Tight Inside

I was wrong to think someone was playing a prank. I guess when you have victimized too many, you would expect something will back fire at some point.

When no one came laughing from behind, my expectations died down. The driver motioned for me to get in as he slid the overly greased door of the van. My friend couldn’t make it so he asked a driver friend of his to pick me instead. I have no qualms, except that I thought the van I was in was more like a relic than a vehicle—reason why I thought the entire thing was a prank. I can tell it’s a make created long before Pepe Smith became legendary. It’s the sort that had loose screws all over. I could predict an accident.

Surprisingly, 10 minutes on the road and everything was still smooth and tight. Drivers should know what tight means. I realized I was wrong to judge that van. Yes it was falling apart on the outside, but it was screw-tight inside. By saying inside I’m referring to its engine. The scarcity of resources for repair drove its owner to make a choice between investing on the glam of the outside or the integrity of the inside. Obviously, he made the right choice.

20 minutes in that van was a life time worth of lesson for me.

The crucibles of life will wear and tear us down. In this fallen world, we will be scarred, pained, and wounded. Time will chip away our youth. Yet if we heavily invest on the inside, we are able to soldier on.

Outside adornment cannot guarantee anything, yet at times we think it’s our everything. True value lies on the imperishable, in our inner being. Make sure you are tightened inside.

Courage by Vantage

At 9’6”, Goliath’s comparable to the height of a basketball rim in the NBA.

The death of this warrior is a celebrated story in the world. He was killed in battle by a young man and there’s always been a revelry about the fashion at which the man of Gath was killed. I’d like to encircle the event that lead to the triumph—-the audacity to walk into the battle line to face a formidable foe despite the odds.

With neck stretched out, young David yelled at this bully and he summoned all the courage he had in his fickle frame. Amazingly, the yelling match between the two ended in a dramatic fashion with David cutting off the champion’s head after putting him down with a stone on the forehead. It ended with the Israelites winning that specific battle in a valley both camps will never forget.

Got me thinking, with such level of odds stacked against you, where does one get such courage? Goliath was a towering reality. It’s no different with our circumstances, problems, and fear.

My analysis is this: When everyone looks at the towering man at 9’6”, they realize their less than 6’0” frame can’t stand a chance. They become like dogs tucking their tails behind their legs. But when David looks at this giant, he foolishly scorns at him and mocks his arrogance.

Why the confidence? Why the courage?

Because the shepherd boy, for countless times have had his eyes fixated on the heavens.

Scattered in Psalms are the words of David saying things like:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

He looks to the heavens and starts thinking, “I will look upon the goodness of the lord in the land of the living.”

He looks at the heavens and starts saying, “who am I that you are mindful of me?”

He looks to the heavens and starts declaring, “Whom shall I fear?”

It’s like saying, if my God is beyond cosmic in size, power, and strength, and then he sets his eyes upon me, what then is there to be afraid of?

Courage has something to do with vantage. A 9’6” trouble maker is laughable compared the infinite frame of our Maker. The expanse of the heavens is also the depth of his wisdom and power made available to those who put his hope in him.

Syria Keeps Bleeding

The back portion of the room was emptied as almost everyone made a hurried descent to the front where we were waiting.

The translator just said, “turid alsalata?” (You want prayers?) She then motioned to everyone to come forward if they wanted to be prayed for. That was perhaps one of the most effortless altar calls I’ve ever seen, almost Billy Grahamic in its euphoria.

I’m used to praying for people. I shuffle, group, lay hands, and pray for prayer requests on envelopes from people in the church I help pastor every single week. And I have been doing that as part of the staff for 12 years now.

This one was different.

The people who have attended this gathering were mostly Iraqis, Syrians, Arminians, and Kurdish people displaced by war in their home towns. Most of them are part of the millions of refugees who fled to Lebanon at the thick of the IS heightened terror in their towns. As the interpreter would tell me where they were from, I thought, “these are the places I hear on CNN—-Aleppo and Damascus in Syria and Mosul, Iraq.”

One by one we would ask them what they might want us to pray for. A frail old woman in her 80s, with her voice breaking, told me she only wanted to see her son before she dies. They got separated in the thick of the chaos and she fears that her son is dead. When I started praying, it was my voice that was breaking. There was this lady who would trade everything just to have a family reunion, she just wanted to see everyone so she could hug them. Another one wants the war to be over so they can go back home and rebuild their lives. There were dozens of them. Armed with no English at all, their eyes say it all. Eyes that have seen the most evil potentials of men, horrors that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

It was a great relief when I was told that the war with IS could be over in a year or two. But just recently, Ghouta in Syria, home to almost half a million people half of which are minors, was bombed in an effort to purge rebels off their turf. With the complexity of the situation, we understand that this could not be entirely a battle with IS alone, but it yields the same result—-death. I’m praying that despite the reality that this terror is foreign to us, we will ask for God’s sovereign mercy over the land of Syria. I ask of you, beloved, fervently pray for the people in that part of the world. #SyriaIsBleeding

Not All is Lost When all Seems Lost

Losing is integrated in life just as success is. If there might be anyone who’d ra ra ra & switch you to believing all of life is about winning, either that person is a liar or is living in denial, because even the epistles of Paul are all about prison, poverty, and perseverance.

To confront the reality of losing as what this read is does not mean we’re devoid of faith. Because after all, faith by description, is a current exercise looking into a future state. So the exercise of faith thrives in gloomy situations.

If you evaluate it properly, you’d realize it’s a little more difficult to proceed with the next episode of your life if all of your being is thrown into something that has suddenly dissipated.

Like the shore water that reveals the variety of corals when it retreats during low tide, losing surfaces that which we truly hide.

Where Christ is not just an additive or a supplement to augment, there is an unrivaled joy that no matter the losses, there are reasons to hope.

If Christ is the true treasure we keep then not all is lost when all seems lost.

“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Paul

And it was so


The book of Genesis starts by narrating how dark, formless and void the world was. (1:2) But the chapter ends in total contrast as it states that everything was very good! (1:31)

Darkness, formlesness and voidness are not good. When God did something about it, everything became very good.

Genesis records that darkness, formlesness, and voidness were dealt with a series of “And God said” (1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24) and culminated with: “And it was so.” (1:30)

God said it and it was so!

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How should my quiet time end?

Man with Bible

A quiet time is an alone time with God. It is an opportune moment to tune in and quietly listen to God’s personal directives for us. But these moments are not just descriptive of how our time should be with the Lord, it focuses more on the fruit of those precious times—a quieted heart for the restless soul.

1 Samuel 1 records in detail how Hannah would have her “quiet times” in a not so quiet way. She was in an emotional whirlwind that was devastating her.

Hannah pretty much had problems like what some of us have today: She was barren (1:2), she was persecuted (1:7), she felt like her husband didn’t understand her (1:8), her leader misjudged her (1:14). With all the problems she had, she wept bitterly before the Lord.

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The man who was naked & wounded


Nothing can be worse than seeing a guy running around naked. This isn’t a frat initiation. John Mark’s record tells of a guy who was  insane, naked, violent, strong, dirty, yelling, and worst— night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. (Mk.5:5)

This guy’s demonized.

Continue reading “The man who was naked & wounded”