One of my favorite verses has been John 3:30 which says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

I have had to recite this verse often, sometimes every day.

How come? There are days and moments I really want to increase – to be ‘the man’, to be the answer to every solution, to be the hero of the story.

Wanting to look good has never been a problem for me.  To protect or even improve what people think is so natural for me.

That only shows the rottenness of my own heart. I guess, that’s why Jesus had to save me.  And He still is saving me from this rotten attitude.

Read what Pastor Tullian says about this from his book “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.”

Returning to the gospel is a return to reality. Reminded of the gospel, we’re reminded that sin enslaves by making us big; the gospel frees by making us small. Our self-esteem culture would have us believe that the bigger we become, the freer we’ll be. But the gospel turns that on its head—the smaller we become, the freer we will be. We begin to decrease; Christ begins to increase. The world says the more independent you become, the freer and stronger you’ll be; the gospel says the more dependent on God you become, the freer and stronger you’ll be.



I’ve often wondered about this growing up.

If Jesus died on that particular day, then why would that be good?

When Jesus was crucified, there were several statements he was declaring.

One of which was “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Now because this was a marketplace term (tetelestai in Greek), people probably were looking around if there was a transaction going on… or buying or selling of goods… or an exchange of items… or something of that sort.

How come? That term meant “PAID IN FULL.”

Now if Jesus blurted this out referring to himself being the ‘payer’, who then is the one in debt?

That would be me… and you.

All my greed and yours, all my lust and yours, all my pride and yours, all my immorality and yours…fornication, murder, addictions, adultery, dishonoring parents, dishonoring God…  the list goes on and on and on.

Those, he paid for in full by his death on the cross.

If he paid it in full, how much of our debt we need to try to pay for?

Silly question but it’s interesting how people still do the very thing that seems silly.

We pay for something already paid in full. How?

By trying to follow the list of commands given in the Scriptures thinking it can save us or make us more saved (if that were even possible).

What’s so good about Good Friday?

He paid a debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay!


Since I grew up in a single parent home, I remember growing up (together with my siblings) with our househelpers. One of our ate’s, her name was Luz, had lots of things she downloaded to us during Holy Week.

Here’s Ate Luz’ top 5 things she told us every time Lenten season hits.

1. I can’t play during Holy Week, especially on Black Saturday since Jesus was dead.
2. I can’t take a shower on Good Friday, especially after 3pm. This one, I didn’t really mind as a kid. Haha!
3. Bad spirits are out during Holy Week because Jesus is dead.
4. Load up your amulets (anting anting) with prayers for more power. This one, I didn’t really understand.

No. 5 was my favorite…

5. I can’t cut my nails on Good Friday because just in case I cut my skin and wound it, it will not heal for a very long time.

Funny but for a long time, I held on to these beliefs as well.

But if there was one thing I learned and held on since I gave my life to Christ was the fact that Jesus took my sin and as a result, what I got was His righteousness. It was indeed an unfair exchange.

John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).

In the Old Testament, the Passover lamb would only ‘cover’ the sin of the people. And it was for a limited time and a limited geographical location.

However, when Jesus came and died, He didn’t just cover my sin. He took away my sin.

Ps. 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

My greed, lust, imm0rality, pride, hatred, anger, unforgiveness… the list goes on and on and on…

All those, He took.  Bible scholars call that as imputation. My sin imputed on Him and His righteousness imputed on me. Unfair deal? You bet. But I’ll take it any day.

Listen to what Martin Luther said,

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.” 


A grateful heart.

Jesus, thanks! I am forever grateful!


I’m not that bad, right? Compared to Hitler or Osama, I’m not a bad guy.

For sure, you and I can argue that point. And a thousand to one, we will win it.

However, that’s really not the point. We’re not as bad as those guys are. But we’re all as bad off as those guys.

Sin in its original meaning is ‘missing the mark.’ If hitting the bullseye was perfect obedience to God’s commands, then missing the target would be a transgression.

Now whether you miss it 5 millimeters or 5 meters, the fact is that you still missed it.

There’s no such thing as sort of bullseye.  It’s either a bullseye or not a bullseye.  Thus, there’s no such thing as “I sort of sinned.” It’s either I sinned or I didn’t.

So if I sinned and fell short, together with the rest of mankind (Romans 3:23), then there’s a debt I owe. Paying for that debt would be the logical thing to do.

However, the requirement God had for debt of sin to be paid was death. Not death by anyone, but death of an unblemished and perfect lamb. (Check out my last post here.)

This where the concept of substitutionary sacrifice comes in.

The penalty for my sin can be paid for by substitution.  But it needed to be by a perfect sacrifice. Thus, being imperfect myself, I am unable to pay for my debt.

Someone perfect, without sin had to take my place.

In this case, Jesus did.

Jesus paid the debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.

This is an unfair deal. For sure. Yet it was the Great Exchange. My sin for His righteousness and His righteousness for my sin.

To this Paul makes a declaration,

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

What a great salvation we have!


Was it necessary? I can actually think of 3 other ways Jesus could avoid dying.

1. Couldn’t the Creator (God) just release Divine Pardon for His creation? Call it quits. Forgive. Amnesty.

2. Or how about suffering for my sins? I’ll try to cover what I’ve done by suffering for it?

3. Better yet, what if I try to pay for it by doing good – from giving to the poor to reading my Bible more?

The more I study the Passover story, the more I understand the big picture.

When the Israelites cried out to God for deliverance from the Egyptians, God raised up a deliverer in the person of Moses. Moses goes before Pharaoh to give Yahweh’s directive to “let His people go.”

Because of Pharaoh’s hard heart, God sends 10 plagues to judge the 10 gods of Egypt – from Heqet to Ra. All the 9 affected the Egyptians but not the Israelites.  However, on the 10th plague (the death of the first born), Israel was not exempted.

They however were given a way out – that if they kill a lamb that is unblemished and perfect, sprinkle the blood on the doorposts of their houses, then the ‘destroyer’ (Ex.12:23) will passover their houses and spare the male firstborn children.

Whenever they would celebrate Passover from then on, the firstborn will look at the table and remember, “the only reason I’m alive is because that thing on the table isn’t.” It was either a dead son or a dead lamb.

Fast forward 1500 years, the Israelites were still celebrating the Passover.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took both the bread and the cup.

Everyone around the table were probably wondering, “the bread and the wine are here, but where’s the lamb?”

That night, the lamb was not on the table because The Lamb was at the table.

No wonder John the Baptist declared when he saw Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

He no longer covers sin. He takes away sin.

He alone could do it.  The lamb had to be perfect, without defect.

Jesus because like one of us yet he was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

He alone could identify with us because He was fully human. But at the same breath, He alone could fulfill the requirement to appease God’s wrath toward sin because He was fully divine and without sin.

Did Jesus have to die?

A definite YES!


I was reading my Bible this morning and I read an interesting passage that grabbed my attention.

“Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did at the Passover Celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.” (John 2:23-25, NLT)

Jesus really knew.

Many people these days “follow” Jesus the way they follow Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber on Twitter.  But if they ask Lady Gaga or Justin, they wouldn’t know a thing about them.  Why? There really isn’t any relationship.

Unfortunately, what happened in John chapter 2 still happens to this very day.

People follow the miracles and not the Miracle Worker.
They follow the blessings, not the Blesser.
They follow the healing, not the Healer.

Who or what do you follow? Jesus or His miracles.

Good question to ask ourselves every single day we wake up.


As I was preparing for yesterday’s message on Romans 7, I was reminded of a quote Pastor Joey Bonifacio made in one of our conversations.

“Being married to a perfect spouse is not wrong. It’s just tiring.”

That is what life is when we’re married to the LAW. We need to keep measuring up and trying to keep up.

There are 613 laws in the Old Testament and trying to keep all of them is a worthy effort but it will only show us that we can’t. We can try but it will be tiring.

James tells us that breaking just one part of the law will make us guilty of breaking the whole law.

Romans 3:20 says, ” Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

The law makes us conscious of sin. In fact, it is like a school teacher (tutor) that points us to Jesus.

Therefore the law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)

The law reveals sin but it is powerless to remove sin. It points to righteousness but it can never produce it.

What then is the way to righteousness?

Martin Luther said, ”

“Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God.” 

It is only by the grace of God and through the imputed righteousness of Christ that we can be declared righteous. His death on the cross paid the penalty, justifies us from sin and declares us righteous before God’s eyes.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:21)



Can a person who has been saved and fall away come back to the Lord?

Certainly.  His grace is so much bigger than our sin.

Watch this testimony as Luis shares what Jesus has done in his life.



Does time really heal all wounds?

I spoke to a young guy today and we talked about what he’s been going through lately.

No matter how we try to commiserate with another person, it still is difficult to fully understand what they’re going through because of context, background, past experiences and current circumstance.

The pat answer to a person hurting is this very statement: “Time heals all wounds.”

Does it really?

Two quick thoughts about this…


Forgiveness is a decision more than a feeling.  This is where the principle of “motion-emotion” gets into play. I know people who have never been able to forgive for decades because they just simply haven’t felt like forgiving the person who offended them.  For some, the person has been in the grave for years and yet forgiveness has yet to be released.

I realize that people will say, “You’ll never understand until what he did happens to you.”


However, you still have to face the fact that everytime you hear his/her name, or see him/her in the mall, your day is ruined.

Deciding is never easy but it is well worth the effort.

I know. I’ve done it a few times. Email me and I can write you back and tell you the stories of times when I’ve had to decide to forgive.

Bitterness kills.

It’s like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.

Decide to let go of the hurt, the pain and the offense.


Letting go of the hurt, the pride and the offense is a supernatural work.

Forgiving is letting the person off the hook and resolve to not bring it up again.

Now, THAT is not easy.

That is why I said “Jesus.” He is the One who can give grace to forgive.

Only when we realize how much we have been forgiven is the time when we can choose to let go and forgive others.

That is the GOSPEL – understanding the magnitude of my debt and the greatness of His provision.

He loved me inspite of me.  He chose to die for me despite my actions toward Him.

Because of that, since I have freely received, I am able to freely give.

Will time heal all wounds?

It will help but it is when we decide and let Jesus cover our situation with His grace can we truly, truly experience freedom through forgiveness.


We had our Advent Night as a family this evening.

We have been doing Advent Nights the past several years to prepare for the Christmas season. It has been a good way to prepare our kids and focus on the primary reason why we celebrate this particular holiday.

The word “advent” comes from the Latin word  “adventus” which means “coming” or “arrival”.

Advent is a time to revisit parts of the Christmas story for 4 weeks before December 25.

We usually…

1. Sing a Christmas song that is related to the part of the Christmas story we are going to read.
2. Read part of the Christmas story (straight from the Bible or a Christmas story book for kids)
3.  Find a lesson to learn and apply.
4. Pray. (for application, for a family …)

I just thought it might be helpful to give you ideas in case you’d like to do it with your family. The following I gleaned from Virginia Knowles’ article in the Startwell Homeschool Site.


Family Advent Night #1: “God is With Us”

1. Song: “O Come, O Come Immanuel” – The lyrics of this song (originally written in Latin) are a prayer for the Messiah to come and set the people free from their misery in sin. The tune was written in a minor key, which makes it sound melancholy to fit the lyrics. You may wish to point this out to your older children.

2. Scripture:

Isaiah 7:10-14 – Immanuel promised
Matthew 1:18-25 – Immanuel comes

3. Application:

Immanuel means “God with us” and Jesus means “The Lord saves.” Why do we need a Savior? Because we are sinners! Remind your children that you told them ahead of time some of what you would be doing, so they could know what to expect and how to prepare. Relate this to how God took the time to tell his people, through the prophet Isaiah, several hundred years early, that a special Messiah would be born. He told them many details so they could know what to expect.

4. Pray

5. Possible Activity:

Drive around through different neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights. Remind your children that Jesus came to light up the dark world. We should be lights in the world, too, if we have Jesus in us.

Family Advent Night #2:“Jesus is Our Glorious King!”

1. Song. “Joy to the World”

2. Scripture

Luke 1:26-56 — The angel told Mary that she would give birth to a king. When she visits her relative Elizabeth, she speaks forth what is now called the “Magnificat” – a psalm of praise to God. When you read the Scriptures this evening, choose people to read the parts of the narrator, Mary, the angel and Elizabeth. Practice ahead of time, if possible.

3. Application:

Ask what good things we can say about God and what he has done for us.

4. Pray

5. Possible Activity.

Watch the movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which you can rent or buy on DVD. Talk about it and how Aslan represents Jesus as the King who came to redeem his people.


Family Advent Night #3: “Angels Sing!”

1. Song. “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”

2. Scripture

Luke 2:1-21 – the birth of Jesus
Colossians 1:15-20 – the deity of Jesus (optional)

3. Application:

Who was Caesar Augustus? What is the census? Talk about how many people would have to travel to Bethlehem for the census, and that’s why there wasn’t any room in the inn. Shepherds were some of the lowliest and least respected members of society, but God chose them to be the first visitors to the newborn King. Perhaps that is because Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who lays his life down for his sheep!

4. Pray

5. Possible Activity.

Go Christmas caroling! You can walk around your own neighborhood, drop in on special friends or relatives, or visit an orphanage. If you do visit an orphanage, check ahead with the administrators to make sure this is OK, since there may be other groups visiting or the residents might go to sleep really early in a particular facility.

If you plan to stay home, choose another activity, such as:

Read your favorite books about the first Christmas.
Act out the Christmas story.
Draw pictures of the Nativity scene.
Make a simple nativity scene with felt or clay.


Family Advent Night #4: “Wise Men Still Seek Him”

1. Song. “We Three Kings”

2. Scripture

Luke 2:22-40 – Simeon and Anna were very old, but they had been waiting many years for the Messiah to come. They were wise enough to recognize baby Jesus as the one God had promised through the Scriptures – and to praise God for it! The Holy Spirit even told Simeon to go to the temple courtyard that day!

Matthew 2:1-12 – The Wise Men had come from a long distance to see the newborn King. God can even use a special star to guide someone to Jesus! Compare their response to Jesus to the jealous reaction of King Herod. You can also talk about the meaning of the gifts the wise men brought. If you sing all of the verses of “We Three Kings” (as listed on the Cyberhymnal site linked below) they tell us that gold is for a king, frankincense was used for prayer and worship, and myrrh was a burial spice reminding us that the Messiah would die for our sins.

3. Application:

Are we led by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit? Do we love to spend time at the Lord’s house like Simeon and Anna did? Are we willing to go anywhere for Jesus, even if it is a long way from home? What gifts can we give to God?

4. Pray

5. Possible Activity.

Decorate Christmas cookies which you have baked ahead of time. Deliver some of them as a gift to someone who might need a lift in their spirits – because what you do for other people in his name, you do unto Jesus. Or, if you want to be really ambitious, choose a needy family and buy presents for them. Enclose an encouraging note with Scripture, and deliver the bundle secretly to their doorstep.


Hope this helps.

Merry Christmas.