branches slapping each other, made me feel like going out to run and feel the wind blew against my cheek, but my mother’s rule was really a killjoy. Still, there were times when I got crazy, and sneaked out when her chores or the radio program she was listening to carried her attention away from the sneaky little me. But after several memorable sessions with the long, small, firm, leaves-freshly-plucked guava tree branch, my mother’s favorite torture machine, I learned not to forget that rule.

After I graduated from the school where sleeping in the afternoon was the only subject, my mother enrolled me to the next discipline where the rule was, “study hard and finish your studies.” Under this rule, there was a statement, small enough to be hardly noticeable, enclosed in an open-close parenthesis – no barkada, no girlfriend. From elementary all the way to college, this rule became my breakfast, and dinner; I ate lunch at school. Fortunately for me, I did not have difficulty sticking to the rule because I simply liked going to school. However, when I reached second year high school there was a glitch -- I fell in love! Unfortunately, my mother was, and still is, very close to God. I suspected that when she noticed the new twinkle in my eyes, and the gel in hair, she tripled her prayers. As a result, I crashed and burnt in my first attempt at courtship, and I never courted again during the remainder of my high school days. The worse part was, my crush, the apple that couldn’t be mine, became my classmate from third year to fourth year.

Now that I am a licensed engineer, working for a big American firm, and blessed by my work, I can’t help but appreciate the stubbornness of my mother in implementing those silly rules, and pat my own shoulder for believing in her. Had I not, I am sure I wouldn't be what I am now.

God surrounded us with rules, and directions not to cage us, but to protect us from ourselves because we are like lotto betters, our vision of what is good for us in the long run, is as sure as our guess of what is the winning number tomorrow. No one knows exactly the future except God, for only His foresight extends to infinity. In His mercy for us, He gave us directions and warnings, so that we can avoid the deadly pitfalls in life. And in His great love for us, He gave us His only son Jesus Christ to act as our bridge back to Him. But to reconcile with the Almighty One, we have to believe in the Son, and follow His teachings and instructions. This is what it means to be faithful. Believe. Follow. When the time comes that you graduate to the next life, you can appreciate the stubbornness of God’s love for you, and you can pat your shoulder for believing in Him, all those years.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

An Angel's Voice From My Past

He said: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn [a] of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior — from violent men you save me. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
-- 2 Samuel 22:2-4

She had many top hit songs, a popularity that spanned around the globe, and wealth in the millions, yet she died at an early age of 32 as a result of Anorexia Nervosa or simply, starvation. Her unique, clear, distinct, and delicate voice had an angelic allure to the ear, yet her own spirit was broken, enslaved by her deadly vice. But even though the curtain of her life fell on a tragic note, I still remember Karen Carpenter for her beautiful songs most specially my favorite, “Love Me for What I Am.”

Karen Carpenter, along with her brother Richard, were certified superstars, and millionaires even when they were still in their early 20’s. But in spite of all of these, Karen was not happy; she was depressed, and suffering inside. Why? Think of that night when you played extremely well in basketball court or badminton court such that your friends and colleagues were still talking and bragging about you the next day. The more praises you received, the more pressure you felt building inside of you to come out the next night with an even better performance. In the case of Karen Carpenter, the pressure was not just to sing the next big hit song, but also to continually look slim on the stage, and in the camera. Her obsession, to always look great before the eyes of the world, started a deadly cycle of extreme dieting and skipping meals until her heart could take no more. At a young age of 32, the girl with an angelic voice died of heart attack. And the world was shocked!

My early childhood memories, as I tried to recall it, were in black and white, and most often, Charlie Chaplin-like (no voice), but the unforgettable tunes of the ABBA, the Beatles and of course, the Carpenters lingered on, long after I shelved my last toys in a long forgotten box. They gave me (and the world) their songs, a gift which served as an emotional thread that connected me to my wonderful but long forgotten past. So it broke my heart to see how the life of Karen Carpenter unfolded. I wish I could rewrite her life, but I can’t. Not one of us can.

The truth is, we don't live for wealth, prestige, power, and material possessions alone, we live to love God, and to care for others as much as ourselves. Once your life's priorities and direction skew from your Master Craftsman's design intent, and you start to live your life for your own satisfaction only, then one day you'll find out how lonely, empty, meaningless, and cruel your world has become. You'll have a yearning for something that your money can never buy nor the world can satisfy, and the worse part is, like Karen, you might never find out.

Karen gave us the gift with her beautiful songs. But unknowingly, she also gave us an important testimony, tragic as it was, that we are vulnerable no matter how rich, popular and influential we may become, if God is not in the picture of our life. For no matter who we are, we all need a rock to lean on, a fortress to protect us, and a deliverer to save us.

PS: Jesus Christ is our rock, fortress, and deliverer. No matter how broken you are right now, He loves you. Come to Him. He is waiting for you, with open arms, all this time, to heal your brokeness, to fill your emptiness, to give rest to your weariness, to protect you from your enemies, to give you light in the darkness of your days….

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Blood of the Lamb

The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains in him.
-- John 3:35-36

What I am about to tell you is of utmost importance. If this knowledge was kept secret to you in the past, then today be glad!

The movie, The Ten Commandment, was an adaptation of the history of the Jews as recorded in the Book of Exodus in the Holy Bible. I cannot really recall much of the story, though I planned to watch it again with my family during the Holy Week, but one of the scenes etched in my mind, was the tenth plague, the death of the first born of Egypt. Prior to this plague, the God Almighty, instructed the Jews through Moses that each man should slaughter a one-year old “male” sheep that had “no defect". Furthermore, that the blood was then to be poured on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lamb. This served as a sign, a marker to God. When midnight stroke, the deep silence of the night was broken by loud and frightening cries of sorrow, as all the first born in Egypt, man and animal, were killed by God, except in those houses marked by the blood of the lamb.

This part of the story should be etched in the memory of each and every one of us; in this, we get to see a glimpse of the blueprint of God’s plan for eternal salvation of man.

The door of the houses represents, our heart and mind. The blood of the lamb is the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Almighty God, for He was the only "man", and still is, who had "no defect, no sin". When Jesus died in the cross, man was not yet saved, but God provided man a means to be saved – the blood of Christ! So to be saved, we have to mark our heart and mind with the blood of Jesus Christ by fully accepting Him as our Lord, and Savior. And since we accepted Him as our Lord, we have to follow His commandments, teachings and ways.

When the time comes when we have to face our Creator, to be judged for eternity, no matter who we were on earth – rich, poor, powerful, helpless, celebrity, average, etc. – the God Almighty can see through us, and all the sins that we had committed, and we will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. But if our heart and mind were marked by the blood of Jesus Christ, the God Almighty will see in us not the sinful you and me, but Jesus, His beloved Son, the perfect One.

PS: Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. Only by accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior will we be reconciled with the Father, and thus be saved. Pray to God, the source of all wisdom, that He may give you understanding for you to fully comprehend His great plan.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Gift That is David

And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people.
-- 2 Samuel 4:12

David, as a young boy, shocked the world. He did what many seasoned warriors in his time thought was impossible; he slew the giant named Goliath. His accomplishment was so astonishing, he became an instant hero. And why not? The giant, Goliath, was nine-foot high, sturdy and strong, battle-tested, heavily armored, and menacingly armed with a big sharp sword, a heavy javelin, and thick shield, whereas David was just a young shepherd; harmlessly good-looking, lanky, and armed only with a silly-looking sling, with no armor whatsoever.

Imagine yourself being on the battlefield on that suspense-filled moment. The towering Goliath, just stepped confidently out of a long wall of boisterous Philistine army, while David slowly sneaked between the ranks of the discouraged, and demoralized Israelite soldiers; for 40 days Goliath mocked their guts morning and night. As David came down to the valley of Ellah, a no-man’s land between the opposing camps, he slid his hand into his sheepskin bag to grab the stones that he picked up from a nearby stream. He then looked up, and saw the wide blue sky, so peaceful. In his heart, there was no doubt to which side his God favored. David then fixed his eyes to the huge, and fearsome figure looming ahead of him, and smiled wickedly, for he saw not an invincible giant, but a very huge target! Swinging his sling with all his might, but with the controlled rage of a violin virtuoso, David charged towards Goliath. The earth's ground beat like a drum as dust spewed into the air with every impact of his feet, while all the soldiers in the battlefield froze in anticipation of David's demise. Suddenly, the soldiers of Israel broke out into wild jubilation mixed with astonishment, as Goliath body fell to the ground with a thunderous thud! The silence of the Philistine army, shock with fear, and disbelief, was deafening. On that day, the Lord had given victory to David and the Israelites.

Many years later, David became king of Israel. One night, standing in the rooftop of his palace in Jerusalem, King David reflected on all the victories that God had given him, starting with Goliath. In spite of his fame and power, he knew in his heart that he was victorious, not because of himself, but because God favored him, God made him victorious not because of him, but for the sake of His oppressed people.

Now consider this. What if you fell down from the 2nd floor of your house, and break your neck when you were still a baby? What if you got hit by a truck as you cross the street going to your school? What if dengue visited you or cancer barged into your body when you were still growing up? What if you met a fatal car accident in your way home?

There are a hundred reasons under the sun why we should not be here or why we should not have the measure of success, no matter how small it seems, that we enjoy right now. But we are here. And at this very moment, God gives us the opportunity to choose … to choose to be a David, and be a blessing to the unblessed or to be a Goliath, a person huge in promise and potential, yet accomplished nothing. For in the yardstick of God, our accomplishment is not measured by the number of pesos, houses and cars we accumulated in our lifetime, but by the number of prayers, we became the answer!

PS: In God’s master plan for man, our core gifts and talents are not just for us to enjoy, but also as tools to help and care for others.